top of page

Alice is Missing: Review

Alice is Missing is a silent tabletop role-playing game created by Spencer Strike and published by Renegade game studios.

The set-up of this game is slightly different to other TTRPGs as players communicate entirely through text messages in a group chat. That's right, nobody is allowed to speak.

It surrounds the story of a missing teenage girl where you play her friends texting each other while trying to uncover the mystery of her disappearance. I'm not usually a person to play TTRPGs unless I'm coerced into it by friends, but I've been wanting to play this game for a while now. I discovered Alice is Missing on a Twin Peaks group where somebody mentioned that they had managed to bend the story into a Twin Peaks/Lynchian theme. A moving, human story that also allows that amount of creative freedom was extremely appealing to me.

Alice is Missing can feature some pretty heavy topics that would normally surround the disappearance of a teenage girl. The constant trigger warnings throughout the rulebook made me a bit worried that I had made a bad decision, was this game may be too emotionally taxing to expect my friends to play? I quickly discovered that this wasn't the case, most groups of friends probably know each other well enough to understand the kind of conversations they're comfortable having and you all have total control over the events you touch upon and how deeply you address them. You can prerequisite the game with any subjects you would like to avoid, as well as an "X" card you can pull if a topic is becoming triggering for you. Trust me, as someone who has experienced a lot of the horrible things teen girls face, you'll be fine as long as your fellow players are emotionally intelligent enough to navigate those subjects in a sensitive manner. If not... you probably need to find better friends.

After reading the rule book I expected this to be a really solemn game, which it was at points, but we were also playing teenagers, which led to a lot of humour that really lightened it. There were many moments where our silence was broken with laughter over the ridiculous teenage mentality our characters had embodied. The minimum number of players is three and you have the option of playing five different characters- Alice's brother, her secret girlfriend, her best friend, the friend with a crush and the friend who moved away. We had 4 players and I played Alice's secret girlfriend, I only chose this character because I also had a secret girlfriend as a teen (I probably overdid the "gals being pals" jokes, but at least I found myself funny).

One mistake I made was that I didn't develop my character enough beforehand, I didn't give her enough history or weird quirks to play on, which limited what comedy and backstory I could use. Fortunately, the other players had done this and it worked out fine. However, if you're planning on playing, try not to make the same mistake I did. It could really dampen the game if all your characters are boring and two-dimensional. Alice is Missing is played alongside an animated timer that is accompanied by an amazing soundtrack that changes as the game progresses, this really adds to the atmosphere and emotional intensity of the story. As the timer hits specific points players pull cards which reveal more information to further the plot. Because of this and the silent, text-only element it becomes so immersive I almost totally forgot who I was for the whole 90 minutes it was played. I entirely became Julia, I was genuinely concerned for the safety of my fictional friend and felt a real sense of dread and guilt after asking her to go into a dangerous situation.

Once the timer ended, the solum music continued and our facilitor played voice messages we had individually recorded before the game began as voicemails we had left for Alice before she went missing. It was very dramatic and touching, I can see why it makes people cry.

The game was left quite open with some unanswered questions, which I really enjoyed as it gave us the opportunity to discuss our theories on the events that had unfolded. As we discussed it, everything seemed to fit in and relate to the overall story. I've heard that some people struggle with this aspect, but my group seemed to enjoy it. It's difficult to find faults with Alice is Missing. The only issues I found were that I struggled to keep up at times because I'm slow at typing, so I felt the need to cut my messages short and skip things I wanted to say.

However, if this is a real concern for you, you could always ask the other players to keep a slow pace. I also felt that the character sheets could have given more prompts for development beforehand to prevent the slightly bland version of Julia I created.

Another issue was that we had a few instances where we pulled the cards late because we were unaware the timer had hit that point, I initially thought a chime on the soundtrack would be a good way to solve this, but I've since discovered that they did try this during the playtest and people felt that it spoilt the organic experience as it alerts everyone that something is about to happen. I still think it would be good to have the option anyway.

Other than that, I personally think it's an excellent game. A lot of stories surrounding the disappearance of women can be problematic, Twin Peaks which ironically led me to this game is one of them. They can often dehumanise the victim, too lightly brush over the horrific events that can lead to them going missing, victim blame and in particularly bad cases almost fetishise the victim (once again, looking at you Twin Peaks).

I feel like the creator of Alice is Missing did his best to prevent that from happening. The rule book strongly advised us against victim blaming and desensitising the subject matter. Of course, how the events are actually approached depends entirely on who is playing. But you definitely can't accuse the creator of not trying. Alice is Missing stays with you long after you've finished playing it. I dreamt about it when I went to sleep that night, my subconscious brain still trying to understand what happened to Alice.

It was a similar experience to finishing a well-written book or watching a great movie. I really don't think you need to be a fan of TTRPGs to play Alice is Missing, I'm certainly not. It's so beautiful, well made and easy to understand, it can be enjoyed by most people.


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page