The Rivers of Alice – Extended Version is a point and click adventure game published by Merge Games, Tagstar Games & Delirium Studios and developed by Delirium Studios in collaboration with Pequeño Salto Mortal. This is Delirium Studios first PC title but they have previously developed: Kinito Ninja, kinito Music and The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind. The Rivers of Alice – Extended Version is a PC port of the iOS title entitled simply “The Rivers of Alice”
“The Rivers of Alice is a surreal journey of self-discovery and enlightenment where the player will need to help Alice confront the fears of her everyday life like: sloth, envy, and dishonesty that manifest themselves in the form of mysterious characters and puzzles.”
The Rivers of Alice – Extended Version: Windows [Reviewed], Mac, Wii U
Developer: Delirium Studios & Pequeño Salto Mortal
Publisher: Merge Games, Tagstar Games & Delirium Studios
Release Date: 16 Nov, 2015
Price: £5.59 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Developer/Publisher]
Being a point-and-click adventure the gameplay is very simplistic, players will need to move the mouse over various areas of the screen to see if an object is “intractable”. Players will then journey through Alice’s dreams speaking with the various characters, conversations are expressed in pictorial form which acts as a clue. The player will then have to solve some kind of puzzle, often having to explore other areas to find an item which will then allow them to progress, the items are kept in an inventory and is up to the player to discover which items can be used with what.
With this style of game there are no real mechanics to speak of it although it should be noted that the pictorial conversation system is often extremely abstract and can be a little bit difficult to follow. There exists a help system of sorts whereby the player can seek out the “sloth” who will then give an additional hint to the player. The game is extremely artistic and has the appearance of a water colour and sketch artwork which is very nice and is in keeping with the “dreams, abstract” aesthetic. The soundtrack is very relaxing and suits the game quite well and is composed by Vetusta Morla an indie rock band from Madrid in Spain.
While playing I encountered a few problems, firstly, let’s get this out of the way, the game is a pretty obvious port from the iOS title, fortunately there is not much of a price difference between the two. From what I can tell the “extended version” seems to elude to a number of additional Easter eggs added into the game. Having something like that for those that have already played it is great and all, but requiring players (especially those that already have bought the iOS version) to complete the game multiple times in order discover said Easter eggs (one per each additional play-through (unless you cheat by watching a video), is in my opinion overly pretentious even though after the first play-through the game will likely be completed much faster, depending on how good your memory is.
Speaking of “fast completion” I managed to get through two play-through’s in about six hours or so, however in doing so something became abundantly clear to me, the animations are un-skip-able. I understand the game has artistic vision and in an initial play-through having un-skip-able animations/cut scenes are annoying but understandable, however after that it unnecessarily slows pace down. Whilst the game is designed to be set in a “dream world” and therefore everything is abstract and doesn’t always make sense, having clues, that on occasion can be equally abstract can prove extremely frustrating (which is a nice segue to). Next I’d like to talk about the help system, as mentioned if you get stuck you can always ask the “sloth” who will give you an additional hint which may or may not help, as mentioned the clue is given in abstract form. Even that would be forgiveable but the sloth is only accessible at the very start screen, so you may have to transition through (and back) up to eight screens (or thereabouts) in order to find him. You must also wait for Alice to walk across the screen each time which brings us back to the un-skip-able animations I spoke about earlier.
Finally, I would like to cover the precision issues I had, sometimes when clicking on certain objects it is in fact the object to either side that is selected. I had a look on the Steam forums and reviews and didn’t see any mention of this issue, so it could just be me. I did however notice people reporting bugs in the iOS version which may have translated to this issue. On which note I’d like to add in that some keyboard commands would have been nice to move the character around, select inventory items etcetera. I feel that this is a missed opportunity, there was no context to the “confrontation the fears of Alice’s everyday life” nor even a resolution at the end, it would have been nice to see how Alice’s life was changed after facing these fears.