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LISA (PC) artwork

LISA (PC) review

"LISA combines good gameplay with a story that you will remember for quite a while, whether you want to or not."

Welcome to the Apocalypse.

For an unexplained reason, all women disappeared from the world and thus mankind is slowly approaching its end. You are a broken husk of a man, drug-addled, beaten and abused, that finally finds something worth fighting for. And this is your start.

While the game gets called "dark" and "depressing" a lot it doesn't try to be mature by throwing the most disturbing imagery it can at you, although it has enough of that. Rather to fully be devastated one needs to pay attention, as the game often implies without showing. Story wise the game doesn't need and doesn't use long monologues and expositions. Rather the protagonist has a motivation to reach his goal, one you will most likely agree to and want to reach yourself.

LISA (PC) image

While the choice system is often praised, and every time it is used it is done so effectively, it is mostly the moments where you never got a choice that you wish you were given one the most. This can be very effective if used correctly, but also sometimes feels like an attempt to shoehorn in a worse situation. Once you beat the game and fully realize the scope of your choices they gain their full weight as well. You are, after all, a man at the mercy of narcotics. These make you unpredictable. There will be consequences beyond your control, and they will not end well.

Darkness is a running theme, but there's also sporadic humour and redemption to be found. Discover a cave will lead you to find the massive mutated monster trapped within whose girth has slowly filled every crevice until the underground network nothing more then its shell. You can burn it to the ground and, in doing so, gain a new party member with goals of his own. A CD rescued for the ashes reminds him of his brother; he joins you in the hopes of finding him

Party members are numerous, but have a habit of not lasting very long. Sometime into the game, the sadistic supplier of your drug resurfaces and manipulates things so you have a straight up choice; do you sacrifice three of your team to death, or do you submit to mutilation and lose a limb. Neither offer a happy ending; party members are not faceless sprites, but people with their own agendas and tales. On the other hand, having your arm lopped off is a literal handicap that significantly lowers your own usefulness. Lisa is a difficult game and whatever choice you make is only going to make it harder -- is it right to sacrifice three other people for your personal gain? Are their combined worth going to be enough to offset the loss of a limb?

LISA (PC) image

Though this is all made with an RPG-Maker-like engine, the custom tiles have been used to great effect. You would recognize most of the scenery and the characters immediately and if the game actually wants to, it can probably disturb you with what it shows you too.

You run from battle to battle basically, with the battles being fought in a Final Fantasy-style turn-based combat. This however does not get dull, due to refraining from using random encounters almost throughout the entire game, as well as introducing so many different enemies that almost every new fight feels unique. You will actually (somewhat) look forward to what waits next and actively seek out avoidable enemies and bosses. There is also enough of the game consisting of talking to people, trying to get loot and generally exploring, so that it doesn't feel like just being battle after battle. Also there is LOTS of platforming involved. The exploring can become confusing though, getting a bit Metroidvania at times when you backtrack all over the place and try to figure out which of the ten available passages brought you here.

Altogether, if you want a story that will not leave you untouched and generally a unique experience you will not find elsewhere, Lisa might work for you.

krozzus's avatar
Community review by krozzus (March 01, 2016)

Eric is new here, but really likes reviewing games. Fair critique is always welcome.

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EmP posted March 01, 2016:

Hey - you asked for some critique, so that's a thing I'll do.

I've gone back through your review and edited out a fair few typos. It's always worth running a completed draft through a spellchecker before you finish. I'm awful at leaving typos in as well, as anyone else on the site will jump at the chance to mention, but it's an important thing to stay on top of.

Mainly, I would label your review as a 'tell; don't show'. You talk about all these cool things LISA does (and reminds me that it's sitting in my Steam queue unplayed, which I really need to fix sooner or later) but you could really profit by dropping examples to back up the assertions you forward. Doing so would also help address another problem that crops up, that your review does come across as a list rather than a complete piece of writing. This gives you problems such as you sound paragraph being a/ not a paragraph at all but a sentence and b/ telling the reader exactly nothing.

