Adventure Gamers Awards
Being a huge Leisure Suit Larry fan (the very first computer game I ever played was the original LSL in the Land of the Lounge Lizards back in 1988), I was skeptical about a group of young German developers (CrazyBunch) taking on such a beloved franchise without the involvement of Al Lowe and moving it to present day. After all, most of the new team wasn’t even born when the first Larry game was released! My fears were quickly put to rest when the first thing I had to do was prove I was old enough to play the game. This took me right back to LSL3 with the same style of age verification system – only this time based on current events. Although it is possible to bypass the quiz (if you know where to click), it is still a lot of fun. The questions and answers are very funny and will likely require some Google searches. This promising start left me eager to see how faithful the rest of the game would be to the spirit of Sierra’s classic series. And to my relief, it is not only a worthy successor, but an entertaining and surprisingly substantial point-and-click adventure in its own right.
Gameplay starts in a dark underground chamber with a calendar showing the year 1987. You think Larry is waking up after a one-night stand (how Larry!), but after some exploration you realize you are in a strange room. With a bit of object interaction you get a lift working that takes you to street level in front of Lefty’s Bar. Things look strangely different, and as you make your way into the bar and talk to Lefty, who recognizes you from the “old days,” you realize you have somehow been transported to the year 2018. (How is explained later on).
This premise forms the basis of the game, as Larry needs to reconcile his 1980s sensibilities with 2018 culture and technology. The developers have done a great job with this plot device, and you will experience elements both past and present as you progress. For example, the pixelated picture of the beautiful woman still hangs over the bar, and there are several cinematics and situations rendered in glorious 8-bit graphics (including death scenes – yes you can die!).
You will soon find yourself in the bathroom (where else?) and discover a PiPhone that will lead you to the company’s HQ. To return the device you need to book a Uunter ride, which will be your main form of transportation around the city of New Lost Wages. Once you get to Prune Inc. (which looks like a giant penis complete with a spurting fountain on the roof), you will meet Faith Less, the hottest woman in the game and assistant to BJ Prune, the head of the corporation. Larry learns that Faith does not date anyone without a minimum score of 90 on the Timber app, and his lust for her means he must go on other dates first and get each of them to give him the highest possible score.
This objective represents the bulk of the game and will lead you to all kinds of interesting obstacles and encounters. There are many locations to visit and tasks to accomplish to win over the various babes and complete major goals. But things can get a little…complicated. There are many puzzles to solve, almost all of which are inventory-based. And there are a LOT of items to collect. Many have an erotic tone, in true Larry style, and include sexual connotations (XL Condom, Plug-like chess piece, Cheese Flavored Dildo, etc.), which adds to the humor and nostalgia for original series players.
Some necessary objects are very small and well-hidden, so you need to scan every scene carefully to make sure you don’t miss anything, though a hotspot highlighter can be activated by the space bar to help. Compounding matters further, new items appear at previously visited locations after completing certain tasks, so there is a fair bit of backtracking needed. Items can be combined easily by simply dragging one onto another, but the sheer volume of them precludes the brute force method of trying everything with everything else. You need to pay special attention to item descriptions (by right-clicking on them in inventory) to figure out how to use them. The clues are there – you just need to properly interpret them to progress.
There are many spoofs on current technology: you will use Timber as your dating app, Instacrap to capture your experiences, and PrunePal to pay for your purchases. Needless to say, Larry is baffled by these apps and has very humorous interactions with them. In particular, Instacrap is used to record your romantic encounters and other events. There are 20 slots that get unlocked as you progress and are presented as a series of GIFs. These are very funny (especially the Screwnicorn) and are quite different from earlier Larry games that used standard cut scenes. Traditional cinematics are still present to advance the story here, but I found the mobile videos to be a fresh approach.
After you complete each date, you will be notified that there are new connections on Timber to review. The contacts are very funny, and in true LSL style. For example: “Anita Dickinme, 31 – Subtlety is not my middle name; Maxime Paine, 25 – I like it hard!; Sara Soft, 21 – Raid my Tomb.” You get the idea. Another departure from some of the earlier Larry games is the lack of narration, which added a lot of off-color humor. This has been replaced with equally off-color descriptions of inventory items, Larry’s surroundings and dialog choices. The result is the same: lots of chuckles at the jokes.
At first the interface is very basic, with a slide-up notepad containing home (menu) and inventory icons at the bottom right of the screen, but once you get the PiPhone, this converts to a smartphone with access to the various apps available. You left-click to move Larry around and interact with items and right-click for a description. To travel greater distances you can double-click to immediately move to locations within your Uunter stop.
A manual save game system is used to keep track of your progress. You are limited to 12 slots and due to the length of the game you will probably need to overwrite them at least once. Each slot includes the date and time of the save as well as your current Timber score. When you place your cursor over a slot, both the Load and Save options appear. There is no warning if you try to overwrite a saved game so you need to be careful. You are warned if you try to load a saved game that you will lose any progress you have made, which is useful since a few times I accidentally hit the load option when I meant to save. Death doesn’t depend on your saves, fortunately, so if you happen to die, you will get a humorous graphic and message (like in earlier games) and be returned to the moment you made your mistake.Continued on the next page...