Review for Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry
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.
Graphically the game uses colorful hi-resolution hand-drawn backgrounds that are full of details with stylized items and animations. Many locations show grunge and decay (especially Lefty’s) and often have suggestive items (like the Leisure Suite with all kinds of kinky objects) and names like Pier69 and Quicki-Mart. There is no nudity (unless you count statues and blow-up dolls) but that does not mean Wet Dreams Don’t Dry isn’t raunchy, as sexual innuendo is everywhere and often isn’t particularly subtle. The Instacrap captures stand out in this regard with some pretty racy scenes, though there is nothing vulgar.
Character models are equally cartoonish and nicely varied. For those familiar with the early Larry games (in particular 6 and 7), Larry is still wearing his signature white leisure suit and gold chain but he is not as dorky looking. He is taller now, and a bit thinner with more hair. He is still a loser, of course, but looks (a little) less so. If you stand around too long Larry may strike a pose, use breath freshener or perform some other amusing action. Again a nice touch, and in keeping with previous installments.
You will visit many locations throughout your adventure, including the New Lost Wages Strip (with its sex shop, Mini Mart, gym and Salon du Lezard), Pier69 (with wedding chapel and casino) and finally Cancum (not a typo) late in the game. The upper room at Lefty’s in particular has a lot of references to the original Larry game – the bed in particular – and these little references really endear you to the legacy of the franchise. There are a number of non-LSL Easter Eggs as well, such as King Graham in the underground lab and Purple Tentacle in the Leisure Suite. You can even see a silhouette of the Sierra logo in one scene.
The voice acting is solid with one exception, but that is a minor character with not a lot of dialog. Jan Rabson once again voices Larry and is as sharp and funny as ever. Although the original theme music is not here (I assume due to copyright issues), a suitably catchy tune is used for the main menu. Each place you visit also has appropriate looping background music. For example, a mariachi tune plays when you visit Cancum, while a romantic piece accompanies Larry’s date with Erin. There are also great sound effects, such as a zipper opening when you continue from the main menu and sensuous moans in the background. These, too, are very much in the vein of the original series.
The characters you meet along the way are as varied as they are funny. Lefty is a bit older but still wise and provides useful information; a pair of nerds at Prune Inc. are very helpful as long as you give them their nerdy items (like the Sleaze Wars Figurine with removable bra); and Dick Ryder wants Larry to arrange his same-sex wedding to Lance. There are others as well: Erin is an online video performer, Lemma Tallica is a rock star, Tuck is a drag queen you meet in prison, and Cebe is a bouncer you encounter at Hell’s Pawn (just outside the local police station). All these folks are engaging and fun to interact with and are reminiscent of previous series characters.
Since the last “true” Larry game (Love for Sail) was released in 1996, a lot has changed in society with regards to the way men and women interact. While Larry still has 1980s-era views towards the women he objectifies, and is hoping to score with each of his dates, in all cases sex is consensual, and as always the women have far more power than the protagonist. While it would not be a Larry game without his constant hitting on female characters, the developers recognize the difference in modern attitudes and address it in a very topical and funny way.
At one point you find yourself in the Oval Office (depicted in great retro-styled graphics with MIDI music in the background), where the president (a blatant riff on Trump) is honouring Larry for his services in educating the American youth. A young boy named Bill is there and tells Larry his adventures have taught him a lot about how to behave. When Larry is asked to explain to Bill how to speak to a woman, where to touch a woman first, and finally where women belong, in each case the choices are blatantly sexist but no matter what you pick, Larry’s real answer is very respectful. Larry doesn’t understand what has happened to him, but young Bill takes this advice to heart. The president, of course, is obviously pissed off and goes off on a tangent – very funny! Clearly Larry has adopted the 21st century values of gender equality and decency, whether he wants to or not.
You can expect between 15-20 hours of gameplay due to the many conversations, puzzles and backtracking required to solve them. If you pay particular attention to the tasks at hand you can reduce the amount of travel, but expect to still do a lot of toing and froing. Although the experience is fairly linear, some objectives can be worked on simultaneously to save time. In fact, there are so many goals that need to be completed, a system to keep track of them would have been welcome, especially since there’s no hint system either. Adding a to-do list of some kind as a new app in the PiPhone display would be very simple.
Whether you’re a fan of the franchise concerned about the newer games damaging its legacy, or a series newcomer wondering what all the fuss is about, Wet Dreams Don’t Dry is a great game. It’s not quite as user-friendly as it could be, but not only does it faithfully represent Sierra’s first six Leisure Suit Larry games, it is a fun, beautiful point-and-click adventure with plenty of laughs on its own. There is a twist at the end that I did not see coming and sets up the series for a sequel. If that happens, I can hardly wait.