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LISA (often subtitled as "THE PAINFUL RPG") is a side-scrolling JRPG. It has 2D sprite graphics which bear a clear influence from the Mother series' visual style. It also shares its inspiration's absurdist sense of humor, featuring outlandish characters and settings, and also a penchant for adult themes. However, LISA is much more straightforward about it, with plenty of unveiled violence and abuse.

The reason for that is its setting, a post-apocalyptic world populated with violent men and rampant drug addiction, both of which are central themes to the game. You control Brad, a survivor of the Flash, which seems to have wiped all women from the face of the earth. Brad is a depressed ex-martial artist who copes with his past failures by using a drug called Joy, a very widespread substance after the apocalypse. In combat, Joy can be used to boost Brad's stats temporarily, but with a caveat: doing so alters Brad permanently in ways impliedly negative. As the game throws many difficult fights your way, it will be up to you to decide whether to suffer such consequences in exchange for its benefits, or to toughen it out and take the path of sobriety.

Regarding violence, it is very critical of it: while Brad is one of the strongest characters in the game, his actions are often ill-considered and ignorant of others' desires, and not infrequently he will punch his way through obstacles, regardless if the violence inflicted to them is fair or not. Although, of course, he is only an exponent of a sick world ripe with murder and pillaging. Throughout LISA, very tough enemies will demand your belongings; refusal usually ends with the player dying either by plot reasons or simply because such enemies are very high-leveled. Feelings of helplessness are to be expected during its gameplay.

Combat is done in a mainly traditional JRPG manner: turn-based, featuring ailments, equipment, a party and items. Particular to LISA is a fighting game-ish combo system; you can press specific control button sequences in order to unleash special attacks. Besides Brad, you can have three other characters in your party, all of which have unique skillsets and sometimes equipment. They're all comical in nature - or rather, tragicomical, as their ridiculousness is often paired with some pitiable condition. There are 30 recruitable party members, some of them being secret (there are a few optional locations in LISA, such as an underwater city of mutated fishmen for instance). The game's locations are often hub-based, with a central location that branches to many others leading to plot-progression areas, which eventually lead to other hubs and so on.

Its actual plot is that Brad starts out as a guardian to (apparently) the last female alive, a little girl called Buddy. One day Buddy is kidnapped and it's your job as Brad to go out throughout the bizarre, broken remains of the world in order to find and protect her again. The implications of having a helpless child vulnerable to a world of violent men are horrifying, and as such LISA deals with very strong elements (it is thematically bound to its prequel, the Freeware Adventure game LISA: THE FIRST, which deals with suicide and child abuse).


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Lisa Screenshot
Lisa Screenshot
Lisa Screenshot
Lisa Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "LISA: The Painful RPG" -- Tag-lined title

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Related Web Sites

  • Lisa (official website)
Contributed to by animaldeteta (150)