One of my biggest worries for the future of the medium is how people will find, uncover, and catalog the thousands of games that come out each and every year. Especially with Steam opening the floodgates for any small time developer with a Unity license and a nifty idea. The problem gets worse when you consider how many games are not made for a specific language, namely the scrappy little mutt that is English. But somehow small freeware titles like LiEat can still be picked up and sold by the folks at Playism.
LiEat is a trilogy of short, sixty to ninety minute titles that center around the exploits of a shady con man and what can best be described as his unwanted daughter, Efina. A dragon in the loosest sense of the term, who can manifest lies into cute little monsters and eat them, hence the title. From that grounded starting point, there really is not much of an ongoing story thruought these three games. Efina and the con man of many names go to a new town, encounter some sort of mystery, deal with a pair of police captains, and battled against a person consumed by their own lies.
It’s more comparable to three entries from a series of short stories, each with their own characters, character development, and possibly intentional lesson about not being a victim of your own hubris. All of which is rather well told, with a good deal of drama, humor, and creativity sprinkled in. But aside from the third installment, there is not much of a greater narrative in place.
In the end, nothing much is achieved, and none of the problems facing the lives of the two vagabond main characters are ever addressed. Part of me wants to interpret it as a sort of stylistic thing, possibly relating or channeling a genre or style of work that I am unfamiliar with, but it ultimately results in LiEat feeling a little underwhelming, in spite of its more charming elements. In the moment, it can very much be an enjoyable game, but with regards to a greater narrative, I guess you could say that I am not really sure if I “get” this game.Seeing as how LiEat is a game created in a simple RPG engine, it is not surprising that turn based combat is utilized as a means of combating the various lies that are encountered during Efina’s journey, but it comes off as something of an afterthought. Your commands and actions are simple, you get oodles of healing items, a readily accessible bed to rest in, and a series of fairly easy to find legendary weapons that neuter whatever challenge was intended. It does what it needs to in order to advance the story and liven up the pacing, but that’s about all.
Far more effort was made in the game’s visual front. While the maps are minimal all things considered, a lot of attention was placed into making each area feel distinct. Thanks to a well done color scheme of often neglected deep violets, brownish pinks, and light blues, LiEat has a compelling atmosphere to the world, one that is alleviated by a quality and often melancholic soundtrack that helps bring the world to life. However, and I never thought I’d say this, for as much as I like the overall art direction, I found the sprite work to be irritating at times.
Now, I love sprite art, I was deeply into sprite comics through my middle school years and regularly checked out sprite repositories to stare at and examine them pixel by pixel. Here, I struggle to comprehend what exactly I’m looking at when I see character sprites or even portraits, and pixel space is so scarce that there is not enough room to display numbers in a legible manner. The handful of animated scenes in this game show how talented the developer is, and it’s a shame such talent did not translate into a medium that, like just about any artistic medium, is far harder to do properly than one would assume.To summarize this description of a game that is interlaced with criticism, LiEat is a cute, somewhat interesting, and overall good little story driven game, just one that I struggle to manifest any strong feelings for. It is a pleasing story that I enjoyed by a notable amount, not so much that I would mourn its loss to obscurity beyond the few thousand people who already bought it. I wish I were singing its praises, but not every small time developer can be a brilliant little bird.