Once Upon A Time
SINoALICE is an RPG game developed by Pokelabo, Inc. Classic fairytales are plunged into darkness, and the mission to resurrect their authors begins. Fairytale favorites such as Cinderella fight monsters and themselves with death and destruction the only ends in sight. This new fantasy game challenges you to ask what happens after ever after.
Reading Between the Lines
SINoALICE begins by telling the story of the world with a strong focus on “The Library.” Each character has their own story in the Library that interconnects as you complete chapters. At the end of each section of chapters are battles. Your character fights their way through waves of enemies with help from allies. These allies can be NPC’s or real players. There are 9 unlockable characters in the game so far. Alice and Snow White are featured characters in this title. They are voiced by popular voice actresses M.A.O and Reina Ueda who both appear in the recent remake of Fruits Basket.
Anime style artwork catches the eye immediately. Unique game designs thrust you into a detailed world that is enhanced through creepy music. The story chapters are creative but get boring fast. It focuses more on trying to be dark that it takes too long to tell the story. The battle mechanics are much better in comparison.
Class in Session
Looking past the beautiful art, the story fails to deliver. At first, the creepy dark atmosphere pulls you into the world, but the repetitive story slows to a speed that feels pointless. What once started out as a unique spin on the well-known fairytales quickly starts to feel more like work. The voice acting in each chapter fit the feel, but it is in Japanese. There isn’t a way to change the voice over work into English, but all text is in English.
The story itself flows well, but the battles in between break the flow. Graphics reach an all-time high in the battle scenes. This part of the game reminds me of MMOs. Each attack has an animation when used. Upon the death of the enemies, a black and red smoke expands out of them before they disappear. After defeating the boss, the same smoke expands but goes further before exploding across the screen.
SINoALICE features 8 weapons with classes designed for each. The classes aren’t the usual archer, swordsman, and mage, but some have strange names that don’t make it clear what they are. Some classes are physical, some are magical, and some are support. Upgrading your character is easy enough, but upgrading the weapons is the most important part of making your characters stronger. There are tons of weapons for ever weapon category and rarity. Upgrading weapons involves picking up weapon upgrade scrolls through the story which can take a while if you need to upgrade multiple weapons. The complexity of the classes, characters, weapons, and upgrading confuse the player and affect the gameplay.
Less Talk, More Magic
Gameplay being one of the most important part of a game makes this title fall flat. The beautifully creepy graphics and music can’t make up for a confusing system and slow story. Each character has their own chapters that eventually combine as their paths cross in their mission to revive their authors. The story sounds enticing, but what is the motive behind this? Their goals lead to the deaths of other characters, but it’s not clear why this has to happen. The story is one sided and we never see any action resulting from it. The sections end with battles that are more exciting than any part of the story.
The End is Only the Beginning
In the end, SINoALICE has a unique premise that is beautifully crafted. The music hits the mark by blending innocent fantasy with a chilling ambiance. Combat unleashes a flurry of action that the rest of the game misses with its lackluster storyline. Redesigned fairytale characters achieve the darker world that Pokelabo created with stunning vocal work by well-known Japanese voice actresses. Overall, this title delivers the goods, but complicated game mechanics with poor translations spoil the fun. Detailed instructions and guides in the game are wordy and cause more confusion than answer questions. However, this free-to-play RPG brings a pleasant spin on the classic tales as you play as your favorite character in a dark dreamland.
Amazing visuals and audio can’t make up for the stale story lines and over-complicated class system. However, the wave style combat mode saves the day with its unique monsters and stylish attacks.