Developed By: Dingaling Productions Published By: Serenity Forge Categories: RPG Release Date: 07.18.23
You ever play a game that is just so hopelessly dire and dreary…yet still finding ways to have a sense of humor, as messed up as said humor gets? Yeah, that’s LISA. A bit of an indie darling of an RPG on the PC front funded through Kickstarter with a rather small budget, it’s now enhanced and now on consoles.
LISA: Definitive Edition is home to LISA: The Painful, as well as it’s epilogue-esque DLC expansion, LISA: The Joyful. You will not be getting the original LISA: The First, but it is free, so feel free to track that down.
I wasn’t too sure what to really expect from LISA when I started playing. I knew it was violent, I knew that online imageboard circles enjoyed it, and I knew that it was a bit of an RPG, but I didn’t know anything else. So I stepped in. A post apocalyptic world, women are all but extinct…but a baby is found, or rather just dropped. The lead Brad works to take care of this child and he seems to be doing a decent enough job for what he can do. That is, until the young girl is stolen. This starts our journey into hell. Thankfully, or not so thankfully, Brad doesn’t have to do this alone.
On the overworld, you’ll take on a 2D side scrolling control style. Brad isn’t exactly mobile though. You can jump up small platforms or cliffs as well as drop down, but if you drop too high, you will get hurt, the higher the more damage you take. This does lead to a funny joke later where you accidentally fall on top of a guy who was attempting to ambush you. LISA has a lot of humor like this.
In battles, your first thought would be Earthbound or Mother. Kind of typical considering this a western made indie RPG, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess. Something that jumped out to me though was all of the status effects. It reminded me of a little RPG called Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden. That was a bit of a silly game that had a lot of absurd status effects not exactly typical for RPGs. With LISA, one stood out the most to me. The withdrawal effect. There’s an item you can use in game called Joy. It’s a drug that can just make all the pain go away, but it is a harmful drug either way. Brad is going through withdrawals from it and it can and will hinder him in fights, so you can always use Joy if you want. Up to you.
Most characters you have in your party control normally, just pick an option, an attack, a special move, you know. A few who use fist to fist like Brad can use combos. You can always just mash certain moves or combine them in a specific order to use a powerful special move. Or you can just pick them from a menu, but that’s boring and lame.
You are often given choices in game that can and will matter. One super early on gives you the option of giving up your teammate…or all of your possessions. It can be an easy one, it should be an easy one. But this party member is useless, he’s annoying. Your items are rare and valuable…but that’s still a human life. That all aside, you’re going to go through many a party member as the story goes on, some of which you will need to let go of or will pass. It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.
The game will make you like these rejects however, even if some of them are a royal pain in the ass. You’re gonna be trying to sleep and one of them is going to talk your damn ear off again and again about how much he hates his coupon cutting wife and how shiny your head is, and then call you the asshole for trying to sleep and not interrupting. It kept on going and going and going and it got to the point of ridiculous on how long it was getting, but at that point I was laughing at how long this conversation kept going on for. It’s stuff like this and the fact you at one point just walk past a bloating corpse that pops on top of you that get a chuckle out of me for how little this game seems to respect you. And I respect that. And if you’re willing to get through that, you’ll find a rather heavy game that when it needs to get something across, it will.
I did get lost a handful of times playing. On top of there not really being a map, it’s not exactly explained where you need to go clearly sometimes. It’s not entirely vague, but a lot of places do look similar to eachother that can make things a bit of a trouble. I suppose this makes the act of finding new places even more enjoyable. You get a taste of some new funky music too. Which can lead to another gag. There’s one cave where you hear some new music and see a random guy next to a boombox. He’s not gonna shut it off, but you can just kill him to shut it off if you want. Then it gets too quiet…
I was won over by LISA. I always hope that RPGs can be more than just turn based fights again and again, and whether it’s from it’s humor or mechanics, the odd ones always have me wanting them. If you’re likeminded, grab LISA: Definitive Edition, and even if you’ve played them on PC, they’re portable now and have those enhancements like an easier difficulty.
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review