A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lion's Song is an episodic narrative adventure game set in the early years of the 20th century. It explores mature topics like war, sexism, professional rivalries, and identity crises. Sexuality is addressed through a mild love scene, representations of nudity in the art of Gustav Klimt, and a woman cross-dressing as a man. Characters at a party are shown drinking wine, and one character is shown constantly smoking cigars.
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What's it about?
THE LION'S SONG takes place in Vienna during World War I. At that time, Vienna was a cultural giant, a city known for its classical music, art nouveau, and Sigmund Freud's new science, psychoanalysis. In four separate chapters, you're asked to help different creative people overcome professional obstacles through a series of tough choices. Along the way, you'll also help each hero defeat his or her personal demons. Gameplay mainly involves talking to people and noticing things, with the occasional easy puzzle.
Is it any good?
The term "pixel art" probably conjures images of blocky Minecraft-style artwork, but this visually sophisticated app blows that idea out of the water like a World War I tank. Done in nostalgic sepia tone, it succeeds in building a vibrant, emotionally charged interactive experience through the simplest of means: compelling characters and a great story. Each of the four chapters is an intimate peek into the life of one person: a composer, an artist, a mathematician, and a journalist, each in personal crisis. The composer's got writer's block, the artist has blackouts, the mathematician isn't taken seriously because she's a woman, and the journalist has family issues. As thematically complex as The Lion's Song is, gameplay is simple. With limited exploration and forgiving puzzles, this is more interactive novel than traditional adventure game. That said, the choices you make aren't easy ones and may lead to a bad end. The good news is, if things play out in a way you don't like, chapters can be quickly and easily replayed for a better (or at least different) result. Players will marvel as serious ideas about love, loss, duty, and aspiration are poetically illustrated inside the framework of the First World War. Really, as far as an adventure game raising important ethical questions goes, you can't do better than this.
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