The new Nier: Automata is a dark fairy tale for smartphone


The long-awaited worldwide launch of SinoAlice is finally here

SinoAlice has a lot you would expect from a game by Yoko Taro, the acclaimed director best known for his work on Nier: Automata. It is dark and introspective, with a story that takes you in unexpected directions. This time, he has turned his attention to the worlds of fairy tales; SinoAlice takes place in an environment simply called “Library,” where storybook characters like Alice and Little Red Riding Hood become sword warriors who fight off waves of monsters in an attempt to revive their “author.” Typically and unpleasantly, Taro says he was attracted to these characters for a very simple reason.

Taro served as the creative director for the game, which is advertised as a collaboration between Square Enix and Pokelabo, a small Japanese mobile gaming studio. Although SinoAlice was launched in 2017 in Japan, today it launches globally as a free title for Android and iOS. In a way, it’s a typical mobile fee – you have to play regularly to unlock a wide variety of characters and teams while engaging in relatively simple real-time battles and dealing with things like premium coins and daily logs.

What makes the game unique, though, is its tone, which is largely due to Taro’s writing, as well as artist Jino’s elaborate character designs and a gripping soundtrack by Nier composer Keiichi Okabe. Each of the characters is defined by a specific theme: Alice represents “slavery”, for example, while Sleeping Beauty is “languid” and has her own narrative arc of stories from various chapters to play. Weapons even have their own tradition that you can slowly discover, just like in Nier.

According to Taro, the universal familiarity of these storybook characters made the writing process easier in one way. “Everyone knows the story of famous people, so it’s convenient that you don’t have to explain the back story every time,” he says. “It is difficult to explain why Red Riding Hood wears a hood, for example.” But that does not mean that the process was easy.

“It is not difficult to make the characters unique,” adds Taro. “If you just give Alice and Cinderella four eyes and spit out poison projectile vomit, it would be something new. What is difficult is to retain the feeling of freshness and marketability. It is so difficult that I had almost given up on SinoAlice. I honestly feel like I don’t care anymore. “

SinoAlice is not guaranteed to be as popular worldwide as it has been in Japan, but the first signs are positive. Square Enix says that more than 2 million players pre-registered for the game in the lead-up to the launch. It is another example of Taro’s growing celebrity. Ever since Nier: Automata became a cult hit, the advertising director, who wears a haunting moon mask in public, has been in demand.