As a Vita fan you’ll no doubt have been excited by the very diverse range of games that have continually arrived for the system, and one of the system’s recent strengths has been visual novels. Now, while I do enjoy visual novel games, I am more prone to picking up and playing point & click adventure games with some of my personal favourite titles being Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and Day of the Tentacle. When I learned that Benjamin Rivers was releasing an independent point & click adventure, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Alone With You takes place on a desolate space colony located on a doomed planet. The plot of the game pits you as the only remaining survivor left, and it is your job to find a means of fixing the last working escape ship available so you can depart before the planet explodes. The story is layered with tragedy and uncertainty that will have you hunting for objects and artefacts to aid you in uncovering what truly happened.
While collecting and discovery is the main aim of the game, you also get to meet with five companions; one AI and four holo-sim recreations that progressively expand on their tragic back stories, whilst giving you the opportunity to develop relationships the more you continue through. The game really sets a depressive tone from start to finish, allowing emotional attachment to really sink in when interacting with objects and individuals.
Alone With You really captures the beauty of an adventure title, which to me is finding objects and solving puzzles, which is then married together with a driven visual novel narrative to give the genre a refreshed play style. The concept of blending two genres was a great idea as it allowed for the gameplay to feel less monotonous the further I continued on, and as I persisted through the game for many hours I was pleasantly surprised at the length of time it took to finish. Thankfully, I was captivated by the visual and audio throughout, which kept my attention all the way through the story.
Alone With You takes full advantage of the sprite work previously seen in the developer’s previous title, Home, although by adding a much colder colour palette it helps to enrich the bleak narrative presented from beginning to end. Ivor Stines, the creator behind the music and sound design has produced some fantastic music for the game and it really expands on the emotion and feeling when uncovering the horrors that lay waste in the colony – right through to the discovery of the tragedy the befell each companion. The sections I thoroughly enjoyed hearing most were the holo-sim segments. The music somehow managed to fit well with each character giving them each a sense of uniqueness to one another.
While many point and click adventures grant a one playthrough experience, Alone With You delivers multiple choice options throughout. The most notable section to witness different experiences is the holo-sim chamber portions. During sections of the story, you will be prompted to select one of the three answers provided that will change the way in which the companions feel about you. The more interaction you make with each of the characters, the more you will learn about their feeling towards you. This added a nice break away from the consistent bleak tones already present. Not to mention, there are multiple endings to reach too, which adds a nice level of replay value.
One of the best things about Alone With You is the puzzle sections, and it completely delivers in providing enough balance in ratio to the narrative. While hardened adventure fans may find the puzzles lacking in difficulty, it does provide the right difficulty enough to appease older fans and new players just experiencing adventure games for the first time. One of the cleverest bits of the game is the way the puzzles share relevance to the story. When conversing with the companions, you will find certain items to present to each of them, unfolding more sections of the main story. This was a great idea as it helped to keep the gameplay continuous and the narrative at centre stage, giving both mechanics room to work side by side.
Benjamin Rivers has delivered to fans a rarely seen genre with a wonderfully touching experience that sits on par with many other adventure games of its kind, such as the efforts from Telltale Games. Now, while I admire the work Telltale Games has provided with the delivery of excellent storytelling gameplay in The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead, Alone With You truly respects the foundation with great story telling and wonderful addictive puzzle elements, all founded on a text based narrative and immense art direction. This is definitely one of the finest point & click adventure games created in recent years that many developers could learn from.