Title art for the game Alice Is Missing shows a person with long hair standing on a hill, looking down at a small town.

Alice Is Missing Is the Perfect Quarantine Game

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As most of our social lives have been reduced to Zoom happy hours and movie-watching text chains for the better part of a year, we’re always on the lookout for new fun, maybe even exciting activities that can be done remotely. Alice Is Missing, a silent role-playing game that takes place over text message, managed to fill the game-night void in my house for the first time in months.

Alice Is Missing launched on Kickstarter back in June of this year, where it was fully funded in just three hours. (It’s since met its goal many times over.) It was designed to be played live, in-person with friends or at cons but the text-based nature of the game makes it perfect for playing remotely. The game casts its players as high schoolers in the small fictional Northern California town of Silent Falls, where their mutual friend Alice has been missing for three days. Via a series of prompts, it’s up to you to find out what happened while also exploring some complex interpersonal relationships.

Players are provided with just the barest structure from the start, allowing for a lot of freedom in creating their characters. The game has been compared to Life Is Strange, Gone Home, Oxenfree, and Firewatch, and that’s definitely not unearned. If you like broody teen mysteries and moody soundtracks, this is going to be your jam. Its creators also went above and beyond to make sure everyone feels safe while playing, which is obviously all about engaging with dark subject matter.

The game guide gives repeated content warnings with suggestions on how to alter gameplay if needed, based on individual players’ needs. It also recommends right from the start that players steer away from things like sexual non-consent and victim-blaming–lazy, damaging tropes that you’d otherwise expect to likely see come up in a story about a missing teen girl.

Alice Is Missing technically runs without a game master but there’s some guidance needed during the 90-minute gameplay experience. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at running an RPG for a long time but it’s always felt intimidating. This was a really fun, low-pressure way to try that out.

(There’s also quite a bit of set-up and explanation before the game starts, especially when played remotely. The game uses the Roll20 platform, which I had never used and was a nightmare to set up–just a heads up for anyone looking to run this game that you’ll probably want to do a dry run the day before.)

While the game is played with only non-verbal communication, my friends and I met via video chat for the pre-game set-up and left our cameras on during the game itself. And honestly, gathering together to watch your friends look at their phones is the most old-normal thing I’ve done in a long time.

People look at their phones while on a video call.

It’s been 12 hours since my first run of Alice Is Missing and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I keep turning it over in my mind, thinking both about the gameplay–the choices we made, things I wish I’d said to other characters–as well as the story itself. The game is haunting in a way that I think will stick with me for quite a while. I also cannot wait to play it again, as it’s the kind of story that will turn out differently every time, not just because of the number of combinations of possible endings, but also because of how different groups of people will inevitably take things in wildly different directions.

Alice Is Missing was developed by Hunters Entertainment and published & distributed by Renegade Game Studios. You can find out more and get a copy for yourself here.

(image: Hunters Entertainment)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.