25/08/2017

☆ Review: The Lion's Song - "A Study in Sepia" ☆

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The Lion's Song - PC
The Lion’s Song is a story-based video game adventure presented in a pixel-art graphical style. 
Split into four separate chapters each of which is around thirty to forty minutes in length and tied together through links in the narrative, it is a neat addition to any drama lover’s steam library.


All four sections of the game are set in Austria around the early 1900’s. The first section of The Lion’s Song is subtitled ‘Silence’, and in this chapter, you play the part of a musician called Wilma who has been sent to a remote country cabin in order to have some peace so that she can compose without distraction. 
The game play takes the form of light point and click interactive elements such as using the rhythm of a flickering candle as inspiration for your composition or having telephone conversations with a friendly stranger over the phone. 
A lot of the game is text-heavy, there are no voice-overs and much of the narrative is driven by the protagonist’s inner thoughts and feelings. I don’t believe there is a way to fail at the game, from what I’ve seen each dialogue choice or action can affect how the game plays out and the subsequent ending in several different ways.  Much like the previously reviewed ‘Herald’, this is a game that is more focused on the drama of the story than bamboozling the player with puzzles.



The graphics in the game are entirely sepia, which adds to the historical, romantic feel of the game. The zoomed-in pixel art style works in this instance but doesn’t allow for intricate detail, whilst the graphics are suited (and for someone of my age, pleasantly reminiscent of the late 80’s / early 90’s Amiga adventure style) they aren’t the games strongest asset, although they do fit in with the time period in which the game is set.
Character movement in the first chapter is minimal, as this part of the game focuses on such a small, claustrophobic location but in future chapters, the characters move more freely as there are more locations on offer. The second chapter  (Anthology) for instance focuses on a young artist’s internal struggles to capture his subjects ‘auras’ on canvas and features an over world map of the cramped streets of Vienna, it also has a cameo appearance by everyone’s favourite psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud!



The individual chapters tell compact stories focusing on a handful of relatable characters which are well-written. The length of each episode means that the stories aren’t drawn out or onerous but instead move at a decent pace without seeming flimsy. 
The second chapter features much more interaction and I found myself replaying certain parts to see what other outcomes would happen had I approached conversations and situations differently. At the end of each segment, you are shown what choices other players made throughout the game in the same way that Telltale Games work (although The Lion’s Song thankfully removes the quick time events prevalent in Telltale Games so that you can relax and actually enjoy the story fully, without waiting on edge to hammer ‘X’, press left or make sudden choices in a strict time limit). A neat touch I noticed at the end of ‘Silence’ was that if I interacted with different objects whilst composing my grand opus, the piece that played at the end of the game changed accordingly.



Sound in the game is complimentary but used more in the first chapter as it focuses specifically on the composition of music using the composer’s surroundings as references and muses, it takes a backseat in the other chapters, whilst I didn’t find any of the music or themes memorable beyond the first section, I also didn’t find them irritating, they seemed to exist in the background as an accompaniment more than the main attraction. I was also a fan of how the chapters interlinked. For instance, a gramophone in one of the chapters plays the piece of music from the first chapter and in another area, piece of art on a wall is painted by the artist played in the second section of the game, it all adds up to create a feeling of your choices having an impact in the world. There’s also a link on the menu that takes you ‘back-stage’ and allows you to interact with characters and objects when they are ‘out of character’, which was a lovely touch and explains certain motivations and gives more of an insight into the stories, I’d also like to mention how endearing the developer credits for each section are, I found them really well-implemented.
Summary:
To summarise, The Lion’s Song is a charming collection of short episodes that focus in on a character’s inner turmoil as they find their place in the social circles that their talent has propelled them into. The length of each episode and the amount of choice therein promote replay value and the stories are well worth seeing through to the end. 
I can imagine that the lightness of gameplay may put some people off, but as previously mentioned this is a game more concerned with the narrative content than puzzles or exploration. It’s a niche game, but if this IS your niche then I heartily recommend it. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours I spent in turn of the century Austria, and brown is my favourite colour.


Right, I’m off to try and convince a Viennese investment banker to take his clothes off so I can abstractly paint my interpretation of his suppressed desires.
Rating: ICE COOL

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Mi'Pu'Mi Games












Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)