Alice is Missing
22 Apr, 2021, updated 22 Apr, 2021
alice is missing
I finally got a chance to play a game I’d been very curious about, Alice is Missing. It was organised by the very excellent @proopypants. The plot is in the title: Alice, a girl in a sleepy American rural town, has gone missing a few days ago. It’s winter 2020 and you play her friends trying to find her again.
Except only by text.
TL;DR: It’s great.
Now I think this is a really interesting idea, it’s practically live play-by-post. Almost.
I won’t explain the mechanics as I’m still a little hazy on some of them, but the principle is that up to five people assume roles in this town of people who know Alice. There’s a bunch of pre-selected names, and relationship types, and places around the town. As part of the prep you collectively pick some of these and flesh out your town, your characters, and your relationships, and the secrets that might come tumbling out.
You then all text each other in your platform of choice. We used Discord, which also allowed us to set names more easily. I can see this would be neat playing with actual phones for more immersion - the game is written primarily to be played in person. Weirdly I can’t quite see this working for me, I’d end up talking. During the 90 minutes of gameplay, players draw cards with prompts to add a new suspect or location, with some specific hooks (e.g. her car is found, her school locker is searched).
We used roll20 for this aspect and I really enjoyed this, as it meant I could do my part, and ignore it when others were drawing cards, and it felt much more natural when someone went “OH HEY I JUST GOT A TEXT FROM xxxx”.
The game required a little over two hours of prep, and then runs for exactly 90 minutes, and then we had a debrief after. It can be an emotionally intense game and the safety tools are front and centre of the design. The game can get really dark, if you let it.
- Really immersive emotional experience
- Strong theme throughout
- txt lk u think teens do lololololol
- Be up on your American teen dramas, the cards are tight to the theme
- 90m can feel short to reveal 5 secrets, have 10 clues come out, and also chat like teens
- Fiddling with cards in a physical game would feel like a bit of a drag (and your VTT needs custom card support (roll20 kit exists for this)
- Some speedy improv can be required