Free Game Friday: “Lisa” (2012) PC
………..Oh, good fuckity God, people, this is going to be one of the hardest reviews I have ever done for this site. This game is, without any doubt, the most disturbing, upsetting, sickening game that I have ever played. Understand, that does not make it BAD, not at all…it’s good in the same way that The Girl Next Door is an excellent book. It’s the kind of game you play through and say, “That was a great game, and I never want to play it ever again.”
Okay, first of all, TRIGGER WARNINGS. TRIGGER WARNINGS UP THE FUCKING WAZOO, PEOPLE. This game deals with themes of childhood sexual abuse, incest, bulimia, and potentially self-harm. THIS IS NOT HAPPY FUN TIMES. If any of these themes trigger you, then stop reading right the hell now. Go check out “Flatland: Fallen Angle”, or “The Room Tribute”, or “Tearable World”. Those of you still with me, read on.
Okay. “Lisa” is made with the RPGMaker engine, much like “Ib” and “The Crooked Man”. “Lisa” has less in common with these two, however, than it does with “Yume Nikki” (yes, I will get to it some Friday) and that horrific Chick Tract of the same title (remember, kids, it’s okay to rape and abuse your six-year-old so long as you give your heart to Jesus!).
In “Lisa”, you follow the titular character as she explores various unpleasant worlds, worlds of rot and garbage, of vomit and darkness, of sexual imagery and misery. Sometimes the world appears quiet and normal, but the ugliness is hiding just beneath the surface. The first world is Lisa’s real-life house, inhabited only by Lisa and her father. The discomfort begins when you see the dirty house, the fact that almost all the doors and drawers are locked, and the sight of Lisa’s father slouched in front of the blaring TV. Things steadily go downhill as Lisa enters the dreamworld, a world where her father is ever-present, demanding random items like rum and banana peels, where she’s stalked by monsters wearing her father’s face, and a phallic-headed man named Rick says things like, “I like exploring caves. I like friction. But you already know that, don’t you?”
Yaaaaagh, do you see why this game disturbed me so badly?
I’m really not sure how far to get into this. I’m really not. There’s no real plot to detail, and the gameplay is the usual old-school RPG style. There’s no combat to speak of, and there’s barely even a menu screen to describe. The one thing I will say is that there is a point where you have to navigate a cavern avoiding some delightful monsters I like to call the “Daddy Spiders”.
It’s as disturbing as it sounds.
Anyway, the Daddy Spiders move at differing speeds and patterns, and getting around them is tooth-grindingly frustrating. I don’t know how long I spent trying to get through that frickin’ cave, but it drove me nuts in a way that few games have since the NES era. Also, I don’t mind telling you guys that when I first saw the Daddy Spiders, I fucking SCREAMED.
Honestly, I don’t know what to say. This game is upsetting, genuinely and seriously upsetting. If you have the stomach for it, have a look, because it is a really interesting, well put together game. It’s intelligent and thoughtful and full of symbolism, but it is also really, really obvious as to what it’s about. And that can be hard to get past.
I’m glad that I played this, but I really don’t think I will ever play it again.
You can download “Lisa” at RPGMaker.net.