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You're TEARING ME AP-screw it.

If you've played Yume Nikki and you go on to play this game you're probably gonna be thinking throughout the entire game "Yume Nikki Yume Nikki YumeOh god I need a shower after playing this gaF*** YOU BEARDED PINK SPIDERS!* So yes there is very much a strong Yume Nikki influence going on here, but it's neither a "fan game" in the sense that, say, .flow is, nor is it just an unadulterated rip-off either. It's its own game, one with a surface flavor of Yume Nikki and its own unique and strong, long-lasting aftertaste of urine, vomit and banana peels. There is also an even more rotten aftertaste it leaves behind, something I will get to much later on, but man does it make the rot you just ingested more palatable.

The only two characters of this game would seem to be the titular Lisa, who you play as, and a fat, bearded guy always wearing shades and is abusive in ways the game never explicates on but we can only imagine. Oh and what horrors come from those imaginings. The relationship between the two is not exactly clear, not to me anyway. Is Lisa his daughter? Wife? Girlfriend? Kidnap victim? Who knows, all we know is that it's apparent there have been things done to her that should warrant getting this man arrested, whatever they may be.

So the game starts where you are in your filthy, dilapidated room in a filthy, dilapidated home where everything, including chests of drawers, are kept locked, and going downstairs you hear the increasingly loud noises of the television which the man is watching, something with a laugh track, about "your mother" it sounds like. So it's already established he's the bad guy by his poor taste in comedy. Around him is a run-down kitchen, run-down walls, hell everything about this place should be torn down and burnt to dust. If he sees you walking downstairs, he'll yell at you to go to your room, where you must start over again, all ten feet of it. I got stuck on this part over and over again until I just clang to the wall on the far left and got out the door. I was like "wha...? But I thought I tried that already? Really? Just..." One of those moments. You know what I'm talking about Everybody who plays games regularly must surely have had one of those moments.

It is also this section I have my first real complaint about the game... the horribly uneven balance in the sound/music. When the game started everything sounded normal but downstairs the television sounds were just so obnoxiously loud, they about about compressed my brain into a frisbee. So turning the volume down to the point where I could put up with the noise (which was quite a ways) I could now barely hear the music. Yeah, that area needs a lot of work. Anyway, you get out of the house, and you think FREEDOM. You walk around toward a bridge and suddenly one of the most terrifying images in RPG Maker gaming, hell, make that gaming in general, history begins to assault your eyes, a massive, magenta sky composed entirely of the face of the bearded man looking straight at you rapidly moving along sideways. Yikes. Then you meet... him again? He asks if you're trying to run away from him, where you're given the option of answering either yes or no (I didn't play this a second time to see if a different answer even affects anything). I thought I'd be honest, upright and say it straight to his stupid bald, bearded, shades-wearing face and say "yes." He just told me that I'll never escape. I'm fearing that that was an omen of sorts. I run off, and am introduced finally to the ability to save my game (at a certain save spot) and to go into my inventory (which just teleports me to a room with the items I've collected just laying on the ground, where I can walk around an examine to see what they are and not much else).

Alright, so there are a noticeable number of things that this game takes from Yume Nikki so let's get them out of the way - both games have a central "hub" with one save point at said hub, and different entrances to different areas. Both feature strange, dreamlike imagery (obviously), which include rooms that wrap around themselves but where an item may be found, some NPCs who, when you interact with them, either make cute or disturbing noises, and one room with a set of pillars set like up like an archway where walking through it will change the initially mildly pleasant area into hell itself. And both involve exploration and collecting items from these terrible things invading your head. So, yeah, there are similarities alright, but don't get hung up on them because there is also the rest of the game to talk about.

Unlike YN, this is a more straightforward game. Each area is self-contained and linear, so despite a couple of wrap-around areas, it's a game that won't give you much trouble, not enough where you'd need a guide to find everything like how it is for most people who play YN. Alright, so enough with the YN comparisons for now. What do you do? There is no apparent set goal in mind, but obviously standing around won't help you figure it out sooner. So you can enter one of several areas, represented by either a rope, ladder or door. One of these areas is actually a fakeout. You'll see what I mean. You'll either laugh, or return the gesture. The game is basically a fetch quest of sorts. You collect one item which gets you another item in return to give to someone else, etc. Like, someone will want a banana. You give it to him, and as a reward you get a... banana peel. Thanks. Conveniently though there is someone who for some reason wants a banana peel and gives you a friggin'
severed finger
in return. And that's about par for the course with this game. You become so desensitized to how ugly this little world is it almost makes sense, in its own twisted way.