Hope that helps.
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krozzus posted March 02, 2016:

hello emp and thank you for answering. on typos i fully agree, shoulda checked. However my issue with giving examples is that I cannot do so without spoiling which I do not want to do. Having the choice between being pretty damn vague and simply ruining the best part i thought i'd stay vague. when reviewing how do you bypass this?
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EmP posted March 02, 2016:

My usual rule is that if it happens in the first twenty minutes of the game, then it's fair play to talk about in any detail. Other than that, taking an example from a game doesn't mean you have to completely dissect it and tell the reader exactly what happens to spoil the impact. Really, it's just learning the difference between telling the reader something and showing the reader something. You don't have to tell the gamer how you got there, but talk about some of the moments that really shocked you - you don't have to talk about how they end or how you triggered them, just that they exist is enough. When you're feeling confident enough, you could talk about how things like the music and graphics either helped or subtracted from this, and that will in turn make the throw-away paragraphs you felt were necessary obsolete.

Try this: post a couple of examples here in the feedback topic. Be as vague or descriptive as you like; just moments of the game that really stood out for you and we'll find a way to include them in the review without dropping spoilers.
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krozzus posted March 02, 2016:

Im excited to review super hexagon at some point. Not even enough content to leave anything undiscussed lol. anyway back on track. You are given the choice by a sadistic man who has tormented you as his own little experiment for years on end by being the sole source of the drug he got you addicted to. Do you want your arm chopped off or do you want to sacrifice 3 of the friends that went through hell and back with you? What adds to this is the fact that the game is really REALLY hard even on the easyest difficulty and your attacks will weaken and your chances of beating the game will decrease. However is it right to sacrifice 3 other people for your personal gain?
The moments where a choice would have been nice is every time you fall into a drug induced rage and kill literally anyone in your path. friends are left standing in fewer numbers every time.
There is also a party member you can only get by playing a CD. Said CD you get from a horribly disfigured mutated monster of a human that has been slowly but steadyly expanding throughout an entire cave complex and you are glad whem you burn it to pieces. The companion then joins you to find his brother as that was his favorite CD and he hasnt seen him in a long time and really misses him.

you know i just realized sticking to stuff like super hexagon would literally be my best option. I have enough storyless games to review that i do not need to cramp around so hard to review things like this.
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EmP posted March 03, 2016:

Puzzle games represent their own set of challenges when reviewing them. Trying to find something interesting to say is half that battle!

I've taken your examples and I've edited them into the review while taking away some of the more redundant points. Don't feel you're obligated to talk about sound and graphics standalone if you've got nothing to really say about them; if you're unable to weave them into the an example then they're just going to stick out as an awkward add on rather than as a piece of a completed review. Because I'm a show-off, I threw a few screenshot in there, too.
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krozzus posted March 03, 2016:

speaking of those would like to do that as well. How do you do that?
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krozzus posted March 03, 2016:

oh and since I didnt say it yet: thanks for accepting the reivew, keeping on helping and editing it into something useful
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EmP posted March 03, 2016:

If you go to the game's main page (where you clicked the link to submit a review) you'll see at the bottom there's an option to view contributed image assets. If there are no assists available, then you can ask for some to be submitted (the option for you to submit your own will become available once your account is a little older) Assuming there are images, clicking on that link will take you to a page very much like this:


The HTML code you will need to insert the screens is beneath each shot. Copy that, and paste it into the part of your review you want the screen to be in.

And you're welcome. The review was always useful, but I'm happy to offer up pointers to anyone who wants to try and get a bit better.
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krozzus posted March 05, 2016:

If I want to bother people other than you, what is the best place to ask questions around here?
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EmP posted March 06, 2016:

If you want to ask about getting a game page created, there's a topic for it. You can find it here.

Otherwise, just go into the forums tab in the toolbar at the top and post a topic in the Contributor Zone. Someone will probably stumble onto it there.

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