RE: Alistair++ is a free visual novel game from Sake Visual. Merui, the main character, loves video games, so RE: Alistair is set in both her high school and her virtual world of Rivenwell Online. One day while playing Rivenwell with one of her friends, an evil character called Alistair steals a rare drop from a boss she and her friend Fiona defeated. Gutted at her loss of such an exclusive item, and realising that Alistair must be from her school due to a power outage, she sets out to recover her item by figuring out the identity of Alistair.
If she can find out by the end of the month, her precious Blessed Stone will be returned to her! There are three likely candidates at the school, so which of them is it? You can find out by spending time and delving into their secret pasts with a variety of conversation options and items. RE: Alistair has a great writing style, that's also very witty. Merui is such a likable character that you'll be rooting for her all the way! The three potential candidates to be Alistair are Derek, Travis, and Shiro; but they could also be your knight in shining armour!
While on the face of it, it doesn't seem much like a potential dating sim, it actually is, but it's not totally central to the plot. You can date any of the three characters either genuinely, or in an attempt to find out more about the mysterious Alistair. The game is very light-hearted with serious undertones about family and responsiblity, but it doesn't dwell on these for very long.
The gameplay comes in the form of selecting the correct dialogue, but also raising the appropriate stats to appeal to your potential lover. Each day you can choose to eat lunch in one of three places, after school you can perform one of three tasks, and in the evening you can check your mail or perform one of another three stats, all of which have different effects. The mall is pretty central to the gameplay and it's difficult to gain a boyfriend if you don't invest in some of the items he might like or suggest to you, and you can gain cash from your part time job helping out at the school.
The reason why this game is better than other dating sims is that everything isn't so black and white, like raising stats to a certain level. There is a lot more guesswork involved and the affection stat is there but it isn't exactly visible, so you've got to use your instinct to find out if you are close enough for a romance, or if you've chosen the right answer.
I love the artwork. It's absolutely adorable and the CG stills that are unlockable are amazingly sweet. You can view these in the extras screen, and if you acquire a character their BIO will also be displayed in the extras. I was really spurred on to unlock everything and I've only got one more character left! I had a lot of fun with this game, it's short but sweet and it'll keep you coming back for more. It's charming, I love the Rivenwell interface and as a gamer the whole story and theme appeals to me a whole lot.
And the most awesome thing is that it's totally free! I would have paid money for this game.
Overall, I give RE: Alistair++ a 9.5 out of 10.