Alisa Developer’s Cut is a blast from the past. I remember playing this back in 199- hold on a minute… this isn’t a 90s game. Why the hell does it look like a PlayStation One title, then?!? Retro, homes. Retro.

If you read ‘4:3’ and are having flashbacks to maths, perhaps you might not appreciate that this was the golden ratio for games ‘back in the day’. Casper Croes has meticulously constructed the vertical black bars to frame this low-poly throwback – and, thanks to Top Hat Studios, you can play this on your PS5!

Monsieur, with these visuals, you are surely spoiling us, no?

Alisa Developer’s Cut won’t be for the impatient. Fixed cameras aren’t those Ring ones you have hooked up to your porch, garage or hidden in the shower – every location in this game is cinematically framed to create tension, drama, and frustration.

Alisa Developer's Cut PS5 Review - House call
House call. Source: PR

So what gives? What’s this all about? Alice, Arisu, Alisa – take your pick – is a third-person survival horror where you take on the role of the titular Elite Royal Agent in a fantasy 1920s era. After exiting a train while chasing down a creepy, bowl-cut thief, she gets split up from her team and awakens in a Lewis Caroll-like mansion, dressed to the nines like the pinnacle piece within a dollhouse.

It appears she’s trapped in these digs and needs to find her way out by solving logical puzzles, conserving ammo, and locating keys to get through to the next room with the aim of escaping this madness. First, let’s get her out of this stupid dress. Ah… that might have been a bad idea. Still, look at those pins!

Once your eyes have adjusted to glaringly dated visuals, clunky control system and abysmal voice acting, you get to the disposition of wondering whether you want to escape and instead embrace the warmth of a well-made retro experience. Fans of Resident Evil 2 (the real one) and all those fixed-point survival horrors of the 90s will love this. Some of the character modelling, storytelling elements, and, again, voice talent, make House of the Dead 2 feel like Othello.

Why is it so damn fun, then?

Alisa Developer's Cut PS5 Review - All mime
All mime, no trousers. Source: PR

The mansion in Alisa Developer’s Cut isn’t huge, but the different camera angles make it grand and encourage exploration. That is, as long as you can remove or avoid the threats. Combat is way more forgiving than its peers, as Alisa can outrun every enemy and has the turning circle of a pro skater on butter. 

The complimentary nuts are the ammo usage, as the developers have been quite generous. You can buy (limited) ammo from a hand puppet vendor and pick up some along the way. Sporting a melee weapon such as a sabre or mallet means you can conserve your bullets for the bosses and more elusive creeps scattered throughout the game.

Alisa can spin around 180º to face attackers and, as mentioned, can outpace most. This is a minor flaw, as most of the time, you can run behind an enemy and slash it a few times without much effort. It’s a design element, as prominent with the style, and though it takes some initial getting used to with the combat, sprinting around areas with ever switching cameras can be the irritant you can’t wash away with warm water.

Alisa Developer's Cut PS5 Review - Alice
Alice? Is that you? Source: PR

There are a handful of control schemes in the game. Regardless, there’ll be times of frustration when you might be outrunning an enemy – to save on ammo or outrun some invincible floaty tart in a black dress – and the screen will change the direction you were dashing in changes on the controls, forcing some clumsiness and potential deaths. And get this: you have to pay for your save points.

Alisa earns cogwheels for each kill in exchange with that glove puppet freak. Besides ammo, medikits are on offer, guns and melee weapons, plus beautiful dresses that boost healing, allow Alisa to swim, or make her look… pretty. More importantly, a save game will cost a wheel, and though a fair amount of locations are available, if you aren’t as regular with your saving habits as your bowel movements, you might have to repeat a large chunk.

However, the awkwardness of the control system is a minor oversight as Alisa Developer’s Cut is hella fun – especially for veterans and retro fans. Put aside that voice acting and dated visuals, and you have a very solid adventure fuelled by resource management, simple yet entertaining puzzles, and a wacky cast of characters that makes this a surreal rabbit hole you’ll wanna delve into, then repeat on a NG+ and unlock one or all of the multiple endings.