“Later Alligator” by SmallBu Animation (Lindsay Small-Butera & Alex Small-Butera), Pillow Fight Games (Conrad Kreyling & Jo Kreyling), Matt Hopkins, Ian Worthington, James Dowdell, Christopher D. Russell, Tracy Flanders & Joe Wang.
“[This game] tells the story of Pat the alligator, a (mostly) harmless and (probably) innocent reptile at the center of a conspiracy that could bring down the biggest, scariest family in Alligator New York City: his own! Explore the city, meet the [f]amily, and try to save Pat before the clock runs out.”
Let me say it right at the beginning: “Later Alligator” is one of the cutest, most wholesome games I ever played in my life. The fabulous cartoonish art style is for sure a reason, but all the love the whole team spent into creating all the characters and Alligator New York City is just outstanding.
You play as an alligator who is just checking in at the John Johnny’s Hotel, but all you can see in the foyer is an angsty alligator kid named Pat. As you start a chat with him, he freaks out and immediately tells you his deal: He is afraid that his family plans a murder on him, today at eight o’clock sharply. Why today? Because it’s his birthday and he has to pay for what he has done.
Of course that’s nonsense; Pat is just super paranoid. Either way, he convinces you to visit the four districts of the town (namely Alligator Memorial Park, Unsavory Part of Town, Fun District and Down Town), so that you can meet his relatives to gather information of the planned event in the evening. But they won’t spill any details without you doing a little favor for them. In the form of sometimes goofy, sometimes clever, but always joyful mini games, you will accomplish tasks for them.
Removing ghosts from a haunted smartphone, helping a criminal mastermind kid to gather the most amazing plushies out of a crawl machine, going out on a pretend date to build up the self esteem of a loner – that are just three out of the thirty duties that wait for you.
But the city is not just filled with Pat’s family members, but also 70 more characters of all fashions. All of them are adorable in their very own way (okay, the Valentino twins are rich kid crocodiles with a garbage attitude, but eh, what can you do). A very special character is unknown to you at first, but already helpful. A suppressed number will send you little hints about the city, like collecting the hidden puzzle pieces that are widely spread all over Alligator New York City, and start to chat with you for a bit. In the later game, they even reveal their own location, so that you could meet them… I’m sure a curious mind like you will follow this call, wouldn’t you?
But back to Pat’s family. Whenever you succeed in their mini games, they will hand you out a badge. These can be used to prepare a gift, which Pat’s mother is preparing: An actual family tree. It’s just beautiful to see all the relations between the characters, evolving a bigger picture step by step.
There are so many beautiful moments in the game that I can’t write all of them up, so I will just share one of my favorites. In the park, you will a little child all on its own. Nobody is playing with him, so you decide to play his most beloved game of all time: Hide and seek! The mini game begins, but your goal is not to find him, but to actually let him win, so that he feels good about his hiding skills and opens up afterwards. I found that to be so cute, as there is no competitive element in this task. You just want him to have a good time. And that’s what summarizes “Later Alligator” in the best possible way, I’d say.
So in the end, “Later Alligator” is an audiovisually and storywise charming, entertaining game about many different things like acceptance, taking care of yourself and others, kindness, family bonds, friendships and facing your fears. If you want to find yourself smiling all the time while playing a marvelous video game, then this one was made for you. See you later, alligator!