Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

A trilogy of horror quests from Harvester Games (Downfall, The Cat Lady, now Lorelai) is as if Andrey Zvyagintsev’s films, where depression, everyday darkness and general darkness are intertwined with mysticism, were filmed in the language of video clips by Marilyn Manson (Marilyn Manson; speech primarily about Sweet Dreams). Unless Lorelai has less hard rock and more Evanescence. It turns out just as crazy, scary, depressing, stylish and generally very cool. These games have already received cult status, and their author, Remigiusz Michalski, is now considered an artist who creates real art – albeit in places very uncomfortable. And yet, for all the similarities of the three projects, Lorelai differs from the rest in many ways.

About freaks and people

The trilogy is set in Michalski’s Devil Came Through Here universe. The first in 2009 was Downfall: A Horror Adventure Game, which was primarily remembered for the abundance of creepy, bloody scenes. There were so many of them, and everything pulsed with such a crazy nightmare that some – I know this personally – were even sick of what they saw.

The picture was stylish, but somehow dirty, untidy. Combined with the weak technical performance, this would leave the game at the level of niche indie trash, if not for the chic soundtrack and in a good way insane, complex plot. The story told about how the main character, who is on the verge of a divorce from his wife, stays with her in a hotel in a provincial town, after which they quarrel, the wife disappears without a trace, and the husband finds himself between the world of the living and the dead. By making difficult decisions and periodically doing terrible things, we could influence the ending.

In 2012, Harvester Games released The Cat Lady, where both the picture and technical performance were already at a qualitatively different level. And the plot told about a lonely woman who lived with cats, inviting them to her apartment by playing the piano. Then she committed suicide, but again ended up on the border between the worlds, where she met the local Mephistopheles – the Queen of Hearts. She offered her a deal – to kill five “parasite” people in exchange for a return to life and even immortality. Atmospheric music, very lively, emotional dialogues and well-written characters were included.

In 2016, a remake of Downfall was released, in which Rem Michalski not only corrected the overall visual style, obviously looking back at The Cat Lady, but also removed the logical inconsistencies of the original, actually linking the two stories together. Not everyone liked it, but everyone was looking forward to the third part, which the author clearly hinted at.

Lorelai game review

Why not “Sin City”?

Dislike

We waited. Lorelai, the final part of this trilogy, is out and overall it didn’t disappoint. And purely visually, this is perhaps the best thing that Michalski painted today. Here, for the first time, he mixes 2D and 3D, not forgetting to constantly change the angle and color palette, moving from bright, almost poisonous colors to a stylish black-and-red and black-and-white palette, alternating close-ups and long-range shots in a short space of the frame, adding various artful filters, blur. And flooding all this with walls of rain, a view of drops flowing down the glass, which, together with sadly beautiful music, so accurately reflect the inner state of the main character.

The girl Laura (but everyone calls her Lorelai) with a rosebud in her black hair seems to live in the film of the same Zvyagintsev. The father died, the mother smokes, drinks and suffers from depression, the stepfather (he, of course, almost never dries out) beats the mother and periodically sticks to her eldest daughter. Yes, Lorelai has a breast sister, Bethany, whom her mother’s roommate, of course, can’t stand. College studies also went wrong, and Lorelai is forced to go wash the old women in the nursing home.

At some point, the mother commits suicide, and the stepfather goes crazy – and the bloody horror familiar to this series begins. Lorelai, after death, finds herself in a strange boundary dimension, where she meets the same Queen of Hearts. She, as usual, offers to bring her back to life, but not for beautiful eyes …

Flights in a dream and in reality

From that moment on, the action constantly switches between the past and the present, the boundaries of reality shift, Laura either dies or is reborn and moves between the world of the living and the domain of the Queen of Hearts. And we, as in previous games, desperately do not understand whether this happens in a dream or in reality.Lorelai game review

“Who will kiss me goodnight?”

Michalski, of course, uses familiar techniques. The corridors of the apartment can be painted with bloody patterns and inscriptions, and going out into the kitchen, Lorelai risks falling into another dimension. There are practically no screamers, but there are mannequins that suddenly grow up behind your back and at some point will definitely turn your head. Or, for example, dead old women in a nursing home, even after death, begin to squeeze the panic button, calling for help in the ward with creepy pictures. What will happen if you reach out to their hand and open your hand – you yourself understand …

However, in the performance of Rem Michalsky, even clichés are impressive due to how stylish, powerful and atmospheric it is served. Music plays a special role in this, due to which a more or less measured narrative (well, as far as we can talk about it in this case) periodically turns into cool music videos. In the end, it all starts to look like some kind of art-house movie – well, or like the typical Legion series by Noah Hawley.

