College student Dawn, one of the titular Lovely Little Thieves, is not a happy camper. She’s being plagued by dark, disturbing dreams on what is supposed to be a relatively carefree road trip to Florida with a group of friends. But when has any simple road trip ever gone according to plan in a horror story? After getting stuck in the middle of the woods, our hapless protagonists are left with no choice but to venture into the woods and a foreboding haunted house, where their fates await them…
Once the full version comes out, that is.
I’ll keep this review relatively brief and step outside the usual set-up format, since this is for the demo version of the game. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see the story’s roots in the slasher horror genre. A car carrying a group of college students on a road trip breaks down in the middle of the woods, and the naïve, virginal heroine is paired up with her sassy and bolstering best friend. However, what stands out to me is that while this game does contain elements of this subgenre, it also references gothic horror, supernatural/paranormal horror, and psychological horror.
While these elements can be widely different, here they are presented in a manner that makes sense as part of a cohesive whole. It’s still too early to see how precisely these elements will tie in together, but so far they’re balanced very well.
The demo mainly focuses on establishing the relationships between the characters. Russell and Randy act like they’ve been friends for years, Jay’s a mysterious outsider, and Danielle and Colin are convincing siblings. Dawn’s relationships with each of them are more or less up to the player. Before the player can determine how she relates to the others, and if she’s going to be romantically attached at all, he or she must establish what sort of person Dawn is first, and then see whom she naturally gravitates toward (and vice versa) as a result. This fresh approach makes it more sophisticated, since it displays a more adult understanding of how a romantic relationship actually works, and I hope to see the end results of this done right.
The demo does a good job of establishing a sense of foreboding and introducing our protagonist. Right away, the picture I get is that something is not entirely right with Dawn. She’s very scared and insecure of herself, and it is precisely her lack of understanding that leads, in part, to her own fears. However, the narration is also mildly repetitive at times, using words like “cold” and “rumbling” over and over to describe Dawn’s dreams and any time something goes slightly off-kilter.
Overall, the dream sequences showcase the narration at its best. They’re descriptive, yet also leave enough room to the imagination, and make you wonder what’s going on. Who is this mysterious figure? Why is Dawn getting these visions? And just what does this particular house have to do with it all?
That is a mystery to be solved for the full version…