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If you don’t mind taking a trip back to earlier times and more primitive controls it can have some charm
Since I’m now more of a “vintage gamer” rather than merely just being an old one, I am beginning to see what I’d consider to be new concepts of what retro gaming can look like. For slightly younger generations the childhood nostalgia they have is for the era of rough polygons and low-quality textures also known as the PS1 generation. One of the biggest titles from that era, Resident Evil, is also a bit of a darling for that crowd, so an opportunity to play something that authentically recaptures that feel also has appeal. Alisa provides such an opportunity, and while you won’t be dealing with zombies of either human and canine varieties there’s no question that its style of look, control, and play will take you back for better or worse.Starting with the good points, if you’re a fan of all aspects of the OG Resident Evil experience there’s quite a bit of overlap here. In general, you’ll work from fixed camera angles, moving through rooms and other areas within a large manor. The zombie variants in this case have been replaced by pretty creepy life-sized dolls that are prone to chasing and attacking you, and on the whole while they look different they’ll still consistently startle and challenge you to survive when they’ve decided to chase you down. In addition, while the controls for some of the puzzles may not always be ideal, they generally feel consistent with the ones you would have most commonly dealt with back in the day.When it comes to the downsides, I’ll open with the caveat that their severity will be greatly influenced up or down by how familiar you are with the classic Resident Evil-style experience, and whether you can put aside more modern niceties and design improvements in the name of authentic nostalgic play. The unavoidable area that will most clearly define where you stand on this is with the classic tank control scheme, which has always been a love or hate proposition. Even if you don’t mind it, returning to this style of control after playing modern games for quite a while can be a challenge. Compounding this challenge is the fact that shooting enemies is then clumsy at best, and you’ll need to rely on the crosshairs icon lighting up pretty often to tell where you’re even shooting given what can often be unusual camera angles. Now throw in clunky old-school mechanics for reloading, managing inventory, and limited opportunities to save and it can make for a tough transition going back through that gaming time warp.With all of this in mind, recommending Alisa is tricky since moreso than usual so much of the experience rides on how you feel about early PS1 games, their look, and their more primitive style of play. If you have a longing for a return to that look and feel, Alisa could be a great variation on a classic you already know. If, however, you’ve never been a fan this will be unlikely to do anything to change your mind, if anything it would more likely reinforce your distaste for that bygone era. Knowing where you stand on that spectrum will help determine whether it’s a game for you or not.
Justin Nation, Score: