Wow, am I about to hand out another favorable review? Two in a row? I must be going soft. But it’s true, I did rather enjoy LiEat. I picked it up on sale during the anime sale and it has three LiEat games within it. So this review covers all three.
There are a lot of things that I have problems with when it comes to games. One of the biggest ones is ‘overstaying your welcome’. See, I don’t handle horrendously long games that well. Well… that might not be true. It’s probably better to say that developers don’t often make a long game a good one. I think this is driven by an industry standard in which long games = better games? Or perhaps you can charge more for a longer game, people might like to pay for a certain number of hours of playtime. But quite frankly, I think that’s a horrible justification for long games. That’s essentially saying that you made a game long to make the game long. It’s like padding on a woman, sure, it might make them seem more appealing. But at the end of the day you’re both disappointed. Ironically for the reason behind this game! Lying.
The game’s title is a very clever combination of the words ‘lie’ and ‘eat’. You will at some point in the game eat lies. Simple enough, right? Right. You play… well I don’t want to spoil the plot for this one so let’s just call them Dude and Efi. Efi is the dragon, she can eat lies. Dude is an information broker, but he seems to play detective. That’s where the lie-eating dragon comes in. You, the player, deduce what the lies are, and then eat them. You arrive at the scene. Something has gone down. You talk to everyone, gather clues, and then when you’re ready to do your deduction game, you’re given a few ‘lies’. Of the lies, there will be truths hidden. What this means is that you’ll have to use your notes and what the lies are saying to deduce which are actual lies and which are truths. You don’t want to eat the truth (apparently it tastes bad).
Combat is turn-based like every JRPG and their mum. But that’s not so bad because the combat doesn’t make up the bulk of the game. Combat is a fine method of progressing through a game, but it cannot carry a game. That’s where the rest of the game’s elements come together. LiEat has a magnificent aesthetic. It reminds me of Pokemon Gold and Silver era. It’s also kind of amusing when you realize how the art links together, but that’s probably just my gaming quirk. For instance, there’s a room with a giant eye in it. Really, it’s just two layers. A hole, and a background with an iris looking drawing on it. As you move through the room, the iris background moves with you, making it appear as though the eye is following you for creepy effect! Is that impressive? Not really. But it’s my blog and I’m going to squee over it because I think it’s awesome. The art style just really comes together. It has this Victorian feel to it… if I’m using that adjective properly. That header image? It’s not nearly representative of the game. Looks more like this
Isn’t that art fantastic? And the music! The music is fabulous! The music really sells the theme. It’s classy, it’s silly, it’s spoopy, it’s whatever the tone needs it to be. And it’s amazing how I never noticed the transitions until I noticed the transitions. That’s not the way I meant to word that. What’s a better way to say this? I never noticed the transitions until it was apparent that the mood in the story had changed to fit it? Maybe the best way to say this is that I never noticed transitions. The music always fit the tone and you, the listener, could not distinguish when the tone changed because it’s just done that well.
The story is generally rather basic. You could likely tell how things were going to play out well in advance. And perhaps that’s the game’s intention. Each game (LiEat 1, LiEat 2, LiEat 3) started with some kind of storybook sequence. A myth, a dream, something like that. And you could tell how the dream applied when you started playing the game and talked to all of the characters to get a feel for the scenario that you were about to play. The dialogue is well-written, each of the characters are as interesting as they need to be for their involvement in the plot.
Of the three games, I think the second one was the one best made. The first one felt like the stretching of legs, to see if this game concept would work. The characters are so adorable how could this game concept not work? The deduction game in the first one is rather simple. I got the bad ending first because curious =(
The second game was where the writers really seemed to hit their stride. The setup was great, the characters were rather flaunty, and the deduction game (while still simple) felt more involved. It felt like more work had gone into it somehow. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s how I felt. And Efi just seemed to be on her game for funsies the most in this one.
I don’t think the third game had a deduction game, and this might be why I rate it second. I tend to favor the third game more because it ties together the threads of the first two games, but it didn’t have a deduction game and the method to getting the good vs bad ending seems a bit too simple, which I’ll spoil because it’s that bad. To get the good ending you need to be a certain level before fighting the final boss. That’s it. That’s not what I want for my story endings! I want some choice that I made earlier in the game to be more significant! But the story itself reveals so much about the characters in the game. And I was more invested in the characters in these games anyway. So I rate three below two for gameplay, but three above two for story.
The thing that wraps this up in a nice little bow is that it’s wrapped in a nice little bow. The game is as long as it needs to be. This is the way I like my games. Show up, get in, get out. It didn’t drag itself out for the sake of runtime. It didn’t drag itself out enough to make me lose interest in the characters. It had three short stories that it wanted to tell. It told these three short stories in a timely manner. And for that I applaud it. It’s self-contained, a lesson that I think more developers should take to heart.
At the end of the day, I highly recommend this game. At the time of writing it’s $2.39 on Steam. That’s like $0.80 per short story. It’s worth it, I promise you.