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Review: Lorelei And The Laser Eyes (Switch) – An Excellent Puzzle-Filled Homage To Resident Evil

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

It’s fair to say at this point that Annapurna Interactive has one hell of an eye for a good game. A laser eye, if you will.

The odd stumble aside – Twelve Minutes was a bit rubbish and the likes of Last Stop and Open Roads were perfectly fine, but not quite masterpieces – for the most part, Annapurna has an exceptional track record in setting up publishing deals for some of the most fantastic indie games.

One of these fantastic games was the music-based Sayonara Wild Hearts, developed by Simogo and released in 2019. After its critical success, Annapurna announced a multi-year agreement that would see it publishing future Simogo games. Nearly half a decade later its next game — Lorelei and the Laser Eyes — is here, and it was well worth the wait.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is one of those annoying reviews where it’s difficult to say too much because ignorance is bliss. This is very much a game where you’ll get the most out of it by knowing as little as possible since the whole point of it is trying to figure out what’s going on and piecing together the plot.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

All we’ll say is that you start in a field, standing next to a car, and your first task is to make your way to a nearby hotel, where the story properly starts. Everything else is for you to find out for yourself, but be warned that you need to be a very specific kind of player to get the most out of this game.

If you like the puzzle-solving elements of survival horror games like Resident Evil, this game is very much for you. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is essentially an early Resident Evil game with the zombies removed and far more puzzles added. Practically everywhere you go there’s some sort of riddle to solve or code to break.

As soon as you get to the hotel you quickly discover that it’s full of locks. Almost every door is locked, there are locked containers dotted around which are holding important documents, and it generally gets to the point that when you approach something and it just opens without any qualms, it’s a genuine surprise. What this means is that the game is played at a rather slow pace. The initial aim here is to wander around the building, studying all the items lying around and gathering clues that may help you start unlocking some of these doors, to open the place up a bit.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Crucially, most of these puzzles have been designed in such a way that they have logical solutions, meaning it’s rare that you’ll get annoyed. When you’re stumped for a long time and finally discover the solution, it’s less “How was I supposed to think of that?”, and more “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that sooner”. When you get a hunch and decide to try something, and you see that lock opening, the level of satisfaction because you figured it out yourself is off the charts.

And that’s the thing – you absolutely do have to figure it out yourself. For the most part, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes makes no attempt to give you any extra hints beyond the clues you have to find yourself while exploring the building. There’s no pointer leading to your next objective, no optional prompt telling you what to do next. It’s you, in the hotel, using what’s around you to figure out the solution.

It’s a stubbornly old-school mentality but it really does work here. The sheer number of puzzles that have to be solved can be more than a little overwhelming at times, but it’s designed to be that way. You’re supposed to be completely bewildered and feel like you have no clue what to do next because it’s all the more rewarding when you do figure out the next door code or which item to use next in a certain location.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Unless you’ve managed to avoid the screenshots on this page, it should also go without saying that Lorelei and the Laser Eyes’ art style is beautifully striking. But we’re going to say it anyway because that’s the point of a review. Old movies play a role in the plot to an extent, and here the developers have made similar stylistic choices.

The vast majority of the game is played in black and white, with the occasional item or person shown in colour for added effect. When players interact with an item and the game gives them a message (such as a locked door or what have you), this message is presented as a separate full-screen caption, in the style of a silent movie. Given the generally slow pace of the game, this isn’t as annoying as it sounds like it could be.

Simogo has always specialised in games that have unique and eye-catching aesthetics, and this is a shining example. In much the same way that Sayonara Wild Hearts benefited greatly from its minimalist visuals, we dare say that Lorelei would be less compelling if it lost all its style and was presented as a realistic adventure.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Compelling it is, however, and as long as you’re comfortable with the idea of being placed in a building full of puzzles to crack and slowly working your way through them all – the game even creates a checklist for you so you know which doors, containers and other problems you’ve yet to solve – this is a game that will captivate you for almost the entire duration.

We say ‘almost’ because some sections didn’t quite nail the landing for us. At times you’ll use an archaic computer to access a series of first-person exploration sections, similar to a dungeon crawler. These look wonderfully lo-fi and are initially a nice change of pace, but they perhaps overstay their welcome and aren’t quite as engaging as exploring the building is.

It also has to be reiterated that this isn’t a game that’s willing to lend you a helping hand when you get lost. It insists on that old-school belief that you have all the tools to figure things out for yourself, and while players raised on the likes of The 7th Guest will have no issues with this, those with more modern sensibilities may become overwhelmed. After all, it’s a game that, on first boot, advises that you grab a physical notebook and play with it nearby.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

You will fall in love with how Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is presented. You will be fascinated by its mysterious story. You will get stuck, a lot. You will have to stop, think, read all the documents you find along the way and have a good think about what to do next. You will have to write things down and try possible solutions out with the understanding that they might not work, but when they do work, the realisation is all the sweeter.

If that sounds like too much work for you, then it might just not be your type of game, no matter how fantastic it looks. For those looking for an atmospheric adventure that refuses to hold your hand, however, we thoroughly recommend this one.

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