A review of LiEat (PC)

It’s been a long time since I wrote a proper game review. Plenty of commentaries and analyses and complaining about everything I hate about life and the world and all that, but no reviews for several months now. Since I have a tall pile of games to complete that I bought during Steam sales (a digital pile, I guess, not a physical one, but I still imagine them stacked up on my desk like it’s the early 2000s again) now seems like a good time to get back to my roots.

The first game I completed in my massive haul was LiEat, a short RPG series about an unlikely pair: a traveling conman who constantly changes his name and appearance and his companion, a young dragon girl named Efina (or just Efi) who has the ability to see the physical forms of lies and eat them. The version of LiEat I got on Steam is actually a trilogy of three games titled LiEat I, II, and III — each game takes place in different settings and with some differences in cast, but the main characters are always Efina and the conman, who first shows up in LiEat I with the name Leo.

Efina eats a lie.

Efina’s ability is a complete mystery, both to her and to her guardian. Even her birth is a mystery: she just happened to hatch from a giant egg that Leo happened upon while he was walking along the road one day. Since Efina didn’t have anyone to take care of her, she attached herself to Leo and started calling him “Papa” much to his annoyance. But Leo takes her in anyway, both looking after her and making use of her lie-eating ability to solve mysteries and hustle people out of their money.

You defeat a lie by beating its physical form down to 0 HP. If only it were that easy in real life.

Leo and Efi make a good team, despite how weirdly the pair seem to match. Efi is naturally curious about the world — despite looking like a pretty normal human kid and having the ability to reason and talk, she’s only a few months old at the start of LiEat and is excited to learn all she can, both about the world around her and about her unique power. Leo, meanwhile, is a jaded, world-weary guy in his early 20s who only likes “beer, money, and women” and tells Efi to shut up when she’s getting on his nerves. Not a natural father figure, but Efi seems to cheerfully accept Leo’s attitude.

It’s no use lying to Efi, but Leo does it anyway.

Throughout LiEat, Leo (later changing his name to Hal and Sid, none of them his real name) and Efi move from setting to setting, meeting new characters and getting mixed up in some kind of supernatural trouble that they’re forced to solve. Inevitably the police also get involved, headed up by a captain and vice-captain who know Leo and are a little wary of him for some reason. This might be because they know he’s a conman, but there’s a lot more to it than that. As the story progresses through I and II, we get hints of Leo’s past and learn his true name (Theobald Leonhart aka Theo — isn’t Leonhart Squall’s last name from FF8? Maybe a reference there?) It’s only in LiEat III that the game lets on about Theo’s broken childhood and about the burden he carries, one that only Efi can help him resolve.

There’s some deep backstory here

LiEat is a very small series of games. Each one takes just about an hour to complete. In fact, while each game has its own set of endings and doesn’t carry levels, equipment, or items over, I see these less as separate games and more as three chapters of the same game. They all have a pretty similar look and feel — all created with WolfRPG, a popular RPG creation template, but with a lot of custom sprites, character portraits, background music, and event CGs. The developer Miwashiba clearly took the time to make LiEat much more than the standard boring templaty1 RPG. The combat is very simple and no challenge at all, just standard turn-based stuff, but I think part of the appeal of LiEat is in that style that Miwashiba adds.

Not a woman you want to get involved with

Despite its short length, LiEat isn’t exactly lightweight either. The story goes to a few unexpectedly dark places. Nothing too gory or horrific, though the third part does have a little bit of the psychological horror element. No, the darkness here is more emotional. The normal ending to the last game, the first one I got, was pretty heartbreaking. I immediately had to figure out how to get the good ending, which the LiEat finale thankfully has — it’s absolutely not a given when it comes to these WolfRPG/RPGMaker games that there will be a good ending at all. And I’ve got to say that I was satisfied. The good ending wasn’t pulled out of the game’s ass just for the sake of ending on a pleasant note; it’s entirely believable and earned.

