This week we received our Kickstarter copy of Alice Is Missing, designed by Spenser Starke, with art by Julianne Griepp and Caleb Cleveland. We were fascinated by the idea of a silent roleplaying game, so today I opened up the box to take a look inside and have a read through the rules.
Alice Is Missing can be played almost entirely by text message, with you and the other players sharing information and clues to find out what happened to their friend, Alice, who disappeared three days ago. A variety of cards facilitate elements of the game – characters, suspects, important locations, and so on - to move the story forward, and a full-length soundtrack (available online) heightens the tension and immersion. There are no dice, and there is no game master, so every player is involved in this narrative experience (though you will want to nominate one player to explain the rules and help keep the game on track). It's like playing a dark, loosely structured game of “Yes, and...” with a 90 minute time limit to reach a conclusion.
As you can probably imagine with any game featuring a missing teenage girl, the themes here run very dark indeed. Some of the content touches on sensitive or heavy subjects that can be difficult for some players to talk about or engage with. Alice Is Missing deals with this by including built in safety tools, and spends a few pages early in its rulebook explaining how to use them. The X-card, Line, and Veil tools are perfect for making sure everyone involved is able to play and feel safe – and as is stated many times throughout, the well being of the players is more important than the game.
One of the best features of this game, particularly in the strange times we find ourselves in, is the ability to play online. Many aspects of a text-driven game lend themselves naturally to distanced play, and for the few elements that expect all the players to be in the same room, resources and advice are included in the rules (and on the official website) for using a virtual space instead.
Alice Is Missing is ideal for players looking for a haunting narrative experience driven by character development and improvisation.
Alice Is Missing is available now for preorder, and is currently expected to release in March 2021 (STC).