Developed by Pokelabo and Square Enix and originally released in Japan in 2017, SINoALICE tells the story of the Library, “a space ruled by stories and words”. Here, famous fairy tale and literature characters like Snow White, Kaguya-hime, Pinocchio, and Alice (of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) all fight to resurrect their authors—a goal that can only be achieved by killing all the other characters in the Library.
The characters themselves have some of the most striking interpretations I’ve seen, courtesy of character designer jino. They manage to both channel and subvert their source material, taking on an anti-hero spin, while also looking incredibly stylish and ready to face the challenges that the Library brings.
The game itself is fundamentally a gacha RPG, with randomised summons being the main source of new weapons, each with their own story to tell. Thankfully—or not, depending on your perspective—the characters aren’t tied to summons. Unsurprisingly, given Yoko Taro’s track record with subverting the norms of every genre he turns his hand to, SINoALICE seems to critique the gacha RPG genre as much as it embraces it, with plenty of broken fourth walls and quirky humour to go with it.
Rounding out the star-studded creative team is Okabe Keiichi, the composer behind the soundtracks for Drakengard 3, NieR, and NieR: Automata (among others). His ability to craft haunting, emotive scores seems a perfect fit for a game like SINoALICE, and he and Yoko clearly make a good team.
I tend to bounce of free-to-play mobile games pretty quickly, but from what I’ve seen of SINoALICE so far, I could be in for the long haul with this one.
Note: Japanese names in this article are written with the Japanese name order—that is, family name fist, followed by given name(s).