Did I mention that pretty much every single NPC in this game is the bearded man from the beginning? That's probably scariest of all. This is a game that really nails it when it comes to portraying psychological trauma brought on by an individual without needing to show off the explicit details. And their personalities are all different too. Some kind, others telling you to get lost, others not much in the mood for speaking at all. Some of them come even in different forms, like as the head of some water serpent-thing wobbling above a small pool. The worst one is in the area furthest to the left (the "beginning" area we'll call it), who chases you all over the map and every time he runs into you a text box saying "You can't escape" appears. Creepy, and also very annoying. Don't let him corner you and assault you with a wall of text boxes you constantly have to click out of to get away.

Now this isn't to say the game isn't without a sense of humor. Some of the strange things and strange demands of these beardy clones will definitely elicit a weird chuckle. There's the rum bar, filled with drunks and ne'er-do-wells and where the bartender decides he just doesn't feel like doing his job anymore and hangs out in the bathroom instead. And that fakeout area of course. And as disturbing as the neverending clones of Beardy McAbusershades is, there is also an absurdity to it that feels just blackly comical, especially considering the kinds of iterations of this character you get. Sometimes, in a game as relentlessly bleak as this, seeing the humor in it, no matter how gallows, is much needed. As much as I loved Yume Nikki, that game was an emotional drain I never want to experience again.

Now I want to detail the problems I have with this game. First, while the way switching in and out of inventory was a clever idea, it wasn't used in a purposeful way that I could see, and all it meant was being unable to exit the game like you would any normal game (as in, I have to go outside the window to shut the game down). An unnecessary gimmick if you ask me. Then, the actual environments are a mixed bag. Some of them really pile on the theme of living in abject filth where nothing but bodily fluids, rot and a clearly disgusting man surround you, to the point where the game offers plenty of toilets for you to vomit into (too bad the vomit sound effect is so week, it sounds less like she's puking and more like grunting from angrily trying to swat a fly away). There's a pile of vomit you can examine, and even also a puddle of urine... which is colored blue for some reason. Somebody's been drinking too much antifreeze it seems. But in between these there are also a share of bland and a bit repetitive environments too. The beginning area is basically a Zelda-like meadowy environment. You even get Zelda-type power gloves to move rocks around! There is also an area which resembles the interior to some Chinese palace perhaps, which is mostly empty and uninteresting to look at. It does feature though an amusing bit, a long hallway towards some grand waterfalls guarded by golden statues leading eventually to a center where sits... a golden toilet. Which you can puke into as usual. And go back. It also features maybe the most memorably hideous body horror iteration of Shades McFatbeard in the game yet. So at least it has those going for them.

Then there's the most infamous contention people seem to have with the game, one that I share: the spiders. Basically, the beardy's face with pink spider legs. They put together an appropriately abominable creation I have to say. But they are also the things that will cause you to snap a few keyboards in half along the way. So the first encounter is one that chases you around. If it catches you, you have to start the area over again. Then you get past it, which is only about a few feet, to a checkpoint. Unfortunately, this is last checkpoint of the entire area. Then it becomes a game of pattern observation and quick dodging, and also sometimes sheer luck. Getting hit by them will also often throw their patterns off making it just that more difficult to get by. My game even got bugged at one point and one of the spiders spinning in a circle around a wall in the middle moved upward somehow. Oh and also the spider from the beginning for some reason managed to chase me to my second checkpoint amid dying all this time and restarted me back to the FIRST checkpoint. Ugh. Once you're past that you have to move and move and move through these creatures with all sorts of patterns that will make your eyes collapse inward just looking at them until you reach the end, which is guarded by two spiders whose patterns the creator decided should be completely erratic this time. Moving around every which way, guarding the exit out of this area. Where getting hit by one of them sends you WAY back to the second checkpoint which is not that far from the first checkpoint, but much further away from the exit. Having these checkpoints spaced out a little more would have been good, move the second one a little closer to the exit and also a little further from the first checkpoint. Y'know, balance.

And that area won't be your last encounter with them. There is also an area where you must put your rock-pushin', power-glovin' skills to the test and it's also pretty frustrating but a bit less so, since it's a smaller area and once you get the rocks in place it's pretty easy to get back to where you last ended up. There is another area involving crazy weaving and dodging that I surprisingly managed alright that leads to the exit. After managing all this, anyone with arachnophobia should be cured, as their fear transforms immediately to hatred. Good job game, you've served some kind of therapeutic purpose at least. Really though, the main problem with these sections is the same problem that so many other of these RPG Maker games that insert obstacles requiring quick reflexes have, is that the way the controls work are not made for these kinds of sequences. You can only move in four directions, and even when running there is always this kind of split-second delay when changing direction that can throw you off more than you think, and when the area you're moving around doesn't cater too well to right angles it makes it more of a pain to move. It's also why I find games that use those angled stairways where instead of just moving left or right you have to movie up,right,up,right or down,left,down,left, whatever pretty tedious and also silly-looking. But in a strange way despite the frustrations to be had it also might be the most engaging part of the game. Kinda. I guess because it provides a nice deviation from the rest of the game and the section with the rocks makes for a nice little puzzle. But, the glitching, erratic A.I. patterns, checkpoints, and lack of more dynamic movement (there are these kind of games where you can strafe left and right as you move) do bring the enjoyment of these areas down a fair bit.

