Taisho x Alice thoughts

Taisho x Alice (or Taisho Alice) is made as several games: Episodes 1-3 and an Epilogue. Episodes 1-3 each have two routes, and the Epilogue has one. Each route features a love interest who is a twist on a fairytale character. I’ll let you read the summary elsewhere.

taisho alice box art
Box art for the full Japanese Vita version.
English version is on Steam only as of 8/2021.

Do I recommend this game? Depends on who you are. I enjoyed it, but there are plenty of caveats in there. Don’t treat this game as an otome, and you will be the happier for it. Several of the later chapters deviate sharply from genre expectations. The main character is unique in a way that doesn’t go over well with everyone.

HOLY TOAST CONTENT WARNING: mental illness, self-harm, suicidal ideation, sexual assault (not by any LI), body dysmorphia, eating disorders, violence, depictions of blood, and mild sexual language. It’s a lot. Episode 1 is pretty light but then things get hyper dark. The Kaguya route is especially heavy, and then there’s a bunch of creeping dread in Snow White’s.

Does she look maniacal here or is it just me?

The storycraft is the game’s strength. Each episode has details in it that reward you if you pay attention. If you skim the story, you will still understand it, but it will lose many of its “oh wow” moments. Something feels not quite right? Don’t discount your instincts. When I went back to replay some scenes, I said to myself, “This important story element was right in front of me, and I somehow didn’t pick up on it the first time, nicely done.” So this game is definitely worth replaying and reinterpreting if you enjoyed your first playthrough.

There are quite a few choices per route, and some routes are minefields full of bad ends. I’m looking at you, Kaguya.

The game takes on many mental health issues. I don’t know what the Japanese treatments or diagnoses are for many of the symptoms presented. In the US, I believe they would be handled differently. But it’s not something I’ve seen in a Japanese VN before. Primula is a smaller studio than Idea Factory, so they may be willing to take more risks.

episode 2
Okay this seems like the dudes are a bit more sinister, which I guess checks out for the chapter

The heroine, Yurika, is not a normal person. Keep that in mind and you’re more likely to get a good ending. She’s a lot of fun to watch, but she also does several questionable things that made me think she needs some psychiatric help and therapy before she gets involved with anyone. The heroes also tend to have deep trauma, and I’m not sure that any of these relationships are healthy or could be without a lot of intervention. Bottom line: these kids need a lot of therapy. The adult figures in the story all let the leads down at several points.

Does it end happily? As well as it can. But the reader should come in prepared for plenty of pain and issues that get handled in a way that may have non-Japanese audiences scratching their heads. The frame story is a love story, but later the chapters handle more of a mystery plotline with less romance. If this sounds like it’s your cup of tea, then yes, I recommend it. Otherwise, I’d do more research if you’re not sure you’re in the mood for some dark themes.