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An excellent dating game, but not for everyone

  • Gibmaker
  • 07/10/2011 12:05 AM
A dating game? You can't be serious. I would never play a dating game. Especially considering the main asset in this game is a trio of CUTE BOYS.

But, I was lured in by the game's excellent graphics and presentation. You need look only as far as the screenshot section to see that. Also, a good role-playing game should be enjoyable no matter what sort of identity the player assumes, right? The premise of playing as an MMORPG player (IRL Merui, OL RuiOfTheSword) having to discover the real-life identity of an online personnage named "Alistair" in 30 days seemed to be a novel twist on the dating game genre. So after carefully closing the blinds on my window (not that there's anything to be ashamed about - I am totally secure in my masculinity) I downloaded RE:Alistair++ for a spin.

The high quality graphics are in full decoration right off the top with the title screen and menus, and the scenes and characters are consistently excellent throughout. Characters in the MMORPG world Rivenwell are rendered in full-blown Manga style, while real world characters are more realistic, and the two styles of illustration interlink well as the action transitions back and forth between the two worlds.

The game also has two completely seperate GUIs, one for the real world and one for Rivenwell. In the Rivenwell GUI, functional buttons are interspersed with other GUI elements that are just cosmetic, which was a confusing way to start, and there is no advice given on what the different buttons do, so I was at a loss for a while. Perhaps the designers assumed that anyone who played RE:Alistair++ would all ready be familiar with this type of game.

But anyway, as a visual novel, the main thing you will be doing in this game is clicking through text boxes. (You have been warned.) There is a rather extensive prologue section that introduces all the CUTE BOYS, and there are no choices throughout this section, but once you get into the main game things become more interactive.

The "Alistair" mystery, as I've said, gives this game a novel twist, but it is still a dating game through-and-through, not a puzzle/mystery game. Don't think you will be intensively following leads and amassing clues. Apparently there are enough clues in the boys' behaviour for someone to figure it out, but for me it came down to a wild guess at the end.

Each school day, the player chooses what Merui does with her lunch break, afternoon and evening. Different actions develop different stats, which in turn make her more appealing to each of the lovely boysie-woysies. (This is run-of-the-mill dating game stuff here.) Most of the story is presented with character sprites appearing over a background, but certain choices lead to fully-drawn scenes with the boys, where they look PARTICULARLY GORGEOUS.

The biggest complication in the game is the fact that you have to invest some of your afternoons earning money to buy things from the mall. I found this part of the game rather disappointing. Each item for sale triggers some sort of special scene elsewhere in the game, but it's difficult to find these scenes. Especially once you get more than halfway through the month, it's unlikely that you'll find a purpose for most of the items, especially the more expensive ones. On one playthrough I earned money as fast as possible to buy the most expensive dress, and it never came into play. (Is this because GUYS JUST DON'T NOTICE THESE THINGS? Q_Q)

Punishingly, you aren't always guaranteed a good ending, and it's not exactly clear how you're supposed to find one. On my first playthrough I did manage to get Travis' ending (he wears a double-breasted blazer to high school, which is SO CUTE) and I was rewarded with a special illustration of his dreamy smile beaming down at me, making my heart palpitate with definitely-heterosexual glee. But on subsequent playthroughs I got some of the bad endings, which are not so much bad as utterly anti-climactic. There IS a correct answer as to which of the boys is Alistair (it's not some sort of third-option scenario where it's none of them, or all of them), but even with foreknowledge from a previous play, your vengeance will not necessarily be particularly sweet. Perhaps it takes more replays and careful attention than I was willing to give it, but I never figured out how to assuredly capture any of the boys' hearts or pop Alistair's lid with the biggest bang.

Let's discuss replays. Fortunately there are a variety of options to let you skip through the long story sections on replays, such as setting text to "Auto" mode, which auto-advances through the text at lightning speed (resulting in some amusing facial contortions as the characters change expression dozens of times in a second). This is a thoughtful way to get through the long prologue, but using this function during the main game may cause players to miss anything unique or unexpected that happens.

I give RE:Alistair++ a 4/5 because while it's an outstanding introduction to the dating-game genre for anyone who's never tried it, this style of game still isn't for everyone and some people will simply find it boring. Don't expect an earth-shaking experience, but the graphical presentation is exceptional, and the boys ... OH, THE BOYS. THEY'RE JUST SO ADORABLE.

Now if you'll excuse me there's a live bear I have to wrestle while shaving and drinking beer with two cheerleaders on each arm.

My rating: 4/5

Best thing about Travis: Double-breasted blazer
Best thing about Shiro: Diet of noodles
Best thing about Derek: Nothing. I didn't like him. >:(

This game made me nostalgic for high school.


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Aww thank you so much for the awesome review Gibmaker ;v;
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
I love this review almost as much as I love Travis' double-breasted blazer.
Great review!

Was I the only one who saved before the last day to try different endings without having to play over?
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
I love this review
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
Great review!

Was I the only one who saved before the last day to try different endings without having to play over?

I was just not this clever.
Max McGee
My name is Legion: for we are many.
this is it this is the best review
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
author=Max McGee
this is it this is the best review

I know
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