I think my biggest issue of all though, and the thing that really brings this game down, would have to be the ending. At least I think it's supposed to be the ending. If there's something I missed I would love to know, because I tried watching various YouTube playthroughs and all ended the same way. Alright so the game's objective, if you could call it that, it turns out is to collect a few VHS tapes. There are three in total I think. Not much of a spoiler since the main hub has a TV where interacting with it will simply tell you that you don't have a VHS. The last VHS tape, where you find during the game's finale, involves
a "confrontation" with your abuser, who is standing there, naked, before he disappears. Pretty skin-crawling. Then you're in a blank white room where all you can do is aimlessly move about while your tormentor taunts you with text boxes hammering in the message home that you'll never "get away" from him. It is very well possible this is from the perspective of someone who is, in fact, physically away from him. Maybe he did die or is in jail or something. But memories and trauma stay with you. Gives food for thought. The screen then goes red with the background taken up by a patchwork of his faces patterned together. You then can't move anywhere, just run in place. Then appears the words "The End" with you squeezed right between the two words.
But, ah! As it turns out this isn't the "real" ending after all! You can just transport yourself back to the inventory room, then back to the area where you were just in, which turns back to its original state and you can move around again, and is also where the last VHS tape can be found. So now you realize you were sent up, and the true ending, with the last tape, awaits. It HAS to be something interesting, right? Right?
Sadly, no. As you head toward the TV you are given a prompt about how to access your inventory and how to go back to the hub area. Strange, the game mentioned this already when you first entered but now it's reminding you again right before the finale? Is it a hint? It surely has to be. You put in the tape, and then enter a room which is white and peaceful-like with pretty music playing and all that. The background still shows a pattern of his face but, maybe, just maybe, could this be a sign to come for redemption, reconciliation with your abuser? Just something, anything interesting at all? Well, you walk upward and he stands there, turns around, the room goes red, the music turns scary and he goes crazy telling you that "hE lovES YOU DON'T rUN AWAY!" (yes they have letters randomly capitalized in spots to further convey his crazy, I guess). So you run the other way, the screen goes black and... Game Over? Then the title screen.
What, that was it? I tried doing what the game told me with going back to hub, and the inventory, but it just froze me there, and I kept getting the same ending. I actually felt mad. This was such a waste of programming. There is absolutely nothing new or interesting revealed here you didn't already get from the "fake" ending. It should have ended there to be honest, it conveyed the same message, and did so more cleverly and to-the-point. Here not only does it just confuse the player but also feels like it outright gives you the finger
(maybe that long rope up to the hand flipping you off was foreshadowing)
for actually expecting an actual conclusion. I mean, did I miss something? Was there something I was supposed to do that I failed to? Sadly with small games like these there is no real way of finding out, as these is such few coverage of the game outside of a few YouTube playthroughs that usually only know about as much as me or anyone else. But based on everything that it leads you to, it does give you the belief that you did indeed do something wrong, and if that's the case, I'd love to know what the solution to getting the "real REAL" ending is. Otherwise this is just a troll, and a really obnoxious one at that, one that doesn't belong in a game like this.

So yes the game has its virtues, strong ones at that. It is a game that really does get to you psychologically, in a way I've not seen any other game do before, which would seem to be its aim and for that I applaud it. But it also feels half-baked in many other aspects. Half the environments were interesting and half weren't, all areas are small and the fetch-questing despite getting some funny and strange results does get old. And, bad spiders, bad! Even if it is perhaps the most interesting environment in the whole title, gameplay-wise at least. So my feelings on that are more mixed than anything.

Still these would be forgivable if not for that terrible throwaway joke of an ending, which for that alone I am docking half a star. Please, someone tell me there's something I missed. I want to recommend this game more than I do because really, I DO recommend playing this if you are a fan of Yume Nikki and games similar to it, or a fan of psychological horror in general (psychological horror in a more mundane sense, not so much the Silent Hill/jump-scare variety, which I have to say is good to see for once). But I'm warning you, unless you know or find something I and many other people didn't, lower your expectations as low as you can go for receiving a proper ending.


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