The Last Night of Alexisgrad

by Milo van Mesdag

2021

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Number of Reviews: 4
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
It still works in single-player, November 22, 2021
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2021

I didn't play this game correctly. I played this as a single-player game, playing both sides of the story. Maybe much of the experience would be very different if I had played it correctly.

The setting is really good, and the backstory feels like the real story here. Alexisgrad is a republican city-state bordering a larger Kingdom, which has been through a recent (attempted) revolution that devolved into civil war and was ended by a compromise with the old government, but not before everything has broken down. Seizing this opportunity, the Kingdom decides to invade and conquer the city in its moment of weakness. It all feels incredibly bleak, and incredibly real, which is a credit to the excellent writing as well as the amount of thought put into the worldbuilding.

I thought that the Generalís side was not as interesting as the Dictatorís side. The choices for the General in the first half of the game feel like really nitty-gritty tactical decisions: do you lead the attack yourself or send a subordinate to do it, do you use infantry or cavalry, stuff like that. I donít know if those choices really matter, if they have some obscured or delayed hidden effects. On the other hand, the choices for the Dictator feel a bit more weighty throughout. The personal stakes for the General are much lower; itís never his life thatís on the line. Personally, I would feel more interested if the Generalís decisions were more strategic or morally involved or expressive in some other way.

In my playthrough I picked all the ďniceĒ options when they were available, and ended with the (Spoiler - click to show)Dictator being able to escape with her life (there are many endings, which I haven't tried to explore). Which was in accordance with how I usually play RPGs. I have no idea how the experience would have changed if I was playing with someone else. I can imagine it being an awkward experience if the players have different goals or levels of investment. I feel like thereís something missing with the player-player interactions. The method of interaction feels like silently passing notes, but the notes can only contain a single word. It doesn't feel... kinetic? Dynamic? The communication method feels like it's at a remove from the story, when the story itself is often about communication in a very direct way, in the negotiations between the two main characters. Then again, I didn't play it with another person, so maybe your experience is entirely different and I'm totally off-base here. Maybe the players are supposed to interact out of the game?

Anyway, this was quite interesting to read/play through, even playing as one person. I enjoyed the experience, and I really appreciate that the game is trying something new, something that maybe hasn't been seen in IFComp before?