Alisa in Horrorland

©Casper Croes

hat happens when you mix late-90s horror action adventure games and famous stories from the 1920s? You get a deeply fascinating game called Alisa.

In Alisa, you experience the story through the eponymous Royal Agent Alisa, who gains consciousness in a tiny bedroom in a what appears to be a to her unknown location. With the ability to unlock the only door out of the room with a key you found alongside your gun, you are able to move on to the next room and try to find out where you are and how you ended up here. The room you will encounter your first objector who appears to be a mechanized humanoid. In a brief cutscene, the game pays homage to your first zombie encounter in the first Resident Evil. This is one of the many moments the demo exceed at faithfully recreating iconic moments and the core gameplay of the games on the original Playstation that inspired it and creating new experiences at the same time.

I own almost every Resident Evil game and love every minute I have managed to put into the series so far, but somehow I was never able to go through an entire game. At some point I always feel overwhelmed by the different locked doors and other possible routes to keep track of. Other times I just don’t get what I am supposed to do to solve a puzzle to progress further. I did not experience these issues when playing Alisa.

by artist Shiwa Deblaere

Alisa lets you explore its interpretation of the classic Spencer Mansion, the Dollhouse, to a well extent while cutting down on too many open ends. This affects the way you experience the game massively. While you can always decide on where to go, it is clear when one particular path is fully explored for now. Most of the time, you will gain an item or information that will enable you to progress on the main path. While there were a lot of key items I managed to accumulate just by exploring, some were locked behind challenging, but not too hard puzzles.

Another aspect in which Alisa differentiates itself from classic Resident Evil is a game mechanic closely tied to the tooth wheels that enemies leave behind when you defeat them. In one of the early rooms, you will encounter a rather funny looking fella that exchanges the gear parts for useful items like ammo and med kit refills, stronger weapons or a new dress.

Taking on the idea of Alice’s many outfits in contemporary stories and video game adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s original work like Alice: Madness Returns by American McGee, there are several different dresses in the final version of the game, each of which I suspect to have a unique stat boost or even bigger gameplay related attributes like perks, enough reason to be excited for the game’s future.

I really enjoyed playing the demo of Alisa. Whether or not you are into Alice in Wonderland, if you like retro horror games, you will feel right at home when playing it.

by artist Shiwa Deblaere

Make sure to check out the demo version of Alisa currently available on Steam — you will sure have a lot of… FUN!

If you liked my thoughts on Alisa and want to read more about upcoming retro indie horror games, make sure to take a look at the quick piece I did on The Door in the Basement by Aegon Games.

Media management and communication student writing about video games, entertainment and marketing.