Review: The story of the lair that should be stuck as a sim keeper

Between its art style, text and controls, The story of Lair Land feels like a game taken back from a time capsule in the late 2000s. That makes sense, since it’s a remake of a game that was originally released in 2007. It’s weird. strange in a way reminiscent of watching historical cartoons. Unfortunately, like watching old anime or playing classic games, this PC port has the same kind of problems associated with interacting with old vehicles. These range from audio problems (people sound muffled) to more emotional text and narration collisions. Things that later rarely raise an eyebrow are simply not worth standing up to today.

The setting The story of Lair Land very simple. You play as Herod, a Baron who rescues a mysterious girl with amnesia named Chilia. She doesn’t remember anything, so it’s your duty to teach her how to be a productive and useful member of society. The story doesn’t really say that explicitly, but you do get a time limit of four years in the game. You can ask Chilia to study, work and help in rebuilding the city (which was destroyed during the war). These will boost various parameters, such as her charisma or humanity. Each turn, you can do things like conduct research or go out, as well as set Chilia’s schedule for the week. In other words, it’s an “advanced game” in the classic mold.

Each season, you have a goal that you must achieve. These goals tend to focus on a specific stat, but it can also be the number of cities you repair. It’s pretty straightforward to meet them as long as the game doesn’t throw you any unexpected story scenes. I pushed Chilia pretty hard and she never got sick or died. But when she’s so tired that she can’t walk to raise her stress, that’s when I waste a little time helping her get back to normal.

‘Stress’ in this game refers to motivation or energy, and it is wasei eigo that can be confusing for first time players and should have been localized to something more natural to English speakers. It took me a while to realize the meaning of the game. The higher the tension, the better. I thought stress meant stress, and kept it low until Chilia continued to skip work. There are other minor glitches in the localization, such as typos and other inconsistencies. Formatting oddities also persist, like problems with text indentation, but these pale in comparison to the larger story.

The story of Lair LandIts plot is out of focus. There are about four ongoing stories it wants to weave:

  1. Chilean Education
  2. Herod and Chilia’s relationship with their (potential) love preferences
  3. Chilia’s True Identity
  4. A plot involving princes, princesses and dukes

It’s a lot! But since the game’s core is an enhanced game rather than a visual novel, the TV series overall didn’t get much attention before returning to Chilia’s everyday stage. In fact, the downsides of the conspiracy or Chilia’s missing memories appear almost like stimulants. In the end, they just distracted me because they wanted to arrange Chilia’s schedule for the day. “Girl, don’t talk to that suspicious dark mage!” I want to say, “Today you must go to be a church deacon!”

I also find that stories are difficult to become emotionally invested in. There were so many legends that it was overwhelming. I also feel like I’ve missed half the story with them suddenly, for lack of a nicer term, spewing nonsense. It’s hard to care about Chilia’s mysterious past, especially when it’s not at the heart of the game. She never talks about it, so it’s also easy to forget. I want to know more about Duma, Grana and Fay – characters that you can meet and interact with. The game gives you the chance to hang out where you can visit various places in town. Depending on what time you go, you may be able to see one of these characters and talk to them.

Unfortunately, you can only go to three places per outing (two during winter). And, disappointingly, there is no notification if the character is there or not. I basically just have a new place to go every outing. Every turn, I will waste one on the castle wall (for Grana) and one on the church (for Fay). More than half the time (about 90%), they won’t even be there. According to one guide, the game takes about ten hours to beat. But it takes more than 400 hours if you are a finisher. Those 400 hours might just be on Russian Roulette hanging out, because if you don’t meet these characters on specific days in specific locations, you’re missing out on the opportunity to continue in their storyline.

(Actually, most of the endings seem to be work-focused. For example, there’s an ending where Chilia becomes a historian. This is also the ending I got in my first level. I can understand because I raised the Intelligence related stats a lot. So boosting different stats or maxing out different jobs will also contribute to those 400 hours.)

While there is a simple and undeniable joy in the simple act of raising the bar and figuring out the best way to schedule Chilia time, The story of Lair Land has not aged gracefully. The combination of enhanced simulation and visual novels works in theory, but not in practice due to the story being so lame and lousy, and the lack of emotional rhythm to keep the player hooked. Individuals have two delicious flavors found in this game, but their combination is less than their sum.

Lair Land Story available on PSP, Nintendo Switchand Windows PC.

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