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Side-Scrolling RPG LISA Is In A Mess

There may be a good game somewhere underneath the unexplained mess that is LISA. I’ve yet to find it, despite watching its unskippable, fifteen minute long intro four times now. I know there’s good to be found here, but it’s worth mentioning the state the game’s been released in.

Running either in a 640×480 window, or stretched to full screen, with no options to expand between, its splendid pixel art is either too small to discern, or too big to enjoy. Once started, it launches into its deliberately esoteric, achingly slow opening sequence, during which you’re very occasionally required to walk a character to the left or right, before it takes over again. When this is finally complete, it puts you straight into a JRPG-style turn-based combat sequence, with no explanation of anything at all. Finish this, and you’re finally free to roam. Roam to the right, and it kills you, and forces you to watch the entire thing again.

I’d already started it again twice, in efforts to fathom what the stinking hell is going on with its controls. Again, as there’s no explanation of anything, I was left bewildered, wondering if I was missing something as I moved a character to the left or right in a world that appeared to have surfaces to jump and interactive objects but which wouldn’t let me jump or interact. Wondering if I was supposed to be using a controller instead of the keyboard, things became even more ludicrous. That fight sequence required using WASD to attack, in some form. Those letters are mapped to the controller so ludicrously that one of them falls on the d-pad, another on the Start button.

So remap them, right? Oh my goodness. After finding the control options by blind luck (F3, it turns out), I discovered a madness. I could assign A, B, C (?), X, Y, Z, L, and R to, um, “Button 1”, “Button 2”, and so on. Huh? Great. So no help there. Back to the keyboard.

Oh wow, the keyboard control options are even more insane. As far as I can tell, they require an Enigma machine to fathom.

(I’ve just spotted on the Steam forums the developers explaining that,

“R = W on the keyboard

X = A on the keyboard

Y = S on the keyboard

Z = D on the keyboard”

No.)

I’ve heard lots of good things about LISA, but you can’t release a game in this state. I’m going to persist, watch this godforsaken sodding intro yet again, and see if I can discern some method of saving – I’m not convinced there’s a manual save, since I’ve found no such option after hitting every key on the keyboard. (Guess what! F12 resets the game back to the main menu without warning!)

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John Walker

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