The story of Wilma, a musician.
The Lion’s Song, a new point-and-click adventure from Mi’pu’mi Games, recently released its first episode for free on Steam. It follows a young, up and coming violinist named Wilma as she struggles to complete a composition on time for a big performance. The plot is set in early 1900’s Vienna.
The first thing I noticed about the game was its charming visuals. Like many point-and-click adventures, the story is told through a series of scenes. The first one in The Lion’s Song is of a train platform, with a city looming in the background. The colors in this first scene, and throughout the others in the game, are a combination of dark reds, grays, and yellows.
After that first scene, we’re thrown pretty quickly into the plot. Wilma is in a room waiting for her professor, Andrew, to arrive, and it’s revealed almost immediately that she has something of a crush on him. When Andrew arrives, he commends Wilma on her recent musical success and pressures her about when her next composition will be ready. Wilma admits that she’s stuck and doesn’t know how to finish what she is working on. Andrew offers to lend her his cabin in the Alps so she can have some peace and quiet to work.
The majority of the game play takes place in this cabin. Wilma is faced with numerous distractions and anxieties as she attempts to finish her piece in time. There are multiple ways for her to make headway on her work, depending on what the player clicks on in her small window-side work space. Wilma can block out noisy distractions once their source is identified, like creaky boards, and a ticking pocket watch. Once Wilma is able to focus, you must identify other sources of inspiration that Wilma can draw on for her composition.
One thing I appreciated, as a writer, was the various ways that Wilma could gain ideas. These varied from poetry, to old letters, to the sounds happening around her. This felt fairly authentic to the creative process (or mine, anyway), as it relies on multiple interdisciplinary sources.
Another level of Wilma’s experience at the cabin has to do with anxiety. She has a lot of pressure on her to make something great, not to mention the limited amount of time she has at her disposal. The sound and visuals aid a lot in creating an anxiety-ridden atmosphere. The text, which appears on screen to display dialogue and monologue, occasionally takes on a vibrating quality. This happens particularly with words and phrases that seem to stress Wilma out–and she is easily stressed. As a player, though, I tended to feel stressed out alongside Wilma. When things got too overwhelming, her heartbeat would beat loudly, or the phone would ring in a shrill manner.
Speaking of the phone, Wilma occasionally receives a call from a strange friend named Leos. I won’t spoil too much about the interactions with him, but I will say that the conversations are a strong source of value in the game. I played through the short plot a few times, testing out different decisions and outcomes, and I found that engaging with Leos offers the most meaningful conclusion to the game. However, besides very slight changes in narrative, there isn’t much difference to the game outcome if you take a different approach. All the player is really in control of is what order they interact with objects to create the composition.
Wilma is presented as being in a somewhat complex situation with her obvious anxiety issues, the stress of performance, and a possibly budding relationship with an authority figure in her life. However, we never get a full conclusion to some of the most intriguing parts of her life and character. This is beneficial in some ways, as it leaves Wilma’s path and future open for the player to contemplate. On the other hand, it removes urgency and curiosity from the gameplay. Much of what drove me in my first play through was wondering how things would work out for Wilma. After learning that very little is revealed in the end and that the next episode (not yet released) doesn’t even continue Wilma’s story, I was significantly less invested in my decisions as a player in my second run through.
All of this would be fine if the story itself were a bit more fleshed out. Not all point-and-click adventures have to offer play through diversity or weight of character choice. Sometimes it’s nice to just experience a story. Unfortunately, the story in the first episode of The Lion’s Song was pretty bare bones. Plus, some of themes really beat you over the head, such as finding happiness in yourself and not others. Important, to be sure–still, a little subtlety never hurt anyone.
All things considered, The Lion’s Song debut episode isn’t bad, just lacking. I’m hopeful that the next episodes will be a bit more interesting, and I would certainly be willing to give the next one a try once it releases on Steam. The visuals are quite pleasing, and the audio is used in an interesting manner. If none of that grabs your attention, don’t forget: it’s free.