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Otome Game Review: Guilty Alice

Summary By Solmare: When you visit a small shop full of cute little things run by a mysterious man with a cat-shaped hood, you find a little jewelry box. You open the beautiful box to find a heart-shaped jewel inside…
But the moment you touch it, the jewel shatters to pieces.

That night, you have a strange dream.
Looking down upon you who are made to stand in a defendant’s seat in a courtroom is a queen dressed in red, calling you Alice; there is that shopkeeper with the cat-shaped hood, too!
The Red Queen says to you: “Guilty Alice! How dare you steal and break my precious ‘Heart’! You must successfully produce a ‘Heart’ and bring it to me within ONE MONTH. If you fail producing a ‘Heart’, then that day will be the day your head rolls!”

The next morning, when you wake up in the real world, you notice five handsome men standing before you—The Joker, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse and the Lizard. They are the men sent by the Red Queen to grow a Heart, a crystallization of love’s awakening only women are able to make, with you. However, you are also told that once the Heart is taken away, you will no longer have any memory left of the man you have come to love.
Traveling between night and day, between Wonderland and the real world—will you be able to grow a loving Heart?

 

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android

Story: Default name Akari is living the dream after smashing a glass heart in a shop. She gets to choose between a handful of eligible bachelors from Wonderland. If only her head weren’t on the line! But she’s about to discover that sometimes losing your heart is enough to challenge the Queen of Wonderland.

If you like to self-insert, feel free to do so, but Akari proves she’s more than a blank slate. And it’s a good thing considering the story depends on how she and the man she chooses to make a heart with fare. Akari’s batch of bachelors each have rich histories to further the world-building in Guilty Alice, really cementing the whimsical and magical experience Wonderland is supposed to give.

Of course, Wonderland is brimming with its own problems: power struggles between the different rulers, the missing Black Prince, the Evil Black King’s looming threats to capture Akari and use her blood to gain immortality, and even some discussions on the aristocracy and the poor. This latter one isn’t fleshed out to its full capacity, but it was great to see how much of the world had been explored. This also seems to reflect Akari’s views of the world, and in turn, the player’s. Wonderland can’t be completely comprehended, so seeing what Akari sees, and being kept in the dark while a light is shed in the distance, keeps the player engaged and desiring to learn more about this world.

We get to have tea with the crazy Mad Hatter and learn just why he’s constantly throwing tea parties. We get to see how long the Doormouse can stay awake for and discover how he met the Mad Hatter. There are castles to explore, balls to have a fairy tale dance at, mushroom valleys to traverse, and so much more.

Just don’t forget the danger closing in.

Characters: Firstly, I wanted to draw attention to the designs. All of them are easily recognizable and it’s a huge relief how varied they are after playing a lot of Voltage games, where it seems that the love interests all have a set template.

Akari may even seem the type to stand there while her man fights off her enemies and when all’s over she’s showered with love from the entire world for having done nothing. She’s so much more.

On my blog, I try my hardest to discuss the importance of heroines in otome games and the meaning of strength. There are many forms of strength and yet society likes to crown those who charge in with swords and sick moves as the strong ones. That those who experience feelings and have moments of vulnerability are somehow weak.

We forget that strength has many faces. And Akari’s is her determination and her choice to trust in others. Her life is on the line and yet she still finds a way to shove aside her fears to get to know her partner in this journey. She doesn’t look for love. She looks for who they are as people and it is this that allows her heart to let the other person in.

Akari was a joy to experience this story with. Some people may prefer the swords-swinging heroines instead, but Akari should not be cast aside. She’s just as strong as any other protagonist, just in her own way.

Her love interests likewise vary. We have Mad, constantly masking his fears with a smile and throwing tea parties to distract himself when he realizes Akari is becoming something more than a friend. He doesn’t know how to react to his feelings and when he sees his own failings to help her grow a heart, he makes several questionable choices. And Akari calls him out on it. He has to grow before he can voice his feelings and I loved it. His friend, Ash, is the Doormouse. He’s always falling asleep and this affects a lot of the plot in his route.

Joker is the standard tsundere who’s made the butt of jokes in Wonderland. He’s dealing with a lot of anxiety and he has to overcome them together with Akari. Sakuto is the Prince of the Chalk Castle and fits the Prince trope to the T. He’s a little too accepting of everyone he meets for his own good, which puts a lot of his comrades in danger. This is especially the case when Maryanne, one of the antagonists working for the Black King, arrives. Bill is the manly-man of the game who is perfect at everything he does. His route can suffer because he’s so capable at everything he does, but a sub-character does make up for it with her development from a jealous love interest to one of Akari’s friends.

Then we have Cheshire, my personal favorite. I have to recommend him if you only play one route. His felt like a route from an actual otome game you’d buy from Otomate or Rejet. I can’t really delve into his route without a huge spoiler, but his character development was fantastic. He goes from being an enemy, to an ally, to a friend whose trust forms the basis of his relationship with Akari. I loved how his route can teach others that love is teamwork. It can be hard and frustrating, but if you don’t have each other’s backs, you’ll never get anywhere. There was so much excitement, tension, and loveliness in his route that I can’t recommend it enough. Honestly one of the best routes I’ve played in a mobage to date.

Music: As with mobage, nothing amazing. However, it did a great job at enhancing the story’s best moments and really gave that magical vibe they were going for.

Voices: None, as is the standard for mobage.

Gameplay: There are 2 endings, the Alice and Sweet endings. Each one has it’s own version of a happy ending, but depending on your choices, these really illustrate the depth of Akari’s relationship with her suitors.

Art: Sprites can look a little wonky sometimes but the art quickly grows on you. The CGs are gorgeous and vibrant with color. Cheshire’s kiss CG in particular was fabulous and more incentive to play his route 😉

Intended Audience: This will be received by otome game fans easily enough, but if you new to otoge and aren’t sure about this, it will depend on your tastes. If you don’t mind another Wonderland spinoff in media, like romance, good story telling, and fairy tales, this might just be for you. For some, Bill and Sakuto may be off-putting, as Sakuto is the complete definition of the perfect prince. He has some flaws to his character, but he relies so heavily on his trope that some may not find him very entertaining. Bill, likewise, relies too much on being the perfect man at everything he does, so knowing he cannot fail in whatever he chooses means a lack of conflict. However, Bill’s route does a good job at taking the cliche of a jealous mean girl and develops it so that she later becomes an ally. The problem is she has no face…. In Sakuto’s route, Maryanne gets her own subplot which added a lot of depth to Sakuto’s character. If you like Maryanne I think it’s certainly worth giving his route a shot. Those who are interested in this otoge but can’t choose a route should just go for Cheshire since his was so well-written. It provided a very satisfying conclusion and could possibly convince hesitant players to try another route. Despite being one of Solmare’s older games it’s definitely a classic title that deserves to be played.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥

*If you want to see more detail on specific events in each route, you can visit my blog where I review otoge, drama cds, and dramas.*

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