SinoAlice has much of what you’d expect from a game from Yoko Taro, the acclaimed director best known for his work on Nier: Automata. It’s dark and introspective, with a story that pulls you in unexpected directions. This time around, he’s turned his attention to the worlds of fairytales; SinoAlice takes place in a setting simply called the “Library,” where storybook characters like Alice and Little Red Riding Hood become sword-wielding warriors fighting off waves of monsters in an attempt to revive their “author.” In typical deprecating fashion, Taro says he was drawn to these characters for a very simple reason.
“It’s because the copyright has expired and there’s no cost,” he tells The Verge. “I researched on Wikipedia. What a convenient world we live in.”
Taro served as creative director on the game, which is billed as a collaboration between Square Enix and Pokelabo, a small Japanese mobile game studio. While SinoAlice actually launched back in 2017 in Japan, it’s launching globally today as a free-to-play title on both Android and iOS. In some ways, it’s typical mobile fare: you have to play regularly to unlock a huge range of characters and gear, while engaging in relatively simple real-time battles and dealing with things like premium currencies and daily check-ins.
What makes the game unique, though, is its tone, which is due in large part to Taro’s writing, as well as elaborate character designs by artist Jino and a gripping soundtrack from Nier