Murderers rarely get the support of an audience, because the act of killing someone is wrong. But when you are introduced to a suffering protagonist who admits murder, what do you feel? That’s the question you grapple with as you play Loretta, where the titular character murders her husband before the story starts. The story grapples with the troubles that her deceased husband brings, as well as Loretta’s desire for a better life.
Loretta does a fantastic job of presenting a villain protagonist who just wants a better life for herself. Choosing Loretta’s actions and exploring the different paths available to her bring great replay value, especially because the paths are very different. Storytelling is the game’s greatest strength, but it shoots itself in the foot by introducing seemingly random scenes and confusing puzzles. This disrupts the storytelling and introduces frustration, weakening what would otherwise be a great game.
Loretta is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for USD 14.99.
Story – Getting Away With Murder?
Walter Harris is dead, and that’s a key fact you must remember for Loretta’s story. Loretta’s murder of her husband drives the story, and it looks at two different themes. Taking advantage of opportunities to change your life, and how much you don’t know about other people. As Loretta navigates the consequences behind the murder, she deals with both themes in equal measure.
It’s great to see Loretta face the unsettling consequences of her actions, and how she chooses to deal with it. While you can choose the path Loretta takes similar to Ten Dates, the game does not shy away from the lines she must tread. You are hooked when you see your actions play out with different consequences than you initially thought.
Loretta isn’t a plucky protagonist who can easily pick herself up, or is resistant to life’s struggles. She’s a woman battered down by life’s events, and it shows as the story progresses. Whether she just focuses on improving her life or goes down the slippery slope is up to you. Seeing Loretta go down the path you choose for her is thrilling, and you want to see the consequences of your actions.
Unfortunately, the story does hamper itself unnecessarily. Puzzles often present themselves before a scene, which disrupts the pacing. Rather than being puzzles Loretta solves to get past obstacles, these must be completed to proceed. They don’t fit with the narrative, and it is frustrating when you’re getting to a good point, only to be blocked by a puzzle.
The puzzles that relate to Loretta’s struggles make sense and work in context, such as finding a safe combination. Puzzles that appear when switching scenes don’t fit any context. This randomness can be jarring and disruptive, because you don’t know why they exist or how they add to the story.
Gameplay – Loretta’s Reactions & Puzzle Solving
Loretta plays out like a short point-and-click adventure game, with characters interacting with their location and solving simple puzzles. When scenes transition, you will be playing short puzzle games, trying to find the solution. Some of these puzzles are simple object selection while character narration happens below.
The point-and-click adventure is where the real meat of the game takes place. Not only are you following Loretta’s plan to improve her life, you’re also dictating how she reacts to situations. How Loretta responds to situations determines her actions, as well as the following consequences. Loretta can be a woman who was tired of her unsatisfying marriage and acted on impulse. She can also be a woman who thinks everyone’s a leech and should disappear.
These choices aren’t cosmetic; they determine Loretta’s actions and ultimately how the game ends. While you can’t change how some events play out, having the agency to determine what happens hooks you in. It reinforces the thriller aspect of the story, and makes you want to go back multiple times to see if something might change.
The point-and-click gameplay doesn’t take up much of the story, which actually works better for enhancing the story. Finding what you need isn’t difficult to solve, and allows the player to focus on the story rather than a frustrating puzzle. Unfortunately, the puzzles that aren’t in the story itself are far worse for the gameplay.
Puzzles – Unnecessary & Confusing
Loretta breaks up the story with scene transitions which reflect the theme or location of the next scene. It serves as a nice foreshadowing device to the upcoming scene, as well as the introduction of a puzzle. Unfortunately, this is where Loretta stumbles where it doesn’t need to. These puzzles are mandatory to progress to the next scene, and you can’t skip them.
The confusing part is that there are no instructions for these puzzles. Some are easy, such as picking one picture out of three, while narration about psychology ensues. Others, such as a mirror reflecting words, require you to select words that are white when reflected. You must play around and find the solution on your own.
Not only do these puzzles have nothing to do with the story, they don’t make much sense because of the lack of instructions. While they are not frustratingly difficult, the lack of instructions doesn’t make sense. Why does a player lack instructions for the puzzle? What does this puzzle add to the story? Do you learn something as a result of the puzzle? These questions are never answered, which makes their presence rather pointless.
Not all of the puzzles work properly as well. Some puzzles require you to select objects and repel them away, but the selection isn’t always registered. This makes a puzzle harder than it needs to be, and creates frustration. You do everything you can, you follow the instructions, but the game doesn’t register your responses. It makes you wonder why Loretta includes these puzzles.
Audio & Visuals – Gritty 2D Visuals
Loretta only has 2D graphics just like Have A Nice Death, but it suits the game perfectly. Visuals of characters are detailed, and you can clearly tell what they look like. When playing the game and moving around, everything is regular 2D sprites, like an old-fashioned game. The game’s setting takes place in 1947, and the 2D sprites don’t betray that feeling at all.
The ambient soundtrack also fits the scenes well. You sometimes don’t hear any sound, but it’s a deliberate choice, saved for the truly intense moments. There’s a buildup whenever Loretta is about to make a crucial decision, and it heightens the intensity of the moment. Otherwise, the noise sounds just like what you would expect in a lonely setting, with the appropriate sounds as necessary.
Loretta was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by Yakov Butuzov.