A Tale by Alex


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JohnBatalebyalex.gifA Tale by Alex from Digital Dreams is a side-scrolling platform adventure told in three areas at the same time. You control Alex in three worlds simultaneously, jumping, attacking, and collecting coins like synchronized swimmers gone to ground. The bottom level is Alex's real self, but up above is the fantasy realm conjured by his imagination. Evil goldfish, a dark forest, and turtles the size of a Buick? Hey, if he can dream it, it can take form and attack his imaginary avatars!

The bottom world is the only place where Alex is safe. Here, he can walk through enemies and there's nothing to squish or stab him. In the middle, things start to get a bit crazier, as Alex's imagination starts to turn ordinary objects into dangerous objects. At the top of the screen is Sir Alex, knight extraordinaire. The toughest enemies and the biggest obstacles are packed here, so naturally you'll want to put a little more attention on the knight than the other versions of Alex.

Control Alex using the [arrow] keys and tap [Z] for a melee attack. Melee has a very short range, so don't rush into things before you've assessed the situation. When you have a long range weapon, you can fire it using the [X] key. Keep an eye on your ammo, though, because Alex can't carry an infinite supply of rubber bands around!

When one of the upper characters dies, you still have control of real Alex and the surviving avatar. Keep pressing ahead and you can often resurrect the fallen character by passing a certain point in the stage. If both top characters die, your game ends. Fear not, though, for A Tale by Alex includes an in-game shop you can use to purchase items between rounds. Gather coins and points, meet your inevitable doom, then buy better weapons, armor, and keys to unlock treasure chests at the shop. Then, saddle up and do it again!

Analysis: A Tale by Alex employs an increasingly familiar mechanic of controlling multiple characters with the same key strokes. Games like Jack in the Box use the same sort of design, though in Alex's case, the multiple screens/characters plays a much more important and artistic style of role.

Controlling Alex is simple, but minding two or three versions of him is anything but. Most of the obstacles are similar or identical between the worlds, but you can't count on symmetry to get you through the day. Keeping the characters lined up and watching their actions across the screen takes some getting used to. Even when you've got that down, you'll find yourself staring at the game over screen on many occasions. The nature of A Tale by Alex is focused on replays, and the more you play, the more stuff you can buy in the store, making your in-game time much easier.

While a lot of players may find the voice acting endearing, I found it a bit on the excessive side, giving speech to Alex far too frequently for my taste. The sense of wonder and imagination is unique, however, and since this is a tale by a child, you can expect an appropriate sense of fun, even when a goldfish drowns you with water.

A Tale by Alex is charming no matter how you cut it, and the divided screen makes for an interesting gaming experience. It's challenging to get used to splitting your attention, but when you get it, it's a much smoother game than you might imagine!

Play A Tale by Alex

20 Comments

It really does not want to play in Firefox

Has the makings of a good game, but really holding judgement here... Chrome was better but I hate it .. (chrome), so waiting until maybe it gets fixed at some point

[I doubt that you'll be seeing any updates on this. My recommendation is to use Chrome for Flash games. Firefox behaves poorly for me as well with most Flash games. -Jay]

There have been other games with a similar mechanic to this -- that is, controlling three tiers at once. It would be nice if this had its own tag, to make looking for games like this easier. I suppose I could search through the "sidescrolling" tag, but I can't remember what those other games are called.

Yes, but what would the tag be? If you can think of one, I'll make one.

Time Raider is the only one I could think of offhand:
http://jayisgames.com/archives/2007/08/time_raider.php

Jay, that was exactly the one I was thinking of! I'd forgotten that it also used the "rewind" mechanic.

How about "tiers"? Or maybe "simultiers"? (I'm pretty sure "3tiers1control" wouldn't fly. O:-))

"tiers", hmm? Let's see if someone comes up with any other suggestions and then decide. :)

I played something like this, with the two "tiers" as you call it, ray9na, but for the life of me cannot remember what it was.

Here are a few others with similar style:

Invertion

The Company of Myself

Jack in the Box

I think there are a few more...but probably not entirely in the "three-tier" style. ;-)

Hm. Yeah, I suppose controlling multiple characters at the same time is the broader mechanic at play here, regardless of where they actually appear on the screen.

Tag-wise, then, perhaps something more along the lines of "multiplicity"? *shrug*

I seem to remember Orisinal with a game with that mechanic.

On further thought, Time Raider would not qualify for this category we're discussing (I was remembering it wrong) but SplitMan would.

Oh, and ray9na, instead of 'multiplicity', which means a large number or variety of things, how about 'concurrency'?

Something as simple as 'joint-controls' could work as well.

As far as the game goes, I enjoy it and its upgrades, but without an ending in sight, I'm hesitant to stay to collect all of the upgrades.

I do not care for these sorts of in-sync games as a general rule. This one would be okay if there were more synchronicity betwixt the three worlds. Actions in one should sync up with/affect the other two.

I submit 'synced scroller' ...

Did I just kill a household cat?

On at Eyemaze made a great game: TONTOKO FAMILY(GAME): http://jayisgames.com/archives/2008/08/tontoko_family.php

This is a really sweet little game. Game-play is challenging, but fun, and the overall atmosphere of the game is darling. Personally, I really loved the little bit of voice acting, it was cute and personable. I love how he calls out for his mom when he hurts himself. So cute! Love the "rug is lava" bit. Who didn't play that as a little kid?

Yes! I should have mentioned On, but then I only remembered the four-paneled game. His family games are cute.

There's a reason I'm not on the JiG payroll. ;) "Concurrency" or "synced control" sound better than anything I've come up with.

How would you get the weapon? And how do you open the stupid chests?
I was about to rise from Baron rank and died.

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