I kinda found this entire series boring and done before, I kept waiting for a twist that would blow me away since I heard such good things about it but nothing actually interesting ever came up. The format, the art style, the story, the interpretations of the source material, and the kinda trying to be noir-ish vibe has definitely been done before. I was seriously trying to find one element that was new to me. On the upside, I found the difficulty of the levels absolutely perfect. Solvable, yet tough enough for me to invest like half an hour per episode in this series.
From a story perspective there really isn't any overarching theme that ties things together aside from the fact that we're not given a lot of information, and a bunch of things that could have been set ups for interesting plot devices turned into "oh no, science has gone too far!" or "hur dur what if Alice in Wonderland was about drugs / what if we gave an animal a gun" kinda stuff and was such a downer. It's not like I wanted there to be a message or even a thesis, it would've been cool if there was a well built concept that was thoroughly explored.
The idea of 'show don't tell' actually plays out really well here, the game makers knew how to use their medium, and the fact that eventually there were sometimes different ways to solve puzzles was fun and inventive. Unfortunately when there's a huge expanse of characters that already have a vague background from the source material, it would kinda help if you told us how these characters connect to original versions in a way that isn't purely cosmetic. It would have been so emotional if the rabbit was the one who brought Alice into a life of crime and had occasional realizations of guilt in his diary, only for his memory problems to make him forget that at one point she depended on him, and if there relationship was played like a neglectful father figure and a desperate for validation daughter. There are shades of this sorta happening in the diary, which I imagine some people have probably skipped over, but there isn't enough of a relationship built for there to be any emotional impact. Same with the little girl who just shows up because isn't it messed up for a kid to witness animal abuse/experimentations? I don't care about this kid, the fact that she kept saying 'daddy' over and over again in the last tape does not sound like anything a real kid would ever say, no matter how wide-eyed and innocent. You can say that by eating so much of the weird fish she's stuck in a really innocent childish mindset even for an actual kid, but everything about her plays like an adult who never met an actual child trying to write something cute that the audience will feel protective over, and falls completely flat. Maybe if you don't want to make it too obvious, you could have some cute, clumsy drawings of cats taped around the lab, and in the little pods with the dead/mutilated cats could have little tags with test numbers, and pieces of paper taped below with names like 'Princess Fluffy Face III' or 'Dr. Meowfestopheles" to show that she really didn't get what was going on but was super excited to see all the cute little cats. For the background on the mystery aspects though, the show don't tell technique is like a pretty good, solid 2/5.
Even though I found this game on a list of horror games, I personally wouldn't consider this horror genre because what's really scary about it aside from the art. The creators don't even call it horror, I have no idea why it ended up on that list. It's more like taking what a middle-schooler thinks is edgy and cranking it up to 11, which I totally dig and can see how that makes for an indulgent piece of media, like having comfort food instead of something better for you because it makes you feel happier. There needs to be a sense of danger or inevitability for something to be horror, this is just a bunch of dark aspects being revealed, and sometimes the player character does something with moderately graphic violence that has no impact on like any other aspects of the game at all. Yeah, killing Alice in the beginning has a major impact, but that doesn't happen with the player observing, and that's more mystery than horror. Plus we find her as a skeleton and at this point there is absolutely nothing scary about a picked-clean skeleton, that's just a meme. Her being a completely clean skeleton also really confuses the time frame of this story, we find Alice in this grassy, temperate forest area completely decomposed with bones that easily pull away without a trace of meat. It takes years for a body to decompose that much, but also I can't blame the artist for NOT wanting to draw that because it would be horrific. Like something you would find in a horror movie.
Luckily, that was the categorizers fault and this game is a mystery adventure through and through. I absolutely adore the fact that almost anything you click, no matter what level of relevance it has, will result in a little bit of flavor text. It helps build the world, and when solving puzzles there are a ton of things you might think are red herrings but turn out to be important later on, or things that you think are going to be important but end up distracting you from the real solution. That kind of balance is SO good.
And with all the criticism I gave this game, it did come out around a decade before the time I'm writing this, so what's considered predictable or overdone has definitely changed since then, and by the amount of positive views this game got from other players, it was definitely fresh and inventive when it first came out. I feel pretty lukewarm about this game but don't regret playing it, and even though it's not my cup of tea it's very obvious that the team responsible for it is seriously skilled. I'll definitely look into other games they've worked on, but I'm not playing this again. 2.5 stars cuz I know I'm being super nitpicky even though this game is really well made.