Over the Alps is an exciting, spy romp from the very start and if you’re looking for an alpine narrative adventure then this could be the perfect game for you.
As Over the Alps is a narrative adventure game you’re picking the lines of dialogue and weaving your way through the story through a series of choices be that in conversation with other characters or finding your way across the map. The game is presented in a beautiful postcard style with bright colors, great animation and wonderful ambient sounds that really get you in the spirit for a spy caper.
Over the Alps is set at the start of World War II, just at Hitler was putting his armies in place. Throughout the game, you’re given newspaper headlines for orientation, which adds a nice depth to the way the story is told. The game is told from the perspective of the main character as he sends postcards back to his friend Aubrey, as the adventure unfolds across the continent.
The narrative storyline and illustrations are written out on the postcards, so the visual aesthetics of the game is weaved well into the game mechanics. Stamps are used to pick the way you’ll respond to questions and comments – you can act like a spy, act charming, act aggressively and so on. Your choices shape your adventure and the way characters respond to you. The stamps are colour coded and when you make a selection they are peeled off and stuck on the postcards.
Along your journey you’ll stop in a pub for a drink (or maybe a fight?), steal a car, maybe even a motorbike – all the while the cops are on your tail. It’s probably best not to be too wreckless on your journey, as too much carelessness and you’ll alert the wrong kind of attention. This game feels like an Indiana Jones movie in digital graphic form. Action-packed, fast and it’s a game that’ll stick on your mind for a long time afterwards. This is a narrative adventure game, so you’re not controlling a character around a space, you’re reading and making choices, however, there’s something about this genre of games that really gets into your head and keeps you thinking.
The writing, illustration and audio all tap into your imagination and unleash those creative thoughts and allow you, the player, to paint a picture in your mind, rather than have the game do the work for you. There’s definite value in that, and it’s something I hadn’t discovered until recently. The graphics in the game are very striking, tapping into old poster design with bright colour and very nice typography. The sound design is engrossing too, one minute on a platform at a train station, another with the wind rushing by and then the clink and clatter of a kitchen. All elements weave together very well and create a memorable experience.
Over the Alps comes from Stave Studios, and I spoke to Sam Partridge on Episode 37 of the podcast when this game was originally released for Apple Arcade. The team at Stave has experience in this genre with connections to Inkle (80 Days, Heavens Vault) and Failbetter Games (Sunless Skies) and that shows here in Over The Alps. Jon Ingold & Katharine Neil takes on the writing and you can tell as the quality oozes out of this game like Gruyère cheese out of a Croque Monsieur.
Overall I’d recommend this game. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I found it engaging, funny and it felt like a real adventure. If you’re used to action games, then this may take getting used to as adventure narrative games are somewhere between reading and playing video games. However, you should give it a try because the writing is witty and sharp and you get pulled along with gusto in this spy alpine adventure.
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