lisa is a game that gets very hard to explain very quickly.
the best way i'd like to sum up the surface idea of lisa is that there are no women, and all of the men that are left are middle aged, and either insane, want you dead, or both.
you play as this drudged-up motherfucker pictured below, brad armstrong, a 35 year old karate teacher with a past that would make any 14-year-old tiktok addict split 25 alters just from hearing about it. he's also a drug addict who tries to go clean and fails, a failed father. this man is fucked up.
and then while you're in olathe post-no-womanization for god knows how long, with your weird team of three other burnouts, you find A FUCKING BABY. in the middle of nowhere. holy shit. a baby. and what's more than a baby? it's a baby girl. there is one (1) girl in the game about no girls. bring her home. raise her in secret with your three burnouts. come back from an errand. she got kidnapped. your men are missing or dead.
go out and find your little buddy, against all odds, and with no mental whim to stop, ever.
lisa is a game that manages to perfect the "quirky" part of the "quirky indie rpg" genre, which is made even more impressive seeing the crapsack world it stars. your party members will all be strange men of all different types, and some aren't even human. that red thing down below is a list of my favorite characters in this game.
plenty of characters are out to do nothing plot-relevant but attempt to kill you. there is a gang ran by a man who wants you gone beyond everything else because he has personal beef with you. there is a second gang with the same concept, except much more plot relevant, tying back to drugtrades and worse!
speaking of drugs, brad being a drug addict, and his choice is the drug of olathe -- joy. you take it, it makes you feel nothing. it works for trauma survivors like brad. nothing is better than pain. i think if joy was real i would take it too. withdrawal becomes hell, and then becomes mutating and becoming some fleshy violent barely-sentient lump of flesh.
Queen Roger is a crossdresser who owns the Beehive and will join your party if you work for her and "service" a few clients. Beats a man's head in with a bat as her introduction scene, right in front of you. Her attacks all involve said bat, and hit hard. I think she could solo Rupaul any day. The only good drag queen ever, in other words.
Harvey Alibastor is a literal fish with legs and a hat. Your defense manager for an accusation of stealing a map, but all he does is insult the judge and tell said judge you fucked his wife. Also joins your party after this. He has one of my favorite attack methods in this game -- throwing legal papers. They can give the enemy papercuts. Witty, a fish, and everything else.
I literally just like Garth because his entire career in Olathe is drawing porn for people. You aquire him by giving him reference materials. He is literally just every Twitter artist. One of a few Kickstarter-implemented guys.
Wally is an object of worship for an entire village because he serves them fast-food. You go up to his restaurant on a cliff, it's full of bloody meat. Kill and maim. The mask breaks off. Oh, God. There is no in-universe explaination for Wally.
And who could forget the walking-spoiler? Won't say much just in case, but she dies before the game's plot really begins, has a prequel game of her own. If you meet someone who says they kin her (for fun, at least), run. Red flag of the century.
olathe as a place is exactly how i'd imagine a man-only world to be like. feel free to call me a downer or just misandrist, but i have no faith in any of these men whatsoever. and that's what makes lisa a good game! the world is a crapshoot, your life fucking sucks, but the experience is fun along the way. you pay for a new weapon with porn magazines, because that's what everybody else pays for things with here. kill a man who was standing in the way, because what else could you do? get ambushed. lose some limbs.
but this game isn't just that silly goofy quirkiness. it handles the issues of generational trauma, drug abuse, child abuse, and other untouchable topics very well, which makes the game all the more touching. you are not evil, but you are not good, either. you are just in pain.