Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella. Everyone knows who these heroines are, and there’s nothing new about remixing these fairytales. Once Upon A Time, The Cinderella Story, and Maleficent are shining Hollywood examples. What makes SINoALICE stand out, however, is the fact that it’s directed by Yoko Taro, who’s famed for his strange, dark, and philosophical storytelling.
Yoko Taro’s interviews about SINoALICE were eclectic as well; he typically dons a moon mask and has no problem telling interviewers about how he didn’t enjoy writing any character or how he just wants to get work over with and have a drink. He stated that he chose fairy tales because the copyright has expired. Another good reason for his choice? “Everyone knows the story for famous characters, so it’s convenient that I don’t have to explain the backstory every time,” he told The Verge. “It’s a hassle to explain why Red Riding Hood is wearing a hood, for example.”
As a single-player, console gamer, I’m not a fan of most mobile ‘gacha’ games. Despite this, I played through Snow White and Alice’s chapters and enjoyed the fact that the story gets deeper even though the gameplay is repetitive. As a NieR fan, I was also delighted to get 2B’s breaker job (immediately playable) as a login bonus – there are more chances to win NieR unlockables, character lore, and events every day you check-in.
The puppets who guide you throughout the process named “Parrah” and “Noya” (get it?) provide entertaining little stories about betrayal and killings while you’re downloading a bulk of the files. Of course, the music is also melancholic and strangely moving thanks to Keiichi Okabe, who also composed NieR: Automata’s OST.
The overall look and feel of the game is amazing, too. Expect the BDSM-inspired dresses and obsession with killing that we’ve seen from Taro’s past work, along with creepy doll-like creatures, intricate weaponry, and font styles. The weapons also have their own tales as you level them up (something NieR fans are familiar with).
It’s interesting to see how Yoko Taro can play around with existing genres and give us a grim, meta take on them. I can’t wait to find out why Cinderella, Alice, and Pinocchio would want to wake up their authors. After a couple of hours, I’m not yet close to the answers. Deep storytelling is usually not a thing in similar games.
As a fan of the original, darker fairy tales (not the Disney-fied versions) of The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, I’m keen to uncover Yoko’s version. However, I would advise players not to expect Alice to reach anywhere near 2B’s character development. Nor can one expect the story to be as fleshed out as in Nier – this mobile game’s objective is social, after all.
Anyone can play by themselves or create a guild with their friends and battle against other guilds. You get a variety of classes to choose from, such as paladin, sorcerer, minstrel, breaker, and more. SINoALICE also has collaborations with famous anime series like Code: Geass and Re:Zero – I’m personally excited to get Subaru and Rem, plus their special costumes and weapons.
The free-to-play game came out in Japan last 2017, with over 2 million downloads in Japan before it even launched. At present, it’s free to download on iOS and Android since its global launch this July 2020. NieR fans, it might take a while before NieR Replicant remastered and NieR Reincarnation (another mobile game, available for pre-registration in Japan) gets released. In the meantime, SINoALICE may be the ‘happily ever after’ you’re looking for.
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