Lorelei and the Laser Eyes – PC Review

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Simogo have held a special place in my heart since December 2020. A friend introduced me to Sayonara Wild Hearts around that time. It quickly became one of my favourite games of all time and I have listened to the soundtrack obsessively ever since. When Lorelei and the Laser Eyes was revealed, I was very cautiously interested.

The vibrant colours and upbeat music that drew me to their previous title was replaced by an monochromatic aesthetic and a very eerie, mysterious vibe. However, there was never any doubt that I was going to pick this up day one and see what they’d cooked up.

See It All Through Laser Eyes

Before we get into the review, I want to preface it with this. If you’re at all interested in playing this game with as little up-front knowledge as possible, grab a notepad and pen and play it now before reading. I won’t be spoiling anything below, but I do think the best way to experience the game is to go in with very little knowledge.

It suffices to say this is a puzzle-mystery game, with strong influences from PS1-era survival horrors. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, you should uncover all additional story and contextual information by playing it rather than reading about it.

With that being said, here’s my thoughts on Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.

The player character stands before a grand hotel building, Hotel Letztes Jahr.
An abundance of puzzles awaits the woman.

This is going to be a very difficult game to talk about without giving away too much, but I’ll do my best. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes begins with a very cold open. You select ‘New Game’ from the menu and then there is a woman stood by a car in the forest. Off you go!

Gameplay

Whilst this opening might come across as being indicative of a lack of hand-holding from the game, I don’t feel like that’s the case. In fact, the game is designed in such a way that ample information is handed to you as you play, and is made explicitly available to you at all times.

Once you discover a piece of important information it is stored in your photographic memory, accessible through the game’s menu. This menu also contains a ‘to-do’ list of discovered, and subsequently solved, puzzles and questions. You’ll still absolutely need to make your own notes to help you piece things together, but these features add fantastic quality of life.

Controls

Another aspect of the design that keeps your playthrough as simple as possible is the control scheme. Direction controls and a single interaction button is all that’s required. The single button’s purpose changes with context. This means there’s no controller scheme or mapping to remember when playing, leaving your grey matter to be focus entirely on the puzzles.

Whilst I appreciated the simple controls, a lack of a back/cancel button did catch me out a few times. I’m pretty sure I saved over the wrong save slot at least once after trying to quickly exit a menu by mashing circle.

An in-game figurine depicting The Fool, the main character from Simogo's Sayonara Wild Hearts.
We love an Easter Egg at Thumb Culture

Anyone who has played PlayStation 1 era games such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill will immediately recognise the environmental presentation and traversal. Your player character walks with purpose at a determined pace and pivots on the spot.

The camera for each ‘room’ is generally in a fixed position, occasionally granting a zoomed view when approaching a point of interest. Opening a door results in a cut to a full screen animation of said door opening. All classic hallmarks of the 90s survival horror genre. This works really well to allow the environments to reward keen eyes and thorough investigation.

Riddle Me This

Enough scene setting, the meat and potatoes of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes are the puzzles and this is where the game excels the most. If you’ve ever participated in an escape room challenge, then a lot of the logic challenges and scenarios will seem familiar.

Some doors are secured with combination locks in various forms that require solutions such as a series of decimal numbers or directional inputs. Other doors or passages require an item or key obtained elsewhere to allow them to be unlocked. Some more elaborate ‘locks’ may need you to put together multiple clues gathered from several puzzles, or need you to look at your surroundings from a different perspective.

There will often be a puzzle you encounter that makes no sense at all until few hours later. I found that I would stumble across another clue that gave me a eureka moment and set off a chain of events in my head. Although there’s the photographic memory and mental to-do list, making notes and sketches is absolutely expected and encouraged. Reviewing these notes when you feel stumped will assist your progress immensely.

Great Design

Simogo have designed the game in such a way that you’re unlikely to hit a complete roadblock at any time. There are usually several different puzzles and routes available to explore, meaning if you’re stumped on one puzzle or area, you should have something else in your to-do list to progress.

This change of direction might actually be required for you to obtain more of the solution to the puzzle you’re stuck on, even if it seems to be unconnected.

A man raising his index finger, pointing the the sky subtitled with "I've got it!"
There’s plenty of A-Ha! moments to be had.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes did a fantastic job of making me feel dumb before ultimately giving me a great sense of accomplishment. There were 2 puzzles where I missed what now seem like blindingly obvious solutions, and 2 where I enlisted the help of my partner to help me see the wood through the tress. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the game for a day or so and stew over a puzzle. A couple of ideas for solutions came to me as I was falling asleep on a evening obsessing over the puzzles.

