Author Topic: Lorelei and the Laser Eyes (Switch) Review  (Read 550 times)

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Offline whilhorst

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Lorelei and the Laser Eyes (Switch) Review
« on: May 27, 2024, 05:11:00 AM »

You can check out any time you like, but you will never truly leave this hotel.

I can tell you right now. If you have seen or read anything on Lorelei and the Laser Eyes that even remotely intrigues you, that is all you need to know if you want to pick up this game. I am dead serious that going blindly into Lorelei and the Laser Eyes has been one of the most profound gaming experiences I've had in the last five years. This review will not reveal puzzle solutions or spoil what is actually going on in Lorelei, but I will need to talk somewhat about the structure and genres that Lorelei plays in. This game is truly best experienced without prior knowledge, so leave this place while you still can. If you're still here, then let me address you directly. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a masterpiece in puzzle, horror and game-design. It is the culmination of all the years that Simogo has been making interactive art, and without a doubt their crowning achievement.

You play as a woman who arrives at a hotel in a European wood. Why she is there is pretty unclear, but you've received a strange letter from someone who wishes to meet you here. As you explore the rooms of the hotel, strange things start happening. Small stuff at first, like a sense that you're being watched, but slowly the feeling seeps in, that this hotel is definitely out of the ordinary. Rooms with strange statues, locked doors with unusual keys and computers with an eerie red glow. What is going on, why are you here and who are these figures with mazes for a face that come chasing you out of the walls?

Gameplay wise, the best way to describe Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a combination between the original Resident Evil, with its locks and keys level-design, blended with titles such as Rusty Lake’s The Past Within or The Room Escape series games. From the word go, the game actively encourages you to keep track of puzzles and strange clues with pen and paper. At first I thought this to be a cute wink from the developers, but as I discovered more and more puzzles in the game I was shocked by how important my little notebook had become. Scribbles I'd made in the 3rd hour suddenly became massively important as I made connections between all the different locations of the hotel. Puzzles tend to range from alphanumeric codes, to dialing specific telephone numbers to noticing objects in the background. A sliding door here, a padlock there and some hidden mechanisms make the hotel even after 10 hours refreshing to explore.

But it is its combination with the unsettling visual design of the game that makes Lorelei leave a haunting impression. From the reflection of the rooms shimmering across the floor, to notes and cryptic messages being directed at not just the player character but the player themselves as well. The absolute highlight is when the game flips itself on its head and transports you to a whole other game entirely. These segments are magnificently crafted, leaving you with a sense of dread and being on edge. Some of these left me with actual goosebumps, whether purposely submitting puzzle solutions or running into the solutions by accident. Whenever I found a new cipher or had my “AHA!” moment, the game managed to unfold another layer to its world, story, characters, and even gameplay. Enhanced by its atmospheric sound design. The sound of your footsteps echoing across the hallways, the slow fading in of songs that play on record players, and the sheer terror whenever an anomaly begins to show its face, or even lack thereof. It hits the nail on the head every single time and I have been absorbed, transformed even by the way the game plays with both time, space and its relation to the player.

At its core you will be connecting dots, understanding a wide range of clues and applying what you have learned throughout the game. Most impressive is that the game itself is largely conveyed through text and visuals, reveling in its desire to leave you as much in the dark as possible. This means that from a playing perspective, most of the solving of puzzles will be done in your head. I am fairly certain that some sharp players will instantly understand some of the more elaborate puzzles, and I found some of them to be incredibly hard to solve. But once that moment clicks, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes ascends to the rare level of games like Tunic and Immortality, where the game takes place mostly inside your own mind. It is astonishing how well this design philosophy is applied, because at every turn, once you figured out the solution to a puzzle, it is so incredibly obvious that you had not realized it before.

That is not to say that the entire experience is without its small hiccups. For one is the controls and the UI. The game only uses directional inputs and a single button to confirm an interaction. From a design perspective this makes the game incredibly straightforward. It is not like that infamous puzzle in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass where you need to close the DS system in order to proceed. All the solutions are always relying on the same type of inputs. That does mean that navigating menus and interacting with the world also uses the same single button and directional input as well. Again, this compliments the overall design and leaves little room for confusion for the player, but this also means that you have to manually go to the ‘exit menu’ buttons and that there are no shortcuts that you may be accustomed to. Even when playing in handheld mode, the touch screen can not be used for easy access. It makes certain moments frustrating, such as navigating to a particular memory or mental note you might want to brush up on when attempting to solve a puzzle. It took me a good few hours to get accustomed to it. Additionally, while the game keeps several logs, mental notes and directions I had gotten lost quite a few times on my journey through Hotel Letztes Jahr. There are no clear aids or directions that are able to help you out when stuck and I am afraid for those who are resorting to a guide to reach the finish line. The solutions are always there, but because certain dots are connected in a slightly more obtuse way, a few more concrete methods of asking assistance would’ve been welcome.

Even so, all these complaints did not deter me from playing as much of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes as possible. In my near twenty hours playing the game I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is one of the most expertly crafted mazes I have ever seen. I experienced shock, awe, goosebumps and have been truly engrossed nearly every minute of the experience. The unique blend of puzzle game, escape room and psychological horror was something I wasn’t quite ready for. For Simogo to follow up their colorful and playful games with something so starkly different is impressive. How well they have managed to craft together this experience is no less than masters at work. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is every Zelda Dungeon, Resident Evil Mansion and Escape Room honed to its finest edge and plays with the player as much as the player plays the game. In a year already stacked with impressive indie games, this will be the one that is going to haunt me for years to come. I could not be more excited about seeing others experience it for themselves.

Offline M.K.Ultra

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Re: Lorelei and the Laser Eyes (Switch) Review
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2024, 09:59:10 AM »
Read first paragraph, stopped reading, wishlisted. Thanks!

Offline Lemonade

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Re: Lorelei and the Laser Eyes (Switch) Review
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2024, 07:39:31 PM »
I bought it and played some of it. I think the game is extremely cool and I love that it exists. But the puzzles are too much for me. I feel like Im too dumb for this game. I gave up after 6 hours and 28% progress.