Alice is Missing is an innovative, silent RPG from Renegade Game Studios. Silent? Yes! The bulk of the game is played by texting into a group chat. The game is about the lives of a group of teens (the player characters) who discover one of their classmates, Alice, has gone missing.
Play is driven by decks of cards. These cards include characters, suspects, locations, and clues as to what happened to Alice. One player acts as a Facilitator, but they’re just as much a player as everyone else in the group; there’s no Dungeon Master in Alice is Missing who must craft the plot or encounters. Instead, things move organically, driven by the cards and the interactions between the players.
Play begins with every player picking a character card. The character cards include a bit of background about your character’s relationship with Alice, a secret only you know about Alice, and a reason you called and left a voicemail for Alice. The Facilitator then shuffles the Drive Cards and hands each player one. Drive Cards give you a Motive (a social goal for conversations like “keep everyone calm” or “always leap to Alice’s defense” as well as suggestions on how this goal will affect the way your character behaves) and two Relationships that you’ll assign to two different players. These tell you how your character feels about or reacts to those characters.
After everyone has their character card, each player goes one-at-a-time to another room where they can’t be heard to record a voicemail their character left for Alice before they learned she was missing.
The facilitator then lays out five Suspect and Location cards face-up on the table. Each player will then take turns describing a suspicion they have about one of those cards in regards to Alice’s disappearance.
Clue Cards are dealt to each player, each with a time on it. These will be read and acted on by the players when that much time is left in the game. There’s a special soundtrack you can play to help you keep track of these and when they should be read. The Clue Cards include not just clues about what happened to be shared with the others (often by asking you to flip a card and then decide how it potentially relates to the situation), but also other instructions and story beats. Depending on the cards you are dealt, your character could find Alice’s cell phone, or even end up hurt or killed.
Between the activation of these Clue Cards, the players will interact via text with one another, with the Facilitator kicking things off with a big group-text to everyone. It’s through text that the players will reveal the clues they discover, as well as dig into the back-stories and the secrets of their characters. Players can chat via the group chat, or text each other individually during the game.
The 30 Minute Clue Card reveals who is responsible for Alice’s disappearance. The 20 Minute Clue Card reveals where Alice is (or, at least, her phone). And the 10 Minute card reveals how the characters find Alice.
If D&D is what you’re used to in roleplaying games, Alice is Missing will be a completely new experience for you. There are no character sheets or stats. It’s not the sort of mystery where you try to deduce the identity of a murderer and their motive. It’s really about the characters you and your friends play during the game, how they and their relationships change as they try to discover what happened to Alice. There’s also no character persistence or campaign play; once the session is over, you’ll be leaving those characters and their relationships behind. Even if you play a character with the same name as last time, everything else will be different about them, and you can’t take things you learned or that happened in one game and carry it over to the next.
Alice is Missing promises a fun little hot-house RPG experience that’s heavy on immersion and interpersonal relationships and completely lacking in +1 swords and orcs. If you’re looking for something new and different to mix up your gaming, or if you’re a big fan of directed storytelling games like Gloom, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Alice is Missing. It looks like this game is turning into something of a sleeper hit, so you’ll want to talk to the RPG experts at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy® today about securing your copy before the game sells out.