Round And Round We Go

During your investigations you will be heading all over the hotel and its grounds to gather clues, use keys and codes, and generally explore for more information. Thankfully, the level design is constructed in such a way that it’s fairly easy and quick to get to one place from another. This ease of travel can be enhanced too, through the unlocking of shortcuts. There are 20 shortcuts in total and they can significantly increase your ability to get between different areas quickly.

If you have trouble with any of the puzzles that need solving to open these doors though, don’t panic, as they are optional for game completion.

Dollar Dollar Bills

Whilst also not needed for completion, there are several in-game purchases you can make with American Dollars. You are pre-warned that the amount of dollars you can find is finite and to think wisely before spending them. The game does however contain enough money to buy everything, although you may not have enough on hand when a purchase opportunity presents itself. I managed to find 99/100 dollars on my playthrough. Yes, having that 1 outstanding is bothering me, thanks for asking.

Although none of the purchases affect completion, some of them add fun distractions, or assist will quicker exploration.

Graphics & Audio

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is mostly presented in greyscale, with the exception of the colour red, which plays a key role. Red is used to highlight certain puzzle elements and objects, or to differentiate between environments and scenarios. Even through the use of greyscale alone, the amount of detail included in each scene is great enough to not make it difficult to distinguish items of interest and visual clues. Collectible items such as dollar bills, even when well hidden, were generally easily spotted (apart from that final one!).

The woman playing the piano.
A short musical interlude.

The audio design really helps with immersion. The general absence of a backing soundtrack accentuates the woman’s steps, and other noises, as she makes her way around the hotel – all building on the suspense of the story. The occasional glitchy, electronic, scratchy sounds that occur in certain scenarios sometimes made my hair stand on end. You are recommended to play the game in a dimly lit environment, and I support that recommendation; allow yourself to be absorbed into the unsettling ambience being created.

There isn’t a complete lack of musical backing though. Throughout the hotel you’ll discover several record players you get use to add some music to your immediate surroundings. These players build upon the film noir vibes with slow, jazzy pieces. I was also very happy to hear the familiar voice of Sayonara Wild Hearts vocalist Linnea Olsson on the song during the credits. Once again, the combination of her voice and music from Jonathan Eng and Daniel Olsén produce a beautiful piece to see out the final moments of the game.

Longevity

My playthrough ended up being around 23 hours of in-game time, spread across a few days. I also spent plenty of time away from the PC noodling over my notes and thinking about the puzzles I knew I’d found by hadn’t figured out yet. How much time you spend playing will obviously depend on how quickly you can solve the puzzles. I recommend giving yourself space from playing to think about solutions to puzzles before you resort to googling because the sense of achievement after will be all the greater.

Stats from a playthrough of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.Truth recovery: 100% American dollars: 99/100 Play time: 22:52
Stats from my playthrough. Can you beat my time?

Certain elements of the game are randomised for each playthrough. This randomisation leads to the game having some replay value. As a 100% truth recovery is not needed for completion, I wonder what the minimum is. I’d also like to see what 100% speed-runs will look like. Personally I think I’ll need to leave it until I forget a bit more before I could consider going in again. With my memory, about 2 weeks should suffice!

Simogo recently posted on social media to say that no one has yet found a secret hidden in the game. I am half tempted to jump back in now and see what I can find. In truth, I’m amazed I managed to complete the obviously placed puzzles, let alone a secret one that not one of the many smarter players than I have found or solved!

Final Thoughts

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes was fiendishly difficult to put down or stop thinking about. I would load it up even in short 15 minute bursts to try a puzzle solution. If I’d been playing on the Switch it would have accompanied me everywhere. I play a fair few games that have puzzles within them, and if I get stuck for a short time, chances are I’m going to go looking for a solution online.

With this game though, I always felt like either the answer was staring me in the face, and I just needed a little more brain time or power to crack it, or that I had other options to progress. I never felt a sense of frustration, my sense of pride never truly threatened. That’s a really delicate balance to strike, and I think Simogo have nailed it.

I can’t recommend giving this game a go enough. I’ve barely scratched the surface above as I honestly don’t want to give anything away. Do yourself a favour, grab a notebook, pencil and cuppa, and go play it. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes receives the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.

DeveloperSimogo
PublisherAnnapurna Interactive
PlatformsPC, Switch

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