Title: TAISHO x ALICE episode 1
Release Date: November 28, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Tying to create original characters is hard sometimes, so why not take inspiration from the public domain? You know, take an already existing open domain character and turn them on their heads, all while having a bit of fun.
This seems to be a recurring theme in the Otome genre and undoubtedly what Primula has done in Taisho X Alice: Episode 1. This is a visual novel that has been brought to us by Pencil, in which fairy tale characters are your husbands. And I mean, if I can’t date Robin Hood, at least I can date Red Riding Hood. The lasting appeal is the little twist on the formula that makes this setup more enjoyable.
Taisho X Alice opens up with our player character, waking up in a void with amnesia or something. The only person there with her is a jerk pretty boy who also has amnesia. So after some debates based around how he only remembers the name Alice, they christen themselves Hiragana and Katakana Alic- sorry, Alice and Arisu.
Arisu then forces Alice to team up with her, much to his disdain, to find some answers in the void. Within the void, they find a giant looking glass, which holds the reflections of some other pretty boys and acts as a transporter to their fairy tale worlds.
Within these worlds, you will take the role of Arisu, who is inserted into the world of these fairy tale characters. The player is tasked with being the hero and saving them from their faults. Alice accompanies you through the narrative, whether he wants to be or not. As this is chapter one, your options are limited to Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. Each fairy tale world is its own original story with its own cast of characters, which don’t overlap, so go nuts.
The character portraits are all stunning, with each cast member getting at least a few poses and half a dozen facial expressions. The voice acting for these characters is also fantastic, and they all get enough depth, so they don’t feel like static background characters, which is excellent. There’s also some special attention is given to the leads who each have various poses during dialogue.
One especially striking thing is just how proactive Arisu is as a protagonist. She doesn’t just sit around and wait for more skilled characters to set the plot rolling; she grabs the bull by the horns. It helps that she shows up in the CGs all the time, which is very helpful for giving the player a vessel to fill. Her whimsical, optimistic, and happy-go-lucky attitude contrasts the other leads beautifully and makes her stand out from other protagonists who move at the speed of the plot.
This is further helped by a stellar script, which is littered with character-building quips and funny lines. The dialogue is witty, charming, and drips in little twists to characters that give a decent amount of emotional depth. Also, Arisu’s dialogue options are an absolute ball; I love them so much. Thank god this game has finally begun to receive a proper localization, huh?
The game does have one flaw, and that does lie with its endings. Some bad ends are apparent, understandable, and quite humorous at that. But actually achieving the good ending can be needlessly tricky, with particular options that have no real weight to them being the factors. You can overcome this with saving spams, but it can be rather tedious.
I wasn’t a particular fan of the soundtrack, but that has more to do with me not liking the style of music as opposed to it being poorly designed. The menus also carry a similar “wonderland” vibe to them, which fits the theme of the game tremendously, and does look aesthetically pleasing.
Overall, Taisho X Alice is a beautiful game, filled with fantastic characters. Each fairy tale is presented in a way that makes them unique, even if you think you’ve had enough of the source material. I’m glad to see the game finally receive a proper localization as well as a focus on character growth. While traversing the game’s routes can get tricky, it doesn’t hold the game back too much from presenting it Otome offerings wonderfully. I’m eager to continue the adventure as new chapters are released.
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