Music that has yet to be written. A composer struggling with inspiration. An elusive melody hidden in… Silence.
Developer: Mi’pu’mi Games
Publisher: Mi’pu’mi Games
Rating: T for Teen
Release Date: July 7, 2016
Price: First episode is free. Season pass is £8.99 or $9.99
I recently had the chance to play really quite a beautiful indie title by the name of The Lion’s Song, developed by ‘Mi’pu’mi Games’. ‘The Lion’s Song’ is an episodic point and click game in which each episode the player will take control of a distinct protagonist, all of whom pursue careers in vastly different creative fields. Only the very first episode is currently available on with the latter episodes promised to arrive later this year. I admit that going in I was not really what to expect. With the first episode being available at no cost, I certainly did not expect the level of quality that it delivered.
When you hear “point-and-click” you undoubtedly think of classic adventure games such as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, or perhaps the more recent Telltale Games. ‘The Lion’s Song’ is not an adventure game; it certainly takes inspiration from these titles but I believe it would be better described as an interactive story. Perhaps in future installments, the game will return to its more conventional roots, however, as is I would say it sits somewhere between the classic adventure game and an interactive novel.
Mi’pu’mi is a somewhat unknown team, based in Vienna, composed of industry veterans with experience in both the AAA and the Indie scenes, as well as relative newbies to game development. ‘The Lion’s Song’ is their first original IP, however, the team has previously worked with Io-Interactive to develop the newest Hitman title. Despite their obscurity, Mi’pu’mi has a lot of experience under their belt, experience that they have used to produce a very creative game with a lot to enjoy.
In ‘The Lion’s Song’, we play as Wilma, a talented young music student and aspiring composer. Wilma has moved away from her family to live and study in the city of Vienna, the capital of Austria. With the help of her mentor and patron, Arthur Caban (whom she is rather taken with), Wilma is beginning to make somewhat of a ripple in the music scene her unique style, which Arthur considers to be modern and revolutionary.
The problem Wilma faces and is the focus of the game, is that she has found herself with a severe case of writer’s block, undoubtedly caused by pressure and stress which is a recurring theme throughout the game. Arthur suggests that she stay at his solitary cabin to rest, recuperate, and find the inspiration needed to complete her newest, and greatest, symphony. Shortly thereafter we find ourselves in the Austrian mountains, gazing down into a picturesque valley, a dense army of fir trees stand to attention, charged with the fortification of the lonely wooden cabin that rests at the very center of the horde.
At this point, the game truly begins. Wilma may find inspiration in anything, from the wild storm that rages outside and keeps her a prisoner within the cabin, to her mentor, and secret love’s, private correspondences, and perhaps even a new acquaintance she makes over the phone. Whatever you decide to spend your time doing each day will shape Wilma’s magnum opus, which can be heard in full at the concert Arthur has organised for Wilma in her absence. Wilma will also be faced with several choices throughout her stay at the mountain cabin, the consequences of which will become apparent in future installments.
At about forty-five minutes from beginning to end, ‘The Lion’s Song’ is not a long game. Despite this, however, I found myself caring deeply for the characters, I found myself invested in the plot, I found that I desperately wanted Wilma to succeed. Surely if a game can make me feel this way in such a short period of time then the writing must be fairly remarkable, and the storytelling must be exceptional.
‘The Lion’s Song’ is a point-and-click game, and as such, the mechanics and gameplay are rather limited. Most of my time was spent clicking through a torrent of text, punctuated by the occasional choice between two or three dialogue options. As a man who has spent at least a hundred, rather blissful, hours playing and replaying ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ text games on his phone, this did not pose much of an issue. However, I can imagine how this could indeed pose quite a major issue for gamers who prefer a far greater emphasis on gameplay, or younger players with shorter attentions spans. As such, if you fit into either of these categories then, chances are, this is not the game for you.
The true point-and-click aspect emerges once you arrive at the cabin. However, all that this involves is moving the cursor around the screen in search of anything that can be interacted with. This is very simplistic gameplay, even for a point-and-click game, and is unlikely to prove overly entertaining for the types of gamer I mentioned earlier. However, I feel that this simplistic gameplay brought me closer to Wilma as a character; with me frantically searching the entirety of the small cabin for any object to interact with and is not dissimilar to Wilma frantically searching the entirety of the small cabin for anything that could spark some inspiration within her. Therefore, while the gameplay is far from exciting, and you are unlikely to find yourself at the edge of your seat, I believe it is appropriate for the game.
For the art style, Mi’pu’mi have gone for a very nice pixel design with a monotone brown colour scheme. These choices help to create and old-fashioned motif throughout the game, which is appropriate as ‘The Lion’s Song’ is set in the past. The colour scheme is particularly effective as the monotone brown is reminiscent of old photographs.
The animations in this game are really quite beautiful, especially for a pixel game. I know from experience how difficult it is to animate using this style but the devs clearly did not let this hold them back in the slightest; the animations are incredibly intricate and, in many cases, exceptionally lifelike. Whoever was in charge of art and design for ‘The Lion’s Song’ has certainly outdone themselves.
Being a game centred around an aspiring musician I am sure you can imagine how important sound would be, and Mi’pu’mi did not disappoint. When there is background music it is appropriate and atmospheric without being obtrusive. The ambient sounds, from violent storms and creaking wooden beams, to the pitter-patter of rain against a window, are all very realistic. So realistic that the latter was enough to make me shiver from a non-existent chill. Perhaps best of all, the music fragments throughout are alluring, and the symphony at the end is simply beautiful.
In terms of performance, ‘The Lion’s Song’ is not a demanding game by any stretch of the imagination and ran without a hitch from beginning to end. You could probably play this game on a toaster, assuming you could connect a monitor.
The game’s settings menu is very limited; it offers only two volume sliders and a language selector. This is less of an issue as the game is so easy to run, however, it is rather disappointing that not so much as the resolution can be altered manually.