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There’s nothing quite like a good puzzle game, especially when the brain teasers are wrapped up in an alluring mystery. That’s been the hallmark for plenty of greats over the years, with titles like Myst, The Witness, and FEZ standing the test of time due to their ingenious riddles and mystifying backdrops. While I haven’t quite wrapped up every little bit of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes yet, I can confidently say it very much deserves to stand alongside those titans of the genre.

When I play a game like Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, I can’t help but wonder how it all came together. Any one area of the experience seems like it would take an impossible amount of time to craft, yet somehow a team of people has come together to release something not just magical, but cohesive as well. Every aspect of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes has had a painstaking amount of detail and attention poured into it, and the fact that something so intricate and labored over exists is a testament to not only the game industry itself, but what a group of dedicated, passionate developers can do if given the time and resources.

The best part of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is the fact that it’s going to keep you guessing for the entire journey, and that’s not even related to the puzzles. While you may be able to glean details of what’s going on here, most of the time you’re trying to parse the incredibly perplexing story. Sure, it can be easy to make something confusing, but that’s not the case at all when a very direct, impactful story is the endgame. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes aligns itself with works like Twin Peaks and Neon Genesis Evangelion; creations that are multi-layered and tough to crack, but with a clear, concise story/lesson that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Hell of a staring contest
Hell of a staring contest

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes drops you right into a state of confusion when taking on the role of a woman called to a hotel by a mysterious man. You start the game off just outside the hotel with little idea why you’re there or what this odd man has laid out for you. The goal is disorientation from the get-go, and it’s up to you to wade through unfamiliar surroundings to answer your many questions. Why are you at the hotel? Who is the main behind this all? Why are you the linchpin to his entire project? With enough time, smarts and patience, you might be able to unlock the answers to those queries and more.

In order to get any understanding of what’s going on in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, you’ll need some serious puzzle-solving skills. Every single room in this hotel and the surrounding areas is loaded to the brim with head-scratchers that bewilder. You’ll see so many things that you simply won’t understand, but you know they’re part of a solution down the road. The key difference between Lorelei and the Laser Eyes and some other big-name puzzle games is that these puzzles have solutions that always make sense. For example, Myst is an astounding game and an incredible achievement, but it has a few puzzle solutions that feel like too far of a stretch rather than sensible. That happened a lot with older puzzle/adventure games, especially on the PC. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is very much the opposite, with puzzles pushing your mind to its limits and forcing you to think outside of the box, but the answers not only make sense, but feel supremely satisfying to uncover. Just don’t expect to crack them instantly.

Thankfully, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes has learned other things from the mistakes of past puzzle games, as it adds in one major quality of life feature that makes the experience ten times better. The main character happens to have a photographic memory, which means that any little clue or puzzle piece you happen upon along the way can be recalled at an instant. Want to know what that one sign said downstairs? Can’t recall that phone number you wanted to ring up? Just open the game’s menu and visit the photographic memory section to see a complete list of everything you’ve encountered. Posters you mulled over, books you read, pictures you saw, it’s all waiting for you at the press of a button.

Dinner and a show
Dinner and a show

Having easy access to your clues at any time takes away the frustration found in many early puzzle games and instead puts the focus back on finding solutions. You might have to walk around the hotel to find the lock that needs a combination or door that needs a key, but eliminating the need to retrace steps for another look at a hint streamlines the process greatly. It’s surprising that it’s taken this long for a puzzle adventure to come up with an elegant solution to backtracking, but playing Lorelei and the Laser Eyes will no doubt make it harder to both go back to those classics or spend time with any newcomers that don’t offer the same option.

While it’s fantastic to have access to all of that data in order to crack puzzles, don’t expect the solutions to come to you easily. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is going to make you think in ways you didn’t even know possible. Just the sight of some of the puzzles here filled me with dread, but in a good way, as it’s nice to get a game that isn’t afraid to test your intelligence and puzzle-solving skills. This kind of experience obviously isn’t going to be for everyone, but for the masochists out there who love to melt their minds for the dopamine hit of a puzzle solved, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is about as good as it gets.

Developer Simogo wasn’t lying about their suggestion to play Lorelei and the Laser Eyes with some paper and a pencil nearby. The game was made for one-handed play on purpose, and it’s because you’ll most likely be jotting down all sorts of tidbits with your free hand as you work your way through the adventure. There are multiple puzzles that had me taking notes on my iPhone that ended up looking like the scribblings of a madman. The need to doodle, transcribe, rotate, and so much more presents itself very early on, and trying to do it all in your head is basically impossible. Without a doubt, playing Lorelei and the Laser Eyes with something for note-taking nearby will make your sessions infinitely better. You can even go the extra step and play the game in tabletop mode, which lets you prop up your Switch in front of you and then easily turn to your pen and paper on the side. Honestly, that might be the optimal way to play, especially if you end up taking as many notes as I did!

I could really use one of those mall directories right now...
I could really use one of those mall directories right now...

The personality and mystery of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes’ puzzles also oozes into the rest of the game, with everything from the presentation to music feeling like a character in and of itself. I know that can be a bit cliché to say, but sitting down with Lorelei and the Laser Eyes for 15 minutes makes that fact abundantly clear. This game has an incredible amount of style that builds a rich atmosphere, enveloping the player. Again, in the same vein as Twin Peaks, I can’t think of the last time I played a game that was so strong in its identity. The black-and-white environments with splashes of red, the creepy-yet-soothing audio, the macabre vibe that permeates every area of the hotel…this game almost feels like it’s alive. It’s both a joy and a horror to explore; a place you never want to leave but can’t wait to get out of.

To further detail the story, characters and goals of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes would be to rob everyone of a major part of the journey. There will no doubt be players who rush to the internet to read a FAQ on puzzle solutions, but those just looking for those answers are missing the real aim of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. The biggest puzzle here is figuring out what exactly is going on in this hotel, and that’s not something you’re going to get a clear-cut answer on. You’ll have plenty of puzzle pieces to work with, but they fit together in multiple ways. The picture you get at the end might look wildly different from someone else’s, and that’s the beauty of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. This is a game you’ll be able to talk about with friends for years to come, as there are so many elements that can be seen in a billion different ways.

There are sure to be some who find Lorelei and the Laser Eyes to be too obtuse, and that’s okay. This is a puzzle game for a very specific audience, and chances are you already know if you fit into that group. If you happen to be interested in this kind of dense, confusing mystery, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes could end up being one of your favorite games in quite some time. It has everything needed to be considered a modern classic of the genre, and it’s going to be a work explored, debated and praised for years to come. If Sayonara Wild Hearts was Simogo’s breakthrough hit, consider Lorelei and the Laser Eyes their magnum opus.

About rawmeatcowboy

rawmeatcowboy

GoNintendo's founder, and bearded wonder. Although his beard is a little greyer nowadays, RMC is more than ready to tackle news and features. When not playing/talking/writing about games, RMC enjoys comic books, pro wrestling, anime, and more.

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