Lorelei and the Laser Eyes critiqued: My ultimate video game analysis.

A figure stands in front of a shattered mirror in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.
Positives
  • Original puzzle design
  • Consistently unexpected
  • Undeniably eerie ambiance
  • Impressive visual flair
  • Thematic depth
Negatives
  • Scarcity of clues might alienate certain players

I’m 15 hours deep into Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, the enigmatic new title from the minds behind Sayonara Wild Hearts, developer Simogo. However, my playtime doesn’t fully represent the dedication poured into unravelling its ultimate conundrum. When factoring in countless sleepless nights spent pondering unsolved ciphers, I’ve likely dedicated closer to 100 hours to reach this point. After extensive mental gymnastics, I find myself on the verge of cracking the labyrinth and exposing the truth concealed within its core mystery. But a final obstacle stands in my path.

Five symbols. That’s the sole barrier before me.

Early in my residence at the bleak Hotel Letztes Jahr, I stumbled upon five peculiar shapes hidden throughout its chambers. Initially abstract to me, I stored them in the depths of my memory. Now, everything hinges on them. Failure to decipher their significance would result in an eternal entrapment, clawing futilely at a metallic door concealing the coveted answers. My once orderly notebook, aiding me in tracking clues throughout my journey, reaches a tipping point. Every available space is being filled with potential solutions.

“Could they spell out a word?” I ponder as I rearrange them in search of coherence.

“Perhaps a numerical code!” Illusory ones and sevens begin to materialize.

“Symmetry!” I flip my notebook frantically, teetering on the edge of sanity.

The more I scrawl and ramble, the further reality slips beyond reach. Although a single concrete solution exists, it seems inconsequential amidst the chaos consuming me. Over a dozen hours of logical puzzle solving methodology are discarded. Personal interpretation overtakes my pursuit of truth. I’m no longer focused on reconstructing a fractured mirror; I’m reconstructing my own identity within its shards.

This experience lies at the heart of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. Simogo’s enigmatic odyssey not only challenges players with meticulously crafted puzzles that offer a devilish satisfaction upon solving, but also draws parallels between deconstructing fiction and reality. By imposing our perspectives on both, we strive to comprehend the incomprehensible. A groundbreaking piece of interactive fiction, inviting players to lose themselves within its maze.

Solitary in the Shadows

Despite grappling with complex concepts, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a seemingly straightforward endeavor deeply rooted in gaming history. The narrative follows a protagonist invited to a hotel to assist in an eccentric Italian filmmaker’s latest project. Stepping foot into the establishment, she becomes entwined in a web of escalating mysteries hidden within its walls. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, she navigates intertwining enigmas centered around an enigmatic artist whose creations adorn the hotel.

The most meticulously crafted game I’ve encountered.

Presented through classic puzzle box gameplay reminiscent of foundational horror classics like Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark, players explore the open-ended hotel, solving a multitude of puzzles to uncover documents shedding light on the cryptic narrative. Beginning with simple tasks such as inputting correct numbers into padlocks based on hinted clues or using keys to access specific rooms, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes transcends into what might be the most painstakingly designed game in my gaming experience.

The remarkable aspect here is the elaborate puzzle language crafted by Simogo. Predicaments initially seem insurmountable but transform into second nature upon revisiting them armed with newfound puzzle-solving knowledge. Recurring hints like names and numbers aid players in constructing a mental map of the intricate maze, leading to several revelatory “Aha!” moments where observant individuals feel like masterminds upon deciphering seemingly cryptic solutions. Though no challenge is insurmountable within Hotel Letztes Jahr, substantial mental exertion is imperative.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes proves less forgiving than the average puzzle game, despite its streamlined one-button control system. Puzzle formats continuously evolve, devoid of any hint system. Solutions aren’t easily brute-forced, with only a few optional shortcut conundrums available. Those guessing their way to a correct answer risk overlooking crucial logic principles that might lead to confusion later. Every word holds significance; even museum placards detailing various sculptures within the hotel may conceal covert clues. By the game’s conclusion, I became intimately acquainted with every facet of the world and its characters due to the meticulous examination of every textual scrap encountered.

A character gazes at a dining table in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.

The gratification derived from such trials is indescribably euphoric. Midway through my expedition, I found myself at an impasse with a singular puzzle necessary for progression. Centered around a room filled with busts, each adorned with a nonsensical inscription bearing strings of letters and numbers, I struggled. Days accumulated as I wrestled with unlocking their enigmatic code, crucial for inputting into a nearby computer. Attempting to unravel the mystery every night prior to slumber proved fruitless. Yet, in a sudden epiphany during a morning shower, the solution dawned on me. Within 20 fleeting seconds, everything aligned. Unintentionally ommiting the game from thought, it had firmly entrenched itself within my subconscious mind.

In a press communication, Simogo confessed that completion of the entire game by most players is not anticipated. This deliberate design choice instigates misleading paths and dead-ends, encapsulating the essence of a labyrinth. The thrill emerges once spatial orientation is utterly lost, breeding a fear of eternal entrapment. This disquieting sensation permeates Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, heightening the gratification upon selecting the correct pathway.

