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One Hell of a Bad Trip

I wake up alone in a filthy, cramped bedroom, floor littered with garbage, wallpaper peeling, and nothing but a lonely stool, a lamp, and a chest of drawers beside my bed. I stare at the empty dresser, and one thought, bitter and angry, fills my mind - He took away everything.

From the very first screen, Lisa make its intentions known. This game is here to make you squirm, and it's going to relish in every moment. It oozes disgust and decay. It isn't just some shallow gross-out however. This game is smart, doesn't give up its secrets easily, and is all the more powerful for it.

You play as an unnamed young, plain-faced girl (presumably the titular "Lisa") with lipstick awkwardly smeared over where her lips should be, as she traverses her own disturbing, hellish dreamscapes. There are only two other characters in the game, a deformed man with a rather... suggestively-shaped head, and a overweight, hairy man who I took to calling "The Guy". This second character is one of the most menacing, and terrifying I've encountered in recent memory. He sits in front of a television screen, completely oblivious to your existence as you escape his dirt-encrusted home/prison. He barely says a thing, and yet you know that this guy is evil. He invokes terror and helplessness, which speaks volumes about this game's atmosphere since he never actually poses a physical threat to the player.

The Guy is also fucking everywhere, which I mean quite literally. Nearly every NPC you run into in the game is this guy. There are towns entirely populated by fifty of him. There are bars which he both patronizes and runs at the same time. His presence is oppressive and comes from every angle. Over the course of the game, he takes the form of melting zombie-like creatures, to spiders with his head, to disturbing blank-faced monstrosities with heads crawling with worms.

Needless to say, Lisa is DARK. It's a lucky thing this game is so mercifully short (I beat it in about 25 minutes) because some of this game's content makes Silent Hill look like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I doubt I would have wanted to go on with the game much longer. Fields consisting entirely of raw meat, a town coated entirely in what looks like vomit... pretty disgusting stuff.

It's a shame the graphics don't always effectively deliver the goods. They are lackluster-to-downright-ugly and maps frequently feature large swaths of empty space that span the entire screen, so it's impossible to tell if you're going anywhere. Might've been a purposeful choice, but regardless, that's a big mapping no-no. The sprites appear to modified Earthbound characters, which is a strange choice, because as you may recall, Earthbound looked freaking terrible back in 1995, and time has not done it any favors.

The maps seem kind of thrown together without any coherent plan or direction which I suppose sort of makes sense since it's very likely the entire game is intended to be a dream or hallucination, but some more visual distinction would have been appreciated. The environments are flat and often uninteresting.

Another gripe would be that the segments where you have to avoid the aforementioned Spider-Guys are just plain frustrating and don't add much to the game. Maze sections where one wrong move sends you back to the beginning are kind of annoying, and I think there must have been a better way to implement these enemies.

The sound design, on the other hand, makes up almost entirely for the poor graphics and level design. Static and electronic noises, eerie bursts of canned laughtracks in the most inappropriate of places, and a creepy-ass mangled saxophone scale, are really what make this game's suffocating and oppressive atmosphere happen.

In Conclusion:

Lisa is daringly artistic, deeply disturbing, and covers subject matter most other games wouldn't dare touch. If you can stomach the lackluster graphics and poor level design, there's an experience to be had here you can't get anywhere else. The game only lasts about a half-hour, but it sticks with you much longer, whether you like it or not.


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Good read.

Earthbound looked freaking terrible back in 1995, and time has not done it any favors.

Only part I don't agree with >:(
Earthbound looked freaking terrible back in 1995, and time has not done it any favors.

Only part I don't agree with >:(

Don't get me wrong, Earthbound was a great game, but I don't think graphics were exactly its strong point.
Pages: 1