Designed by Spenser Starke
Art by Julianne Griepp and Caleb Cleveland
Published by Hunters Entertainment – Renegade Games
Mysteries, love them, especially mysteries in games. Usually, at the big reveal in a mystery or a story, we give a squeal or "Oh!" of surprise. The twist - Alice is Missing is an immersive experience played almost entirely through text message; the reveal is bursting with wide-eyed expression and maybe a few tears.
So, can you have a collaboratively generated mystery that also allows the element of surprise to be present? A resounding, yes!
Alice is Missing brings the players into the world of Silent Falls, a small California town that has been rocked by the disappearance of local teen Alice Briarwood. The players take on Alice's friends and family's roles and then dive into the mystery, searching for clues.
The game runs over a single session of 2-3 hours, with 3-5 players. In the first 45 minutes, players create their characters' back story, their relationships with Alice, and their ties with each other. The group picks the game Facilitator, otherwise known as a Game Master, who has read the rules and provide guidance for the game. They are the rules reference and a player. Through group texts and individual, you gather clues and suspects. This lends to the feeling of isolation and immersion.
There is card prompts to help with backstory and a secret to work into their relationships. Players describe their character, connection, and familiarity out loud. Being cautious not to expose all their secrets. Then, players privately record a message for Alice, which is the last message sent to her before she disappeared.
Time to start the timer and the next 90 minutes are spent uncovering secrets and unearthing clues to discover where Alice is and who is behind her disappearance. Provided to heighten the experience is a precisely timed and haunting soundtrack, which also serves as the game timer that builds suspense with the story and eerily quiet at the conclusion.
Silently, you are progressing to culling Suspects cards and Location cards that may be linked to Alice's disappearance. In timed increments, these Clue Cards are revealed that spawn information to unravel the mystery. The players build off the secret from the cards by adapting to their characters' agenda or observation.
The cards are split into the following categories and played as follows:
Introduction, Suspect, X Card, Character, Drive, Searching, Location, Clue and Debrief
The truths are deeply buried, teased throughout the game.
When the timer goes off, the final touch, play the privately recorded voicemails from that beginning. (Gasps)
Debriefing. Players expose their motives, secrets, and what happened to Alice.
Loose ends are tied up. The last step in the rulebook reveals how much the writer cares for the players.
Next- check-in with the group to make sure they feel alright- regardless of how the game ended. The game can bring up unexpected or difficult feelings, depending on where the players took the story. We were so moved by the originality and immersive experience, I wrote to the designer immediately after we played to share our journey- his first response was to ask how were we all doing. (more tears)
Once you have found Alice, you have collectively created a movie of a night in Silent Falls. Rather than scripting encounters, the Clue Cards give direction, and the players spin the web. Will they work well together? That is what makes this replayable by bringing new personalities. They are five personas to choose from, and we decided to gender-bend our initial game. We had one player who took the role as comic relief, one who steered towards the hero, and one who took it a bit dark, but we came from (and yes) and made the story work.
They have a version of Roll20 to the game that shares the cards' delivery if you are not playing with a group in your home. We utilize Roll20 for our D&D sessions, and it is a straightforward and effective way to share pertinent information and boost the narrative.
Alice is Missing has an intriguing storyline, impeccable soundtrack, and an encompassing gritty experience. This may be the top game of the year for Nerdz Garage.
The Nerdz Garage relished getting lost in the layers of the game.
Who wants to play?!
Hope you enjoyed the Alice is Missing review. Let me know in the comments if you have played it or a similar game.
Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
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