I was also satisfied with LiEat as a whole. It only cost something like $1.20 when I bought it on sale, but even at its sticker price of three dollars I’d say it’s worth going for, especially if you already know you’re into this RPGMaker-style RPG/adventure genre. It might give you some warm feelings, especially in the sort of parent-child thing that develops between Theo and Efi. And it’s me saying this, and I’m a bitter, emotionally closed-off asshole, so it should say a lot that LiEat worked for me on that level.

A scene from the third part of LiEat. I feel personally attacked.

So that’s a recommendation from me. Especially if you come across it during a sale, because even as of this writing, it costs less than a cup of coffee. But only if that coffee is from Starbucks, which you can’t visit at the moment because they’re probably all closed now because of the coronavirus. At least the one near me is. So instead of buying that overpriced, overburnt mud water2, why not buy a game like LiEat instead to pass a few hours during the international quarantine?

Since I’m not going anywhere either, I’ll continue to just dig through that backlog over the next weeks/months. Until next time, if you come across a giant egg while you’re walking along the road and discover a dragon hatching from it, I guess do the right thing and adopt it on the spot. It worked for Theo in the end, and in the best-case scenario you’ll end up in a Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid kind of situation, and who wouldn’t want that? Shit, maybe I really am just a weirdo. đ’€­

 

1 I know this isn’t a word, but it should be. Haven’t you seen a lot of games that just look like they were thrown together with a game creation tool using basic default assets? I don’t know of any better term to use to describe that sort of game. Not that they’re all bad, but there’s something to be said for setting yourself apart with a distinctive style, which is something LiEat does admirably well.

2 Their regular coffee tastes like ass. I still stand by that assessment. If you really need some gas in the tank, though, the cold brew is worth paying for. There, that’s your bonus coffee review.

Going to the backlog

This is an unexpectedly slow month for the site, partly because of personal circumstances and partly because of how the coronavirus has fucked my work situation. Luckily for me, despite all the worry over the virus, individual people and big ass corporate entities alike will continue to sue each other, so I still do have work. I’m thankful for that, but obviously conditions have changed and we’ve all had to adapt. All this also means that I haven’t had much time to play anything in the last month or so. However, I still have a fair backlog of games to get through piled up in my Steam account. A lot of us are stuck inside for an indefinite period of time, so what better time to catch up on that? Not that I was ever much for going outside anyway.

Here are some of the impressions I have of the games I’ve started. It’s not an exhaustive list, and there’s definitely no guarantee that I will get through all, most, or even any of these. Since I’m doing my best to economize and actually play the fucking games I buy during Steam sales, however, they’re the ones I’m most likely to play in the near future (aside from Persona 5 Royal, which yes, of course I have preordered. Atlus hasn’t let me down yet, except once, and those P3 and P5 dancing games were still basically decent despite the ripoff price.)

Rabi-Ribi

In what’s undoubtedly the biggest shock of the decade so far, I bought a game featuring a bunch of cute animal-eared girls. I know, really unexpected. But that’s not the only reason I got Rabi-Ribi (I won’t lie — it’s a reason, just not the only one.) This is a combination platformer/bullet hell game about Erina, a regular rabbit who mysteriously turns into a rabbit-eared/tailed human one day. So she has to figure out how and why that happened by seeking out her human owner and her other friends, and these adventures involve a lot of bullet hell-style boss fights with other girls.

If you’d say that this sounds a hell of a lot like a Touhou Project game, I would agree. Aside from the fact that it’s a platformer instead of a vertically scrolling shooter, I get strong Touhou vibes from Rabi-Ribi so far. It’s all about cute girls shooting bullets and lasers at each other in a fantasy setting, so there you go — basically a Touhou game. I’m really liking it so far, though I might end up regretting playing the game in normal mode instead of novice mode. But that would just hurt my pride too much, even if I am generally pretty lousy at games like this.

