Capsule Review: ALTER EGO: Self-Discovery Clicker Game

An evocative and moody atmosphere and some interesting personality tests, wrapped in a half-hearted story and not really enhanced by the idle/clicker gameplay.

An idle/clicker game with visual novel elements and a handful of personality tests. Its theming and atmosphere are compelling and I can see the personality tests being interesting to many players, but the story doesn’t really go anywhere and the clicker gameplay just slows things.

The idle/clicker mechanics are fairly standard. You collect a resource called “ego” by tapping thought balloons as they scroll by; you can then spend ego to purchase ego-generating books and “read” them a page at a time - note that you don’t actually get to read the book; this just causes it to generate slightly more ego. You can then also spend ego to access dialog scenes with a character named Es - these provide further bonuses to your ego collection and have either a personality test for you or a dialog choice to advance Es’s story.

However, the structure that eventually reveals itself is disappointing. (Spoiler warning for the rest of this paragraph.) While individually interesting, the personality tests don’t interact with each other, get a final summation, or affect the story in any way. The dialog choices do affect the story, but in a simple and unsubtle way. Every choice has three options, two that obviously pull in extreme directions and one middle ground. Each choice steers the game toward one of three endings - the two extremes are bad and the middle ground is good. However, you can’t get the good ending until you see the bad endings, regardless of the choices you make. Whatever choices you make you’ll get a bad ending and be prompted to restart, following which you need to make the choices to get the other bad ending, restart again, and can finally make the choices to get the good ending. Thankfully, a number of bonuses carry over between restarts and your second and third runs will have almost no waiting, and you can also skip personality tests you’ve taken before, but this just shows how illusory the player’s choices are and how the game’s three pillars (idle/clicker, visual novel, personality tests) don’t meaningfully connect or enhance each other. And even in the good ending, the questions and mysteries raised by the story never get answered.

The game’s main strengths are its atmosphere, with an evocative and moody art style, and the handful of personality tests - the delivery of which is enhanced by that atmosphere. Wrapping this in a half-hearted story doesn’t add much, and neither does the boilerplate idle/clicker gameplay.

I Stopped Playing When: I saw all three endings and checked out a few post-game scenes. I did not pay for any additional episodes because the worldbuilding and characterization had been shallow and I didn’t expect them to be worthwhile.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.