I downloaded this game as soon as I found it was out, and I reached the credits over a couple of sessions.
Casper Croes should be very, very proud. Sometimes when a game is a throwback, it's very shallow, clearly just so that the trailer can make dummies like me buy the game. Alisa is clearly the result of someone who loves the classics that defined the survival horror genre, and more importantly understands what makes such games so striking. The world is carefully planned, the camera angles are cool and dramatic (SOMETIMES they're a little distant from the player), the FMV cutscenes are authentically rendered and placed.
The flow of the game is very clever and natural, a good combination of the criss-cross navigation of the first early Resident Evil games, while each wing of the house also act like thematically contained zones that fit in the larger world, the way the early Silent Hill games split up each area.
The story is largely swathed in mystery with the only clues being the few documents you read and characters you meet. Some might like a denser plot and it may feel too much like "just a haunted house", but I actually appreciate the light touch. The sights, sounds, and tone do plenty of work. Even then, it's a VERY fun haunted house. There are a number of unique enemies made for particular rooms that are quite a shock when you meet them.
Despite the familiar tank controls, the gameplay loop feels more unique than its inspiration. Including currency introduces a new incentive for fighting enemies and investing in gear. I often had to weigh the reward for defeating enemies with the effort to defeat them, along with the resource I'd use in the process. I didn't sit down and do the math to figure out how well planned it all is, but it's definitely interesting to think about while playing.
The player inventory is largely unlimited, so there's no worry about avoiding medkits or ammo you come across. On the flip side, you can ONLY carry two weapons with you, until you can switch them out at a safe room. I think it's a good way of emulating the resource management of the genre classics without being so anxiety-inducing.
And a big, important disclaimer: this game is HARD. There is definitely an expectation that you've played games like this before, and that you can run, escape, and aim efficiently. There was only one boss that didn't brutally kill me on my first encounter. I can't currently imagine anyone having an especially great time unless they played a game like this in the 90s, or are themselves invested in the history of the genre. Still, those people might enjoy watching someone play it! My wife had a blast watching me play it.
I'm excited to see how this game looks after subsequent updates. I'll definitely revisit it. Thank you for this refreshing trip to the past, Casper Croes.