Enigmatic Aesthetic

Though not explicitly marketed as a horror title, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes seamlessly integrates into the genre, standing shoulder to shoulder with its referenced classics. A positively chilling escapade delving into subtle psychological horror, bar one legitimate jump scare (an homage to the premier Resident Evil’s pinnacle suspenseful moment), Simogo focuses on crafting an intangibly disquieting atmosphere that resonates even after game completion. Evident in its enthralling black-and-white art style, sporadically accented by blood-red nuances that taint the game world.

Unexpected twists inject continual surprises into the unpredictable journey.

Every facet of the aesthetic is purposeful, devoid of superfluous gestures. The stark visuals pay homage to the Italian art-house cinema of the 1960s, pivotal in deciphering its stance on artistic interpretation. Fixed camera angles further echo the early Resident Evil era, surreptitiously elevating tension. History isn’t merely an ornamental backdrop; it is as integral to the narrative as the scattered newspapers and journals littered throughout.

Simogo gleefully explores this notion during Lorelei’s most introspective visual sequences. Engaged in a puzzle chain delving into playable prototypes for a horror game akin to the original PlayStation era—complete with cumbersome tank controls—I am provided an interactive opportunity to purchase a trilogy of games for a Game Boy-style console. One title reimagines Lorelei and the Laser Eyes as a Super Pac-Man-esque game. Such unexpected twists pepper the erratic journey with continual surprises, serving to elucidate the evolving tapestry of gaming history.

A man brandishes a firearm in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.

While the 90s horror game association stands as Lorelei’s most evident inspiration, its tendrils reach further. Stripping down both Lorelei and Resident Evil reveals a fundamental connection—the essence of the “maze game” genre. Navigating claustrophobic spaces in pursuit of an exit unites both titles. Tracing them back to seminal games like 3D Monster Maze—an account acknowledged through a memorable visual nod—Lorelei and the Laser Eyes emerges as a retrospective exploration of gaming lineage, bridging the past with the present.

A Shift in Perspective

If my ruminations seem scattered, your observation is accurate. I grasp at every narrative thread within the game, weaving intricate meanings. While some interpretations may appear far-fetched—an overzealous attempt to untangle an inscrutable enigma—there’s a rationale behind it. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes encapsulates this very experience.

Art and our interaction with it emerge as a focal point of this convoluted tale. The Italian filmmaker, capturing the essence of the storyline, stands as an avant-garde visionary akin to 8 ½’s Guido Anselmi, advocating for art’s inherent challenge. “Money is to art what the black plague is to baby seals,” he emphatically asserts, criticizing commercialism’s stifling influence on artistry. Preferring provocation to mere entertainment, his philosophy permeates the game, mirroring its reluctance to coddle players through intricate puzzles. When faced with a conundrum akin to the five-symbol puzzle, mentioned earlier in this discourse, and seeking guidance from the game’s PR representatives, the response received was deliberately cryptic, akin to being reluctantly divulged.

The puzzle-box adventure morphs into a quest for truth.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes craves interpretation, necessitating players to unravel its enigmatic narrative and intricate puzzles. This is most evident in Lorelei Weiss, the eponymous character. Initially portrayed as a prolific visual artist fixated on perspective, the hotel emerges as a living exposition of her oeuvre—mirroring the game’s tribute to gaming history. Central to the game’s most formidable puzzles are ciphers concealed within her sculptures. These creations transcend mere solutions, highlighting the symbiosis between observer and art. Dormant objects within a decrepit hotel, awaiting meaning ascribed by an observer.

“Art is elevated by its beholders,” a character muses.

Yet this isn’t merely a pompous homage to art-making. These reflections foray into a more poignant revelation. The narrative serves as Lorelei’s biography, at times difficult to disentangle from the fiction enveloping her. With numerous gaps akin to pages excised from a biography, one can only speculate regarding her identity and history.

As I strive to mend these narrative fragments, my thoughts drift to Anatomy of a Fall, an Oscar-winning film chronicling an author accused of spousal murder. The unresolved query of her guilt transforms her life into an avant-garde opus for legal and public scrutiny—each party crafting their interpretation founded on rigid facts. Our attempts to untangle reality mirror our approach to analyzing art.

A character wanders through a fractured maze in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.

Through this lens, the physical and metaphorical mazes at Lorelei and the Laser Eyes’ core attain a poignant depth. The puzzle-box adventure emerges as a truth-seeking odyssey. Unveiling the authentic Lorelei Weiss is my objective. Every narrative thread projected onto her feels like a misstep in a labyrinth. Reveling in the joy of exploration and disorientation, a solitary path prevails—much like each puzzle solved within this landscape possessing a solitary solution, despite my varied attempts to decipher abstract symbols.

The ultimate reward is the essence of the maze: the true Lorelei Weiss. It’s akin to unveiling a video game’s source code—a raw revelation elucidating its inner workings without ambiguity. Perhaps this elucidates why Simogo accepts the likelihood of most players never reaching the final credits. To unearth the conclusion is to demystify an unyielding reality devoid of interpretation. The joy might lie in perpetual disorientation, eternally journeying through the labyrinthine structures of fiction enshrouding fact.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes was assessed on PC and Steam Deck.

Bella Anderson

Bella is a tech enthusiast turned journalist, passionate about decoding complex innovations into understandable insights.

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