Lisa: Pain is one of those games like… if you know, You know. You know? Like, it’s cruel, stomach-churning, and soul-destroying. I’m joking but not kidding? I don’t know what it is about RPG maker games, but they’re just different.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world without women, you play as Brad, who one day finds an abandoned baby girl, names her Buddy, and raises her in secret. Years later, Buddy is kidnapped by a group of militiamen and Brad sets out to rescue her. When you put it like that, the story is pretty basic, but it’s more than you think. A world of absurdist humor coupled with terrible decisions that force you to make this a particularly bleak RPG genre.
Many of the decisions you have to make are centered around the group of freaks you’ve recruited. Your party members can be permanently killed by bosses whose moves – completely unfair – to death. You’ll pay a pretty penny for a completely useless item. Your entire party could be caught and forced into a game of Russian roulette for the militia to chuckle. Based on your choices as a player, Brad can lose one or both arms causing his attack stats to plummet. Boost your party with a ‘joy’ potion that will boost their abilities but also potentially turn them into beanbags filled with human flesh and bone scraps. It’s all about sacrifice, but at what cost?
However, there are also moments of absurdist humor. You are minding your business when a cola van comes from nowhere and crashes into your group, seriously injuring you. A lord with mohawk hair and leather armor will rush into battle on the cutest, smallest deer and greet Brad with a “Good morning”. It just feels like the game is constantly trying to play against you.
Lisa: Pain is much. Brad’s story is both a rescue mission but also a story of redemption, and it’s what drains him and pushes him to bad decisions (through player actions). I haven’t played it since it came out, but it left a lasting impression on me so it must mean something. There’s a reason it’s rated ‘Extremely Positive’ on Steam (with 11,000 reviews).