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  • Writer's pictureSofi

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes (2024)

Developer: Simogo

I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t posted a review in so long is because I’ve been working on the new Sleepy Toadstool website, but it’s barely been that. The truth is I’ve fallen back in the clutches of Stardew Valley; and also, being a new homeowner is an ever-ending list of projects. Anyway, I had the chance to pick up Annapurna’s new title, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes – all I knew about it was that it’s a Simogo game but very different from Sayonara Wild Hearts. I was in a puzzlin’ mood so it sounded like just the thing. I didn’t know quite what I was signing up for, but it ended up being a unique experience. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a mysterious puzzle adventure game about a woman seeking pieces of the truth in an abandoned-looking European hotel. This game is an eerie and surreal experience, standing out for its complexity and sheer amount of puzzles, to the point where the story itself is a layered series of puzzles and riddles to solve.

 

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes plops you right into its mystery without explaining who you are, where you are - only that you are searching for “the truth.” You’re parked at the outskirts of some large mansion, and you can rummage in your car to learn a few things about what you’re doing here, and look at a nearby sign to find you’re in central Europe. You can also assume that you are the titular Lorelei, but you don’t know that for a fact either. Reading the letter found in your car’s glove compartment, you find that you are meant to arrive at the Hotel Letztes Jahr and meet a man named Renzo Nero to help him on a grand “project.” Just getting into the hotel, though, will require a series of puzzles to solve and finding more letters. Once inside the strange, lonely hotel, you’ll find Renzo - but his proclivity for talking in riddles won’t help you too much at this point to figure out what’s going on, or what this “magnum opus” of his is.

This hotel looks like it would’ve been a very fancy, expensive place to visit, but now it feels haunted and abandoned.

Although I wouldn’t describe Lorelei and the Laser Eyes as a horror game, it keeps you constantly on edge and sometimes does straight up jolt you. This world’s simple black and white palette does give the appearance that it takes place in a different era, and the intrusion of red as a third color gives it a brooding feel that something isn’t quite right here. I would describe the visuals as a bit spooky, dry, and minimal - sometimes to the point where a puzzle itself can be hard to interpret, not for difficulty but for inability to see it clearly. Without giving anything away, the art style also changes for certain parts and makes references to different retro eras of gaming. The music also matches this subtly eerie atmosphere, with a few standout moments where bolder songs amplified the story.

Although red is the “only” color besides black and white, the PC interface in this game makes interesting use of it in different shades to portray something very different from the overworld.

In about the first half of the game, the more you learn, the more questions you have. Renzo Nero, the filmmaker who you meet at the hotel, is an unpredictable narrator and an artist who is consumed by his desire to create something “transcendent”. When reading about the synopsis for one of his most bizarre films, I showed my partner, who jokingly said that is the “most normal Italian film” - so I guess it falls in like with the understanding that Italian films are pretty out there. As you start to delve deeper into the hotel, you’ll find so many documents, letters, and books to read through that begin to put together a picture of what’s going on. It’s a really cool feature that this game saves all of those things to your memory, allowing you to access them wherever you are. You can definitely expect to do a lot of reading. For me, long bouts of reading in a game can make me sleepy or disinterested, but because I was searching for clues, carefully paying attention to the details, it didn’t cause that feeling. As you may expect, this game does not play around when it comes to puzzles. Sure, you’ll occasionally find a couple of easy puzzles, especially early on, that are straightforward as long as you remember some key numbers that come up a lot. However, later on I found myself often having to walk away from a hard puzzle to go explore elsewhere, hoping to find some hints along the way. There’s so much to explore that it’s fine to move past it, there’ll be plenty more to see. However, there finally came a point where I had dead ends in every direction and I had to just give up and seek help. I definitely felt the urge to figure out as much as I could on my own, which is why I am extremely grateful to the helpful people on steam who gave useful hints instead of answers in their guides. Usually, a hint was enough to set me in the right direction or at least notify me that I didn’t have all the information I needed to solve that puzzle yet.

I wasn’t expecting to learn roman numerals, Greek letters, or astrology for this game, but that was the case.

 Lorelei and the Laser Eyes plays much like a walking sim version of classic mystery games such as Nancy Drew. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but this hotel is huge, so it’s got a lot for you to explore. Basically every door you encounter has a puzzle lock, and then there’s puzzles that are attached to things like clocks, books, lock boxes, and even wall portraits. When reading about this game to decide if I wanted to play it, I saw someone to recommend not just pen and paper, but an actual notebook to take notes. Thankfully I took this to heart, because I ended up filling up nine pages of my little notebook that I took out every time I played. Usually I’m one to use my phone to jot down quick notes for a game, but doing this by hand not only was more effective for figuring things out but added a level of immersion that I really enjoyed. You can clearly see online that fans have great things to say about this game, but funny enough, there is one largely contentious gameplay choice: the developers made it so there is only one input button (aside from start/escape). All buttons do the same action - this would be a strange but acceptable choice except for the fact that there is no back button. That means that in this game where you are often scrolling through your list of documents, opening and closing them all the time, the way to get back to the game is by actually finding your way back to the “close” button. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it is unnecessarily tedious.

Writing down clues in a notebook is a lot better since often times you have to draw symbols, runes, or strange shapes.

There’s so much to say about Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, like how the developer Simogo inserts themselves into the game in a clever way (Sayonara Wild Hearts fans can get expect some fun references) and how fans of both classic horror games like Resident Evil and PC text-adventure games might find a lot to like about this game. Playing this game made me feel mentally exhausted, in a good way. After finishing I did feel like I needed to take a break and play something more chill and less brainy. I recommend Lorelei and the Laser Eyes if you're a fan of classic point-and-click mystery-solving games - this feels like the next level up for those who played a lot of Nancy Drew growing up, especially since those games had their own slight edge of semi-horror at times. It may be difficult to figure out all the puzzles completely on your own, but I can speak from experience that when you figure out a hard one it makes you feel like a genius.


Lorelei and the Laser Eyes in available on PC and Switch


Played on: PC (Steam Deck)

Last Played: 6/7/2024

Playtime: 31 hrs

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