The Lions Song is a point and click adventure game that explores the lives of three talented individuals living in pre-war Austria. The game looks at the struggles and internal conflicts with finding creativity and inspiration. The player must help each character overcome their personal obstacles and reach their potential. The game does a masterful job at visualising the struggles of these individuals as they fight their inner demons to gain success in their field. The game manages to masterfully externalise the internal conflict and pressure that these great minds face when trying to find creativity and inspiration.
The Lion’s Song is available on Steam a season pass which includes all four parts for £8.99 or players can download Episode 1: Silence for free.
The story of The Lion’s Song is structured into four episodes.Each part holds a self-contained story about one person. The player is given an intricate role in deciding certain choices that effects the story and the outcome of the overall game. In each episode, the choices the player makes will have an impact on options and story lines within other episodes. Episode 1: Silence is focused on Wilma, a violinist who is on the brink of success. Suffering from writer's block, Wilma has been sent to the mountains to get some fresh air and find inspiration for her new piece of music.In a secluded cabin, Wilma is left to find her new song but is having trouble due to the pressure of success.
Episode 2: Anthology follows the ambitious of a young painter named Franz who has the gift of seeing people’s ‘layers’ when he meets them. These layers are hidden personality traits of a person, exposing their deepest fears, flawsandbeautyThis allows him to paint insightful and powerful portraits of people, but there is something holding him back from reaching recognition as a famous artist. There is something missing from his work and he cannot see what it is.
These first two episodes deal with the challenges of an inner battle but in Episode Three: Derivation widens its gaze to the social struggles of a female mathematician trying to get her voice heard in the world of a male dominated academic institution. Emma must take the risk of disguising herself as a man for others to take her ideas seriously and also prove her mathematical findings on the states of change.
The final part Episode 4: Closure follows a journalist, Albert as he boards a train whose destination is unknown. As he finds his compartment he meets three other men who all have connections to the composer, artist, and mathematician. Due to episode four being the final episode, it's a shame that there wasn't as much depth to Albert's story and the game didn't really delve into his story as much as the other episodes did with their characters. Even so, it's a tear-jerker of a finale that weaves all the previous episodes together. It really drives home the idea of human connections and not only inspiring yourself but other people to reach their potential. All four episodes are layered with emotions and meanings and are incredibly written.
The Lion’s Song is mainly driven by its story but it also has some point and click style gameplay that keeps things interesting. One aspect that has been masterfully achieved is the way that the player helps the character’s aspirations. In Wilma’s story, the player can click on objects or part of the landscape to help her find inspiration for different parts of her composition. Clicking on a poetry book makes Wilma read it and she might become inspired by a poem’s irregular rhythm. Having Wilma go outside and clicking on parts of the landscape can also spark creativity. The first episode this is the main aspect of the gameplay but as the game progresses through its episodes each part includes different player interactions.
Wilma’s story was kept within the confines of the cabin, and one screen in the game but Franz and Emma’s storied take place within the city of Vienna. With this change in landscape comes new locations to visit making the stories in episodes 2 &3 more dynamic. There is a game map of Vienna where you can click on locations to visit and within these places, you can move the characters by clicking and speak to NPCs. In Franz’s story, the player can decide on who Franz paints as well as picking what questions to ask the muse when Franz is painting them, helping him see their different layers of personality. With Emma the player can decide when they want Emma to dress as her male alter-ego Emil, seeing how characters and situations change when she changes into a man and vice-versa.
There are some small puzzle elements in The Lion’s Song but the gameplay is focused on the choices you make for the characters and how it affects their lives. It’s about experiencing how certain choices can directly affect a creator’s inspirations. What makes then inspired and what holds them back. At the end of each episode, there is a table of the choices that other players have chosen, revealing that certain decisions could have ended differently making you want to replay the story.
Graphics and Audio
The visual style of the game is a detailed range of brown and beige pixel art. This colour scheme evokes the feeling of an old faded photograph from the early 1900s which suit the year that the game is set. The style of the visuals is incredibly detailed, the way that the visuals are handled gives this 2D world lots of depth. There are also some really interesting angles and perspectives that mix things up a little instead of just looking at a scene straight on.
An important aspect that makes The Lion’s Song an emotional journey is its use of imagery. There are little moments that really give the player an insight into the character’s minds. The small snippets of twinkling motifs we hear when we click on an object in Wilma’s story, literally seeing the outlines of people’s multiple personalities that Franz sees and the tumbling leaves that fall down as Emma tries to visualise her theory on states of change. We aren’t just told through text that these characters are struggling with ideas because we can see it through the games artful visuals.
The soundtrack is a classical style of music that prominently features a rich orchestra with a focus on a single violin, this being a reference to the music that Wilma composes in the first episode. Her violin is featured in all the main music of the game and carries with it the emotions and story in the first part into the other parts of the narrative: loneliness, loss, and hope. The emphasis on the one violin also acts as a thematic point that these characters have unique gifts that set them out from the crowd (or orchestra).
The Lion’s Song is a beautifully crafted and written game. It touches upon feelings that all creative individuals have faced regarding creativity and motivation. The characters find their inspirations outside the stuffy, socialite city and into the real world within real people. There is a bonus gallery feature that appears when you finish episode 4 that shows all the connections between the characters, that the decisions and actions of an individual can influence another without either of them realising it. All the characters in The Lion’s Song are connected and they all help each other without realising it. It's a humble, delicate message reflective of the game as a whole.
|+ A unique story topic of creativity and inspiration||– Not as much focus on last character|
|+ Beautiful imagery and visuals|
|+ First episode is free to play|