In the land of gaming, there's a legend known as Yoko Taro. While less popular than the likes of Hideo Kojima, Taro has a cult following for his work. Both the Drakengard and Nier series have garnered many fans the world over, especially the fantastic Nier Automata.
Yoko Taro took to mobile this time as we all wait for the next installment of his genius. SINoALICE is, on its surface, quite reminiscent of Taro's other work. It's thought-provoking and introspective, with an interesting story beat and gameplay loop. In a perfect world, this game would be a premium title that we could all enjoy without hindrance, but since it's free-to-play, there are certain caveats that we're all used to by now.
SINoALICE, previously available in Japan and recently launched in the U.S., is more complex than most mobile games you'll find. Published by Square Enix and developed by Pokelabo, SINoALICE is leagues beyond most free-to-play games. It reminds me a lot of Fire Emblem Heroes in many ways, especially in how you summon new fairytale characters and classes.
You the player exist in a limbo space known as the Library, a sort of purgatory between reality and fantasy. You collect different fairytale characters, classes, weapons, and armor, developing your own playstyle from there. You use Twilight Crystals to buy Grimoires, which come in different rarities and give you anything from the above list. You can earn Twilight Crystals in-game from completing story missions and login bonuses, or you can just buy a bunch at a time in the store.
The story revolves around the different fairytale characters, all of whom represent some facet of humanity, as they work to revive their authors. Each character's story is divided into chapters, which are then split into small chunks for easy, quick, on-the-go play. You fight through a few waves of enemies, using your abilities to damage them, until you reach each section's boss. Defeat it and move onto the next section and repeat.
The main draw for me is not the gameplay, but rather the art and music — both are simply stunning.
If you find that the gameplay isn't interesting, you can put your character on autoplay and they'll fight for you. I had several NPCs join me throughout my journey and I expect that you can play with other real players — I didn't experience this in the near week since the game launched.
The main draw for me is not the gameplay, though I enjoy the simple loop, but the art and music. Both are simply stunning, with the latter done by none other than Keichi Okabe himself — that's the composer for Nier Automata for those of you who don't know. The art style for each of the fairytale characters lost in the Library is gorgeous.
Overall, I love SINoALICE. Though they are definitely present and hard to overlook, the microtransactions aren't too bad. I mean, it's kind of annoying to buy currency to buy what amounts to a lootbox, but unlike other games (such as Call of Duty: Mobile), you can earn the Twilight Crystals in-game. It's just at a very frustratingly slow pace. This is really the only bad thing I could find with this game.
There's a lot more about SINoALICE than I can write about here, but you can easily spend hours figuring it all out. And there are Nier Automata and Nier RepliCant crossover events coming soon.
Game of the Week
Dark fairytale twists
From the mind who brought us Drakengard and Nier comes SINoALICE, a gotcha mobile RPG. Summon fairytale characters to the mysterious Library as you complete their stories to revive their respective authors. The gameplay comes in nice, bite-sized chunks for quick mobile play. There's a ton of depth and nuance to SINoALICE and you can easily spend hours playing and min/max-ing.