Developer: Mi'pu'mi Games
Publisher: Mi'pu'mi Games
Platform: Switch, PC, iOS, Android
Release Date: July 10, 2018
ESRB: T for Teen
Note: This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game
When I played The Lion’s Song, I felt one thing: warmth.
The diminutive point-and-click adventure, set in early-20th century Vienna, is a sepia-toned love letter to the creative process. If you’re a fan of art, or an artist yourself, The Lion’s Song may resonate with you more than most. The game is divided into four chapters, with the first three focusing on the lives of several European musicians, painters, and mathematicians. If you enjoy your games with a healthy dose of atmospheric presence and history, then stop reading and snag The Lion’s Song on Switch or PC right now.
The first chapter focuses on musician Wilma, who struggles with anxiety and dissatisfaction with her work. Wilma also happens to long for her mentor, a composer who seems to be blissfully unaware of her attraction to him. To get away from the hustle and bustle of Vienna, the mentor sends Wilma to a secluded cabin in the mountains in order to help her compose a masterpiece worthy of her talents. The process is not without conflict, and Wilma spends much of her time in the cabin seeking inspiration and grappling with her inner demons.
Unlike most point-and-click adventure titles, The Lion’s Song is restrained with its use of interactive elements.
Wilma’s cabin, for instance, only features a few useful objects or sights to select. The more important aspect is the outcome of the cabin stay, and the success of Wilma’s trials is conveyed through the small snippets of music that play when she feels inspired by something. Quietly, there are several narrative decision points that occur, but none that feel obtrusive or have obvious consequences. The plot seems to chug along, regardless of the decisions you make.
The other chapters intertwine with Wilma’s story, and with each other. The plot threads that come together feel natural and expected, though I won’t spoil them for you. Suffice it to say that Vienna feels a bit smaller and more intimate, despite its obvious urban sprawl. The final chapter reveals what happened to each character over time and closes out the personal stories nicely. If players so choose, they can also change the decisions they made in the other chapters and see the resulting dialogue outcomes. It’s a nice option to have, though I opted to stick with the plot decisions I’d made previously.
Vienna is as much a character as the artists and feels vibrantly alive despite the limitations of the environmental art. Through clever sound design, a well-composed soundtrack, and a pseudo “slice of life” depiction of each artist, Vienna is colored between the narrative margins. It allows the scenes to feel expansive and full, even if the screen only shows a small grouping of characters at any single time. You get a small sense of what it might have felt like to be in a Viennese ballroom, sipping tea with Gustav Klimt and schmoozing amongst the local avant-garde art critics, or attending a massive concert hall during a violin performance.
The Lion’s Song is a joy to look at, with the beautiful sepia hues adding a vintage feel to the scenes.
Much like the artists and thinkers depicted within, the game’s art is expressive and well-crafted. It made me want more of it, and I wish The Lion’s Song had more chapters. Your time with Vienna will be all too brief, but it’s a pleasure while it lasts. You’ll feel the pain of failed innovation and the triumph of a creative vision realized.
The Lion’s Song is a beautiful game, and the time required to experience Vienna’s atmosphere is minimal. It’ll leave you longing for a European art expedition, even for those who aren’t dedicated art fans. The creative struggles each character endures are humanized and relatable, especially for anyone who’s tried to innovate or create. If you’re the creative type, The Lion’s Song is a must-play experience.
+ A charming, beautiful adventure filled with warmth
+ Relatable, well-realized characters
+ Great sound design and music
+ Vienna is well-realized in small snippets
- It ends too quickly!
Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)
If you’re a fan of classic point-and-click adventures, art, well-written stories, or all of the above, you owe it to yourself to see what The Lion’s Song has to offer you.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
Edited by Jason Clement