Re: Alistair is a stat-based dating sim. You play Merui, a gamer girl obsessed with a MMORPG called Rivenwell Online. Another player has stolen your kill and claimed your prize, and you've since discovered that this player is one of three people who goes to your school. The problem is, which one?
I definitely want to give the writing bonus points right off the bat for having Merui be a gamer. After all, the very reason this blog was started was because of the misconception that girls don't game, so this is a welcome aversion of that old tripe. More generally, though, I think the characters are decent; the story is solid, and I like the way the emails and the gaming sessions are handled.
The art is likewise very good. Once again, it's based on anime/manga stylings, so a heads up to those of you who aren't fans of the genre. Presonally, I like it, and I enjoy the style change between the real world and the game.
The gameplay itself is something I'm a bit more ambivalent about. First of all, let me applaud the fact that the mystery of Alistair's identity has only one correct answer. You can end up with any of the three boys, but who you end up with does not in anyway influence who Alistair turns out to be. As for ending up with the boys, though, therein lies the problem...
This is the first truly stat-based dating sim I've ever played; while Festival Days had some Stats, they mostly influenced how much money you could earn, and other things that more or less became irrelevant once you cracked the system. In Re: Alistair, though, your stats determine who you end up with...I think.
The fact is, I'm not quite sure how it works. At first, it seemed pretty obvious to me: You have stats for Social, Network, and Intelligence, and your suitors are a Popular Jock, a Computer Guy, and a Smart Classmate. I initially assumed a direct correlation, then, between each stat and each guy, but single-mindedly pursuing one stat/guy resulted in *nothing*. If there's a combination that needs to be reached, I'm not sure what it is. According to the forums, success apparently lies in buying many, many objects, but there's no real clues for which objects to purchase (Except for one item suggested by each guy, but that's apparently not enough). At some point, I actually *did* get a good ending for one of the characters, but frankly, I'm not sure how I got it!
That's what really bothers me: I don't know how I got that good ending. I'm completely baffled. Personally, I think that if the player doesn't know what they did right, then something is wrong.
To sum it all up, Re: Alistair is pretty, well-written, and I have no clue what it wants from the player. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, ALISTAIR? WHAT DO YOU WANT???!!!!
*Ahem* Sorry. Perhaps you'll have better luck with it, though. Feel free to try it out and share your experiences in the comics.