Lydia (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 23.02.2020

Review for Lydia on Nintendo Switch

Visual novels are something of a double edged sword from a design perspective. On one hand, the genre allows developers to tell compelling stories in an interactive medium without much restriction. On the other hand, they can be a crutch for those developers who want to tell their story, but don't want to do much else with the medium. Gaming is such a unique art form that it's not unreasonable to request video games be video games for a reason. At the same time, it's critical to recognize that the mere act of controlling a character is sometimes enough to form interconnectivity between a title and its audience - but enough of that. Take a look on what Cubed has to say about Lydia, the latest addition the Switch's growing library of visual novels.

Lydia is undeniably light when it comes to conventional game design. For the majority of the hour or so long play-through, audiences will spend their time walking from point A to point B, with flavour text and a few minor puzzles (if they can be called that) peppered along the way. Putting it in such plain terms makes it seem as though only the bare minimum is reached in terms of design, but that ignores the aesthetic at the core of the experience.

Visually, the titular Lydia's adventure might come off Tim Burton-chic, but aesthetically it's more far more complicated and deliberate than just serving as an appropriate art style. Lydia's arc is one told through the thread of abuse, weaved from child to adulthood. The art style is used as a means to convey Lydia's state of mind, reflecting the abuse and neglect permeating her life. Backdrops are mainly greyscale and simple, but there's an intricacy to the world around Lydia. Little details ingrained drawn into the background, don't necessarily lend to a more immersive experience, but they certainly bolster the atmosphere.

Any instances of colour come from outside light sources that accent the greyscale rather than replace it. A campfire lights the screen orange, a loud television blares out an aggressive red glare, and the golden gaze of a dozen onlookers follow Lydia like a hawk. There's an element of paranoia to it all, as if Lydia is being watched at every turn; as if things can turn sour at any second. Of course, there's no real tension gameplay-wise, but it serves the storytelling well.

Screenshot for Lydia on Nintendo Switch

This is where audiences will find themselves divided on as far as Lydia is concerned. Narratively, this is a well told story about abuse. The script is tactful, Lydia's arc is enthralling, and the atmosphere is top notch. In terms of gameplay, there's not much here. There are some elements of choice, but they're illusory, and exist in benefit of the plot. What puzzle-solving there is at hand, never goes beyond the surface level, and seldom requires much thought. It's not a visual novel that invites revisiting.

...But it is worth at least one full play-through. Lydia is incredibly short, but that's not a problem whatsoever. The story never outstays its welcome, and Lydia's growth as a character is easily digestible, without feeling rushed. Hers is a story about living in an abusive environment that many will relate to. Lydia isn't afraid to get uncomfortable, and is able to pack a surprising amount of emotional depth into roughly an hour of gameplay. At the same time, it should be recognized how the title could have improved itself.

Divided into four key chapters, there was plenty more room for puzzle-solving and exploration. As is, the story retrains strong pacing throughout, but a few extra minutes spent engaging with any game design concept or mechanic could have helped Lydia's arc. After all, the game medium can connect an audience to what they're experiencing in a way cinema or literature can't. You, the player, control what you experience. A story of abuse like Lydia's might prove to be too uncomfortable when given an intimate connection to the gameplay, but art shouldn't shy away from being uncomfortable, and it unfortunately seems as though the developers missed an opportunity to push Lydia just one step further.

Screenshot for Lydia on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Short, sweet, and to the point, Lydia makes for a memorable and engaging hour of gameplay. Its story of abuse will prove uncomfortable, but a restrained hand ensures audiences never have to confront anything too visceral through gameplay. There isn't much in the way of replayability, but a well told story, plus an excellent visual style make Lydia a worthwhile play-through for anyone looking for something emotionally dense.

Developer

Platonic Partnership

Publisher

Nakana.io

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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