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Nier Creator's Fairy Tale RPG Is So Grim It's Silly

Illustration for article titled iNier/i Creators Fairy Tale RPG Is So Grim Its Silly
Illustration: Square Enix

In SINoALICE, a new mobile RPG for iOS and Android directed by Nier creator Yoko Taro, fairy tale characters brutally murder everyone and everything in order to somehow revive their authors and make their bloodiest wishes come true. At first it’s shocking. Then it’s silly.

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Little Red Riding Hood just wants to play all day, and by play she means kill. She wants to kill her grandmother, to save her from the ravages of old age. She wants to tear open the big bad wolf’s stomach and curl up in its intestines. She wants to murder the huntsman, because it would be fun. Most of all she wants to revive her author so she can play happily ever after. And should someone like Sleeping Beauty, who wants to sleep forever no matter how many people she has to slaughter to achieve her goal, get in Little Red’s way, why she’ll gladly kill her as well. Death is like sleep, right?

That’s commitment.
That’s commitment.
Screenshot: Square Enix/Kotaku
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This is the world of SINoAlice, a terrifically twisted land somewhere between the real world and fiction, hosted by a pair of spooky marionettes who might be doing a little string-pulling of their own. Here Alice, Snow White, Cinderella, Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red, Princess Kaguya, and Pinocchio battle to restore the lives of their authors.

Each character has their own story, told via turn-based battles and cutscenes. The scenes are mainly text, but it’s super creepy text, full of disquieting dialogue displayed in dramatically different font sizes. For example, in the scene below, Little Red Riding Hood has just completed a battle against her doppelganger. Mind the obvious innuendo.

Wow.
Wow.
Screenshot: Square Enix/Kotaku

Alarming, yes? Not after the fourth or fifth time, though. The novelty of these brutal fairy tale characters fades quickly, and SINoALICE settles into a relatively enjoyable mobile turn-based RPG collect-a-thon. The player’s chosen character runs through adventure stages fighting creatures with a group of other players’ avatars, mostly computer-controlled but sometimes live co-op.

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Weapons and armor can be earned through play or summoned using in-game currency. Evolving and enhancing gear is primarily how the player powers up. Players select a character and class from those they’ve unlocked and use them to create loadouts they bring into battle.

I use auto mode a lot. Lets me do other stuff while playing.
I use auto mode a lot. Lets me do other stuff while playing.
Screenshot: Square Enix/Kotaku
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For players craving story, SINoALICE has it in spades. Also in swords and hammers, scythes and wands. Every weapon in the game has a tale to tell, with additional chapters unlocked as they evolve. Though usually short, they offer a pleasant break from the ongoing narrative of the game’s gory murder puppets.

NYX is the name of the guild I joined.
NYX is the name of the guild I joined.
Screenshot: Square Enix/Kotaku
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SINoALICE is not the most original mobile role-playing game, but its story and atmosphere are certainly unique. Some may find it frightening. Others will find it unintentionally funny. Either way, there’s a good time to be had. Unleash the fury tales.

SINoALICE is now free-to-play on iTunes and Google Play. Later this month there’s a Nier: Automata and Replicant crossover because Yoko Taro knows what we like.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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DISCUSSION

the Siliconera interview with Yoko Taro about SinoAlice is amazing.