This 3 games in 1 package offering is a convenient way to play this short series, but it doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity by connecting them together. Each game is wholly separate from the others, which makes the light RPG mechanics even less developed than expected for a short game.
Release date: 26 Feb, 2016
For whatever reason, whenever I notice LiEat (LE) in my library, I always think it’s a free game, though that’s not the case. However, it did originate as a freeware game before being ported and sold on Steam, so I guess I’m not way off the mark. I picked it up in a Humble Bundle deal back in early 2018, and never got around to it. It’s a game I didn’t know much about, but it’s got thousands of positive reviews in spite of being a short experience. Since LE is both quite short and an RPG, I’m curious how the gameplay works, as it might be revered more for its story.
An important aspect to know about LE is that not only is it in reality 3 freeware games bundled together, but even as you play them in order, nothing you obtain from before will carry over: levels, equipment, or items. For me, this somewhat undermines the point in playing a series of games like this, particularly with RPG mechanics. Across each game, the gameplay is mostly the same. You’ll speak with NPCs, acquiring information, and at times having to speak to them in a specific order. As you do so, lies you can fight will appear, and you’ll earn XP and money from beating them. That’s about all there is to the gameplay. There’s somewhat of a boss for each game, but as long as you don’t purposely avoid fights, you’ll beat each of them without issue.
In this game, you’re able to control it with either the keyboard or a controller, though there isn’t a way to remap the controls. All the actions you use are completed with only a few buttons, so it’s not too much of an issue. Movement is controlled with either the ‘L joystick’ or ‘D-pad,’ and you open up the menu with the ‘B button.’ To interact with objects in the environment and navigating menus, you’ll use ‘A.’
With each game lasting between 1-2 hours, I don’t want to erode the point in playing for yourself by spoiling the ending on each one. So I’ll do my best to summarize them and distinguish one from the other. Across LE, you switch between the perspective of Leo and Efi, a stern male with lying-itis and an airhead female dragon that eats lies. Leo serves as her guardian and instructor, traveling with no intent of settling down, as he peddles information. Unlike similar games where the protagonist is selfish and rude, it’s not within his job duties to help anybody else, so it’s less clear why he steps in. I’m not sure if he just so happens to help out others while achieving his own goals, or if some altruistic behavior helps ease any feelings of guilt he might carry.
In LE1, you’ll come across some contacts you know in a ghost town, with only a brother and sister remaining. There’s concern of a vampire lurking around, which is brought to a head when someone is murdered in the dead of night. As the protagonists snoop around, you’ll deduce whether there’s a vampire at all, and the identity of the killer. LE2 is more complicated, as it basically has two separate plot lines going at the same time, with one overshadowing and muddling the other. While residing at a resort, Leo and Efi stumble across an employee who’s strung up and strangled, yet reports having no memory of what happened. No one else has been attacked like this, but many people are forgetting things at the resort, so you’ll have to determine what’s going on and why. Assuming you don’t forget to. The last section opens with more flashbacks into Leo’s past, showing his troubled youth. However, the central crime only deals with an antique being targeted for theft, so it seems like the stakes are lower, until coincidence shows that its much more personal than expected.
There’s basically 3 visual styles of characters in LE: in-game sprites, drawn avatars to show who’s talking, and occasionally a full-screen picture for special events. Looking at the backgrounds and how the game world is composed, I’d believe those who mention in their reviews that these games were made in an RPG maker program, as it has that general aesthetic to it. For instance, how the floor looks to be made of square tiles. The drawn images have some variety in posture and facial expression, which helps show emotion as you read the dialogue. What the larger, drawn pictures offer is an opportunity to get a clearer sense of what the characters look like. However, there’s not very many of them, and from what I remember, not every character gets an image like this, even if they’re an important NPC.
One main issue with the game’s visuals is that I have no sense of scale for the characters. It’s implied that the dragons are quite large, which portrays how much power they have, but except for fleeting fully drawn images of the characters, they all look to be within a few inches of each other. Proportions between the character sprites and background objects also look skewed, as the people look too short. Another issue is how much of an outlier the first game is. With its more somber and dramatic subject matter, the game’s visuals were dark due to all the blacks, deep browns, and reds used, which reinforced a tone to the game that was quite serious. There was contrast from comedic interactions between Efi and others, but she was clearly impacted by the death of someone that was nice to her. Plus, after the murder happened, there was less joking around. The next two games use considerably brighter colors and deal with much less grim matters, which is a bit jarring and doesn’t feel as impactful or important.
I like the composition of LE’s soundtrack, as there’s enough songs and variety to support your brief playthroughs of each game. They also have decent atmosphere, helping build the tone and mood of significant events and character interactions. There’s not a lot of sound effects, and I find the noise made in battle rather comical, as it sounds like someone being slapped across the face. The music is far more important, so it’s not a big negative if the sound effects could have been more impactful.
- This was only relevant in the last game, but it included the need to get evidence to determine which person was lying, instead of the lies appearing automatically. There was also the need to use the abilities of NPCs to get past a room you couldn’t on your own. Too bad such efforts weren’t made in the earlier titles.
- I enjoyed the dialogue that pertained to Efi, because she comes across as a very sweet and innocent character, with NPCs treating her in a way that’s pleasant.
- The rules and mechanisms of the world are inconsistent and unclear. For instance, how Efi’s abilities worked. Even when she’s not around, lies people tell will manifest into monsters, which other people can’t damage. It’s unclear how long they’d linger for or how old a lie can be before it wouldn’t become a monster. However, she supposedly has to be able to determine what someone said is a lie before this occurs, when that’s obviously not the case multiple times. Plus, the reason for her eating lies seems to pertain to a metaphor about how lying too much consumes you.
- All things considered, the story of LE is pointless. Leo’s main desire and regret centered around a lie he told his siblings in order to protect them, which seemed really obvious even without relying on knowledge of tropes. However, he quite likes his job of conning people so he’ll continue on with it, and he still refuses to be honest with Efi on how he feels about her. Plus, with each game, the stakes decreased. In the first, someone is murdered, the second involves physical assault, while it ends with basic theft. This only worsens the mismatched tone of the games.
- The RPG elements are scarce. You have nothing to spend money on, never get accessories even though you have inventory slots for them, and almost always fight only 1 enemy at a time. There’s rarely a need for doing anything other than mashing attack.
- The RPG aspects are very easy, so you shouldn’t have much problems here. It’s still helpful to fight each monster you can, because if nothing else, being high level makes the boss battles faster. Don’t forget to equip weapons you get though, with names like Liar and Donut.
- There isn’t an auto save feature, so you’ll want to save every so often. In the 3rd game, save when you take control of Leo while he’s covered in goop walking down a long hallway. This is where the 3 possible endings center around.
- Hit F10 to make the games full screen. If you quit before beating it, hit F10 again to exit out.
I can’t really say that LE impressed me as much as I had hoped it would. There’s just enough gameplay to give the story some action, but I don’t think RPG mechanics were the best choice because it’s so easy that it’s mindless. Especially since nothing carries over from game to game, which could have given a bit of depth or purpose behind it. If you find yourself interested in LE in spite of my take on it, I’d suggest finding the freeware versions and giving one or two of them a try. They’re short and if you wanted to support the maker after playing them, you could buy the game on Steam. From some of the negative reviews shown, it was made in a program that’s very easy to use, so it might depend on how much you’d want to reward what may be a minor amount of effort. Overall though, I’d suggest skipping the game because the overarching story just isn’t that good or cohesive.