Adventure games have a wonderful way of putting us in roles that we may normally never find ourselves in. That could be the role of a pirate looking for treasure or a detective looking to solve a crime that seems impossible upfront but Loretta throws all that out of the window. Not all is as it seems and Loretta does a wonderful job of making you care for the main character despite all the flaws we see throughout the story.
Before diving into the review, it is important to note that this game takes place in the 1940’s and the views of the characters reflect that time frame. There are moments with terms and stereotypes that some may find offensive and Loretta makes this known before the title screen even shows.
Loretta follows the story of titular character Loretta, also known as Lora by her friends. She is a stay at home housewife in the 1940’s who is married to a writer named Walter. Their marriage is on the rocks when we start the game. We start in medias res with Lora telling us that she murdered her husband and that we can judge her for her actions but first we need to hear her story. As the story starts to unfold, we find out that Walter was unfaithful to her and had an affair with the waitress in the small diner in town. Pairing this with a rough financial situation and a couple forced to leave their home causes Lora to finally break down. When she decides that it is time to leave, she visits the bank to take out a small loan. Once she becomes aware of the lucrative life insurance policy that was filed in his name, things take a dark turn for the couple.
Gameplay involves guiding Lora through a series of events with endings that can be determined by the player. During dialog, There are occasional moments where you are able to pick the response that Lora will give and this can impact how things play out. For example, the introduction has an option to make the detective a glass of water with him in the room. There is a bottle of rat poison on the counter and you are able to try and poison the detective’s drink. He will see this though and end the game prematurely by shooting Lora. I thought it was a pretty interesting decision to allow the player to try and make such a risky decision right away without having Lora talk herself out of it. Over the course of the story, we are tasked with keeping our story straight in regards to Walter’s “disappearance” and sometimes the wrong dialog option will put you into a corner that you will have to back out of.
As with most adventure games, you will also be required to interact with the environment around you in order to solve some of the puzzles as well. Interacting with different objects in the world will have Lora commenting on the current citation or give a small story about the item. In between chapters are more puzzles but these are more hands-on without any guidance. For instance, there is one that requires you to click on all the negative thoughts and prevent them from reaching the middle of the screen. There is no instruction on what to do and it is up to you to piece it together. Thankfully failing the puzzle only puts you back to the start of it so there is no real time wasted when mistakes are made.
Seeing Lora’s descent into despair and desperation was an interesting story choice since we aren’t playing the usual heroine. Her character has minor changes based on your dialog choices and the ending will change as well so replayability is relatively high for those interested in seeing the other paths play out. I got the winter ending and felt like that was a wonderful way to wrap up such a dreadful story. I clocked in around an hour and a half for my initial playthrough so it shouldn’t take long to see the credits roll for your first playthrough. This is definitely a game to keep an eye out for, especially if you are interested in seeing the story of a not-so-perfect character play out.