The Lion’s Song takes place in Austria at the beginning of the 20th century. It is comprised of four separate episodes, each with their own protagonist and unique story. In each chapter, you’ll control a different character. All of them are having one thing in common: they struggle with something in life.
The first episode (Silence) begins with Wilma, a young composer and new prodigy playing her violin. Struggling with inspiration and herself, her mentor sends her to a cabin in the mountains. With one intention; her teacher Arthur hopes that her muse will meet her again in the beautiful scenery outside of Vienna. Wilma is supposed to compose her last piece and depending on your choices, she will not only maybe discover the completion of it but also new relationships.
Franz has the focus on the second episode (Anthology) and here, you will actually explore a bit deeper into psychology. You are also able to meet famous people which I am sure you will recognize, even though you are not from Austria. In this chapter, the young artist Franz struggles with himself and not being able to fully access his full potentials.
Emma is the stunning protagonist of the third episode (Derivation). She has a bright mind with high ambitions and is truly someone that makes a great example to follow. Since mathematics is mostly dominated by men, this librarian takes a bold attempt to follow her dream. She eventually proves that the male gender are not the only ones that can actually calculate.
The final episode (Closure) brings us closer to a protagonist named Albert (Bert for short). He is on a train ride and makes acquaintances with three other men. While interviewing them, you learn more about their previous life and also why they share the same train compartment with you. Bit by bit, you will find out more about these men: Otto, Paul and Theodor. You will also learn about yourself and the reason for the journey.
All of the episodes stand alone but at the same time they have fine threads of story interwoven from one another and I had fun discovering all the little connections.
The opinion of what genre The Lion’s Song belongs to might vary. I read about it being a point-and-click game but I want to respectfully argue against that. To me, essential to point-and-click games is the combining of two (maybe more) items to cause an effect and keep the ball rolling. Here, you are limited to interactions and also, you are always told what to do. The aspects of solving easy puzzles to proceed are also missing. That is just my point of view but I would like to further express the genre I tend to think it is next.
The Lion’s Song is a narrative adventure game, meaning you interact with your environment. Clicking an object causes it to be highlighted and will allow you to have an action with it. Either your character will comment on it or it will start to progress on the story. You have to look out for things to make solid progress in the game.
The controls are not very complex. For example, the left analog stick lets you move the cursor; a little hand. Even during some cutscenes and dialogue, you were actually able to move it. Don’t worry, you could not cancel the current discussion by clicking on items or people. The A button selects a choice or prompts the character to take a closer look at something… or someone.
The given choices are, like in so many other games like this, of a mixed nature. What I mean by that is you can actually make an impact or you are just given the feeling to do so. No criticism here, though. Writing and making everything different just because a character says “A” or “B” instead of “X” would guide the writer into a forest of words where they will most likely never navigate out of. This is just a gentle warning that you will encounter the same dialogue after you had chosen a different option from your first play-through. I want to state that it will only be noticeable if you replay the episodes directly after you had finished.
Just like Telltale games, you are given the option to view all of your decisions at the end of an episode. What’s different with The Lion’s Song is you can immediately jump to one of the major paths that lead you in different directions to make another decision.
Either way, the game is highly enjoyable, even though you might replay right after the first attempt. I found myself reading and reading until I almost fell asleep with my Switch. That makes a statement, doesn’t it?
The interactions each character has with her or his environment make them feel believable and real. I loved the different thematics of the individual episodes and how cleverly the developer built bridges to waltz the player from one story to another. I never felt lost or questioned the individual paths of each of them. Every chapter taught me something, made you think about life, the consequences and of relationships.
Starting with the story of Wilma, the game gently takes you by the hand and introduces you to probably the “easiest” of the four. In my opinion, it is the one with the “lightest” content provided. You move up to the last episode and that ties everything together at last. Like I said, all of the stories stand by themselves but also are somehow connected. How? Well, I leave that for you to find out for yourself…
Completing each story will let you revisit the choices you make in the “Connections Gallery”. Kudos to Mi’pu’mi Games here as the summary of the individual play-through as well as the credit section after each chapter is cleverly and uniquely displayed.
A tiny side-note from me: it was an absolute blast to see German words squeeze their way into the game since the story takes place in Vienna, Austria. You encountered words in my native language in some shops or from dialogues with people. Nothing too major though; even though you are not familiar with the language, it isn’t essential to the story. Just a nice little addition and a quirk of the game’s character to remind you where it originally came from. Maybe just like me with my “different” style of English?
*This review was written by Jennifer for switchwatch.co.uk.
Providing the word “song” in the title, I had high expectations. Even higher ones than I normally do. I also think that the most famous classical musician Mozart, who died in Vienna, was somehow inspirational to the game.
The Lion’s Song provides you with beautiful music and treats you with silence and some sound effects when the developer team thought it would be necessary. I loved the orchestral ending theme and listened to it even while I wrote this review. Enjoying Wilma’s profession, it was a pleasure to form pieces of music as a whole at the beginning.
The Lion’s Song is soothing to your ears and hits the notes perfectly. Sound effects are on point and crisp but never overwhelming, just as I like them.
Visuals and Performance
The visuals were, to be honest, the biggest thing that called out to me when I saw The Lion’s Song on the eShop. It sat there like a bird coloured in sepia among a bunch of parrots. Although, good old Jen does enjoy those colourful titles! You might have guessed that by all my previous reviews.
I absolutely adore the classy tones here and I am fond of the minimalism as well. It fits with the atmosphere and is a bold attempt, given the time period and message the titles want to spread. Sepia with other quiet tones seemed to be the one and only option here.
With having a fine-grained pixel effect, The Lion’s Song has a nice style that appeared to me as a retro game. It performed well on both handheld and TV mode. The only disappointment was that you could not use the touchscreen. Given that this game is available on smartphones, it would have been a nice choice. It absolutely is no necessity though, just a convenience to interact with an object sometimes. No performance issues here either.
Dropping with a price of $9.99 USD and £9.99 GBP in the eShop, one question remains. Is this title from Mi’pu’mi Games worth your money?
Again, I have to say maybe. I am, of course, aware of the fact that not everyone might enjoy such a title since it is heavily story driven and you have to read a lot. Don’t fancy a visual book with some choices to make and brief sections you can poke around in the environment? Hands off, then!
The game will, depending on how long you inspect the world around you and consider your decisions, be around 5 to 7 hours long. With different results to discover, there is also a replay value. Thanks to no skipping function, your playthrough will be longer when replaying it. Since the stories are interesting, I highly see players to pick up the game again to be “more evil” or “a better person”.
*A review copy of The Lion’s Song was provided to SwitchWatch by Mi’pu’mi Games.
Beautiful and elegant soundtrack
Thoughtful story writing
You have to like story driven games with lots of text
Wished some choices would be a little more important