To die, so with music. And a smile!

Our heroine solves the corresponding tasks. Find the headless corpses of herself and her mother, and then find their heads and attach them back; put a pig snout on the stepfather; correctly arrange items on the graves of your family members (and on your own, of course, too); pulling a key out of a dead shark’s mouth, what’s it like, huh?

Thank God, Michalski does not lose his sense of humor. Laura has a funny neighbor, Zack, who loves video games and makes them himself. In a conversation with him, you can listen to hilarious stories about what projects he is currently preparing for 10 minutes of real time – and even play some (of course, “pixel”). Zach, in particular, assures that the authors of Fortnite and similar royal battles stole the idea from him.

Lorelai game review

There are also some kind of QTE.

One day he will offer to help open the lock – because he saw how they do it in Skyrim. The heroine herself remembers that cats seem to be afraid of cucumbers, and willingly uses this knowledge to make one street cat, squealing and jumping, rush off into the distance and drag the dog that is preventing us from passing.

Easier means worse?

Everything is good in Lorelai – visual style, music, dialogues, plot, characters, which, despite the mysticism reigning around, are very similar to real people. However, if you compare the game with the previous parts of this trilogy, you can see that the puzzles have become much simpler (we are mainly looking for, using and combining one or two items from the inventory), and the story is more understandable, simple and concise. In any other case, this would be considered a boon, but what you expect from the horror of Harvester Games is precisely that of a higher degree of insanity, flourishing complexity and wild, inexplicable deeds. In other words, here we get the “Leviathan” by the same Zvyagintsev (well, or “The Fool” by Yuri Bykov) about everyday life, only with powerful mysticism – but I would like, for example, “Antichrist” by Lars von Trier (Lars von Trier)!

As before, we periodically make decisions about how to act and what to respond: to be bold and even rude or obedient; whether to smoke your first cigarette or not; call Zach your boyfriend or keep your distance; pour a laxative into the tea of ​​the nasty older sister in the nursing home or try to build a relationship with her. But now the decisions have become more obvious – and by and large, only one or two of them will somehow affect the final.

Lorelai game review

The variety of visual solutions in this game is amazing.

Other dilemmas no longer evoke the same emotional response. In The Cat Lady, at some point it depended on us whether we would bring the main character to hysterics or not. And in Lorelai, something similar happens only in relation to an unfamiliar uncle – well, what do we care about him?

Dots over i

On the other hand, we must understand that times have changed. And today, the authors (which was noticeable even in the Downfall remake) are also working for a new audience. That is why, apparently, they decided to make history more sane, accessible. In addition, if we are talking specifically about the final part of the trilogy, then it was clearly important to dot the i’s and finally give answers. In this regard, the decision to simplify the plot, to finalize the image of the same Queen of Hearts (although not everyone may like exactly how it was done) looks just right.

By the way, Lorelai has a lot of references to Downfall and The Cat Lady – the authors tried to more or less put all the lines together. Apparently, this is also why it was necessary to make the story more linear – so that the players would not tear the emerging puzzle apart with an abundance of their decisions.

A typical situation for this game.

***

In any case, Lorelai and this whole beautifully crazy trilogy from Harvester Games is, of course, a phenomenon. What started as a niche indie nightmare eventually turned into the same niche, independent, but already real art – with outstanding visual and musical accompaniment, non-trivial direction, lively characters. And with the right to hope. In fact, there is no violence for the sake of violence. Despite all the mysticism and hypertrophied cruelty, these are games about all of us, about our lives – and this virtual reality is cruel in direct proportion to how cruel our real existential existence is. Here there was a place for black depression, and light sadness, and melancholy, and freaks, and people. It turns out a sort of substitution therapy for those who find themselves in similar situations. Just before starting treatment with Lorelai, I strongly recommend that you first familiarize yourself with Downfall and The Cat Lady. And then we will wait together for new games from Harvester Games.

Pros: a truly fascinating story; lively, developed characters and dialogues; chic directing; adult themes; outstanding visual and musical accompaniment.

Cons: the plot has become simpler, shorter and more linear compared to previous games; riddles are simplified; the animation is as clumsy as before (although this can be called a conscious styling decision).

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