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Review: The Prince of Landis

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Your childhood should be a wonderful thing. The world is still full of mystery and wonderment, and you should have a carefree existence. Unfortunately, however, what is supposed to happen rarely does and many obstacles stand in the way of true happiness. The Prince of Landis explores the cruel and dark side of child neglect and bullying. This may seem heavy and depressing, but there is a light at the end of this miserable tunnel.

Developed by Lorestrome and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a horror exploration adventure title. Utilising visual novel dialogue and a sci-fi theme, this odd game will confuse and intrigue you. It opens with a warning about culturally appropriate language that players may turn off if this offends them. I loved this sensible approach and applaud the developers for allowing their player base to decide.

The Prince of Landis blends its elements brilliantly.

When an indie game experiments with multiple genres, it usually ends in disaster. Fortunately, though, The Prince of Landis blends its elements perfectly. Its dark story is brilliantly juxtaposed by the sci-fi theme, while the story-driven exploration distracts you from the oppressive plot. The mechanics are cleverly intertwined and they create a challenging, chilling, and well-paced story. You must unravel the mystery by listening to the clues while searching for quest critical objects.

Set in America in the 1980s, the choice of language and social relationships is a painful experience. Yet, they work brilliantly with the theme and story. The use of the words “Fag and Pussy”, and other derogatory terms, belittles the protagonist and this helps to build rapport and empathy. This was an intelligent move, as the heavy sci-fi influences could have undermined the touching and hard-hitting moments.

I’d probably run away.

You are not alone.

The Prince of Landis has taught me to always be kind, no matter the situation. When an alien crash lands into your backyard, most people would run a mile. Evan, on the other hand, has other ideas! He assists the extraterrestrial in his quest to repair his ship. You soon discover that one good deed deserves another as the alien helps Evan to overcome his bullies.

Sadly, the alien’s advice isn’t free and here is where the puzzle and exploration moments kick in. You must explore the small wintry map to scour for objects that’ll progress the story. The game cleverly drip-feeds new items into each area and this ensures that you’ll search each location with fresh eyes. This simple idea prevented the gameplay from becoming stale and increased longevity.

Sleep, wake, go to school, repeat.

The story revolves around Evan’s everyday routine and this potentially could have been boring. However, the brilliantly written story and touching subject stopped it from becoming tiresome. The early sympathy and rapport created for the protagonist ensure you want to see him defeat his bullies, or discover whether the alien is more sinister than it appears.

The combination of every element shouldn’t have worked, yet I couldn’t put it down. Though there was a considerable amount of back and forth as you gathered quest items, this never bothered me. However, the complexities of the puzzles were low, so this balanced the high amount of wandering to and fro. If you are looking for a challenging puzzle title, you’ll be disappointed. But, if you want a story-driven adventure with light puzzling moments, then The Prince of Landis is for you.

Someone looks pleased with themselves.

The Prince of Landis takes simplicity to another level.

I admire the developers’ love of the 80s and their pixelated world with dated imagery captures it perfectly. The Prince of Landis lacks detail and finesse, but it’s still great to look at. Its simplicity is taken to another level, as its minimalist approach dominates proceedings. The wintry world is beautifully presented and the isolation of this small town is evident from the off.

The presentation may have been basic, but the cinematic and dialogue stood out for me. It was fascinating to watch the relationship evolve between the alien and Evan, even though it was a little bizarre. I also enjoyed the Spectrum style text that delivers the dialogue in an old-school visual novel manner.

The eerie isolation and minimalist approach weren’t restricted to just the graphics. No, the audio joined in too. With vast moments of nothingness, you have plenty of time to think. Its empty world is uncomfortable to explore and the lack of acting works brilliantly. Using only written words to convey the speech could have been a step too far. Yet, The Prince of Landis balances every layer appropriately to deliver its raw and powerful message.

Can you find anything useful here?

Old-school game, retro controls.

With rigid movement and limited controls, this captures old-school gaming to a tee. Subsequently, it’s a little uncomfortable to play, and the responsiveness is reduced considerably. These issues could be perceived as problematic, yet they don’t impact the game and they somehow add to the dated charm.

If you have a logical mind, you’ll fly through this! Its short playtime was disappointing, though there is some replay value thanks to the missable achievements. Moreover, this list is unusually large for an indie title, yet it detracts from the main story. Sadly, many of the achievements are gained through random interactions that force you to spam the A button. This undermines much of the brilliance of the game and adds to the lack of finesse.

The Prince of Landis is surprisingly touching despite its heavy theme.

With such a heavy theme, I expected this to be dull and depressing. I was wrong. Instead, it was refreshing and insightful with a brilliant sci-fi twist. Saving an alien to help yourself is cathartic and oddly enjoyable. I didn’t expect to like this, however, I really did and I recommend you to buy it here! Being bullied is soul-destroying, but only you can stop it! Uncover your inner strengths and take that bully down once and for all.

SUMMARY

The Prince of Landis is a strange puzzle adventure title with a heavy and dark theme. It has interesting but basic puzzles and a unique story-driven questline. You will meet some colourful characters and experience harsh and belittling language. It's an interesting title that captures your imagination while keeping you hooked from start to finish.

+ The minimalist approach enhances the feeling of isolation.
+ The lack of acting was an excellent choice.
+ Wonderful retro visual novel dialogue.
+ Simple controls.
+ Some replay value.
- The achievements detract from the gameplay.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Review: The Prince of LandisThe Prince of Landis is a strange puzzle adventure title with a heavy and dark theme. It has interesting but basic puzzles and a unique story-driven questline. You will meet some colourful characters and experience harsh and belittling language. It's an interesting title that captures your imagination while keeping you hooked from start to finish.<br/> <br/> + The minimalist approach enhances the feeling of isolation.<br/> + The lack of acting was an excellent choice.<br/> + Wonderful retro visual novel dialogue.<br/> + Simple controls.<br/> + Some replay value.<br/> - The achievements detract from the gameplay.<br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)<br/>