LiEat

This is a strange one — a trilogy of what look like RPGMaker games (or maybe WolfRPG; I tend to lump all these kinds of games together) bundled together for a few dollars on Steam. I like stuff like that, so I thought why not drop a few dollars on LiEat. The first game starts out with a pair of travelers: Leo, an experienced, hardened kind of guy, and Efina, a dragon girl who recently hatched from an egg and is in the process of figuring the world out. Efina can also “eat” lies somehow — when someone tells a lie, it manifests as a monster that you can fight and defeat in a turn-based battle.

I’m not too far into it yet, but LiEat is interesting so far. I like strange games like this, and it also doesn’t seem to be that much of a time investment even if it is a bundle of three games.

Yuppie Psycho

Okay, I haven’t even started Yuppie Psycho yet, but I am 99% sure I’d like it from everything I’ve seen and heard of it. So why haven’t I played it yet? I don’t know, but I’ll try to fix that soon. All I know is that it’s a horror game about Brian Pasternack, the young panicked-looking guy in the suit above, starting a new job at a big corporation. It looks like there’s a lot of weird Lovecraftian shit going on, and there’s some kind of AI/android girl in there, and the soundtrack was composed by Garoad, the same guy who made the amazing BGM for VA-11 HALL-A. This game was pretty much made for me, so I will probably get around to playing it soon.

Momodora IV: Reverie Under the Moonlight

This game has been sitting in my backlog for so long that it should have grown some mold by now. It was sitting there so long that the developer has since released a new game, Minoria, that I also haven’t played. I still intend to get around to Momodora IV sometime though. I really liked Momodora II, though part of the reason for that was its being free — but it was legitimately fun, and IV looks and plays a lot more polished. Protagonist Kaho is a shrine maiden and the ancestor of Momo from Momodora II, and she’s going on a similar kind of quest to banish some evil somewhere with a close-range fan weapon and a long-range bow. This is another game that seems to demand some dexterity and skill. It doesn’t even bother to hold your hand in the first area. I like a challenge (even if, again, I’m not great at stuff like this) so that’s fine with me. I’ll get through it eventually. Someday.

Evenicle

When I wrote in my last post that I had picked up Evenicle, I was serious. Since then, in fact, I’ve gotten all the way to the third chapter of the game, which feels like the start of the mid-game in terms of pacing. Evenicle is a turn-based RPG made by Alicesoft, and if you know Alicesoft you know what that means. If you don’t know Alicesoft, it means that this game is full of sex scenes and would probably somehow offend at least 80% of anyone taken off the street at random. Just look up the Rance series and you’ll see what I mean, but don’t do it at work.

Despite a couple of fucked but not unexpected moments (again, not unexpected if you know Alicesoft) I like Evenicle so far. The turn-based combat is pretty basic but works well, and the characters are well-written, even if a lot of the women are throwing themselves at the protagonist Aster. But that’s the whole point, anyway: you’re helping Aster build a giant polygamist household (my favorite wife so far: Riche, though I get the feeling Kathryn might steal that spot when she figures into the plot more.) And to be fair to Evenicle, it’s making Aster earn at least some of the love he gets through his being a generally good-natured guy with a ton of motivation and ability. He’s not just some bland dumbass of an RPG protagonist, in other words: he has an actual personality and some traits that make you believe people would want to be around him.

Also, the character art in Evenicle was done by Nan Yaegashi, the Senran Kagura artist, and I’m the kind of idiot who will buy a game or watch an anime series just because it features the work of an artist I like. It really is fantastic artwork, though. I still wouldn’t recommend this game to most people yet, but you probably don’t need my word on it anyway — Evenicle seems to be one of those “you probably already know if it’s for you” sorts of games just from looking at the title screen and reading the synopsis.

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So those are the games sitting at the top of my backlog list. I’m hoping that maybe this apocalypse we’re living through will at least give me the opportunity to get through some more of these games instead of being forced to go outside and actually talk to real people in real life. How about I just quarantine myself forever? Why isn’t that an option?