[PlayStation 5] LISA: Definitive Edition Review

by EdEN, Owner

LISA: Definitive Edition from Serenity Forge and Dingaling Productions brings us of two solid RPGs revamped for a new generation. Check our LISA: Definitive Edition review!

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LISA: Definitive Edition from Serenity Forge and Dingaling Productions brings us of two solid RPGs revamped for a new generation. The collection includes LISA: The Painful and LISA: The Joyful, which were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. It’s a Rated M for Mature experience in which you’ll explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland known as Olathe. After The Flash, all women have perished, and humanity has no way of reproducing. It’s a game that has some Earthbound influences that make for a very trippy journey.

Because of this catastrophic scenario, many have resorted to using Joy, a powerful – and highly addictive – drug that makes it possible for those who ingest it to feel, well, nothing at all, this numbing their pain in the process. As expected, the drug has some serious side effects, since it turns its users into mindless monsters known as Joy Mutants. The journey will begin during a flashback in which you’ll be controlling main character Bradley Armstrong during some rough but certainly better times many, many moons ago.

After his mom leaves them, his father – one Marty Armstrong – turns his attention toward Bradley and his sister Lisa, unleashing his hatred and anger upon them. You’ll learn more about Bradley and Lisa thanks to a series of flashbacks you’ll experience during your time with LISA: Definitive Edition, with most of your time spent in the future wasteland. Bradley is a middle-aged former martial arts instructor who finds a baby girl out in the wild, which is certainly unexpected! He names her Buddy, and decides to raise her, even if that puts himself, Buddy, and everyone around them in danger.

LISA: Definitive Edition Review - 1

As expected, Buddy ends up being kidnapped, so Bradley goes out on a quest to save her before it’s too late. You’ll be playing the game from a sidescrolling perspective as you run into battle after battle of the turn-based variety in which you’ll need to make the most of Bradley’s abilities… and of the abilities of the dozens of companions he can recruit to the cause. An interesting element is that your companions can end up dying for good due to the choices you make along the way during crucial moments, or from deadly attacks that some enemies can deal along the way, thus cutting their life short. LISA: The Joyful takes place after the events of LISA: The Painful and is a shorter experience that was originally available as DLC. Saying anything else about it would spoil things for you.

Since this collection has Definitive Edition right there in its title, that means we can expect some extra bells and whistles that make this THE way to play through both games, right? That is indeed very much the case for LISA: Definitive Edition. We’re getting support for up to 120 FPS along with new story segments, new enemies and bosses, new quests, multiple endings, new border art overlays for widescreen enjoyment, a new music player with excellent DualSense integration -more on this below – new songs exclusive to this Definitive Edition release, an updated battle system, and even a Painless Mode that allows you to focus on the narrative.

This collection makes excellent use of the features of the DualSense controller. The lights around the TouchPad will change colors as you progress further and further in the story, and the haptic feedback is some of the best I’ve experienced on the console. As an example, early in LISA: The Painful, I was making my way back home when I walked near someone mowing the lawn. The closer I got to it, the more powerful the rumble would get, changing back to a low and faint feedback when I was back to being further away. And when you use the music player, you’ll be able to feel how the DualSense rumbles in time with the beat.

The game can be played in Normal Mode or in Pain Mode. Normal Mode offers the standard experience, balanced to offer a challenge without feeling overwhelming. Pain Mode bumps up the challenge to 11 by offering tougher enemies and bosses that will punish you if you make a mistake in combat. You might also be able to experience some additional content along the way. Unfortunately, Pain Mode limits how many saves you can make, so you’ll need to make every single choice matter, or else!

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Combat is turn-based, which means that once you enter a battle, you’ll have to choose the actions for Bradley and his companions so that they can execute them in order based on their individual agility stats. You can have up to four characters in your party and, just like in old-school RPGs, only characters that are actively participating in battle will be able to gain experience points. Gain enough experience points, and that character will be able to level up, thus receiving a boost to their stats.

When a character levels up, it will improve its overall max HP, max SP – used for unleashing skills and special attacks – attack, defense, special attack, special defense, agility, and luck stats. It might also end up obtaining a new skill or two that can be put to good use in subsequent battles. These stats can end up being lowered if you run into a bad event while resting at a campfire, so you’ll need to consider if you really need to rest, or if you could just carry on with your adventure.

Some characters can use combos when in battle. You can input combos by pressing the Square, Triangle, Circle, and X button. By inputting specific sequences, abilities will be used. You can check these out in the skill menu so that you can know how to perform a special move with a particular sequence. For example, pressing Triangle, Triangle, and X will allow Bradley to perform some Buster Punches.

LISA: Definitive Edition PS5 Review - 3

The trophies for LISA: Definitive Edition are split into two lists: one for LISA: The Painful, and one for LISA: The Joyful. The first one is a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy, while the second one is a shorter list, sans a Platinum. Since this one is a Cross-Buy release, if you have a PlayStation 5, you’ll be able to download both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the collection for twice the trophy hunting fun.

The list for LISA: The Painful includes 54 Bronze trophies, 2 Silver trophies, and 2 Gold trophies, while the list for LISA: The Joyful has 6 Bronze trophies, a single Silver trophy, and 3 Gold trophies. A big chunk of the list for LISA: The Painful will be related to recruiting each of the companions that can join your cause, with a handful of trophies that are missable, including one for completing the game Pain Mode. As for the trophies for LISA: The Joyful, I can’t talk about them without spoiling some of the story twists for LISA: The Painful.

LISA: Definitive Edition brings us a dark and gritty pair of solid post-apocalyptic RPGs that have been revamped for their PlayStation launch. For these RPGs that have been inspired by the trippy side of Earthbound, we’re getting an improved 120 FPS HD presentation, more enemies, more bosses, new story segments, new quests, new border art overlays for widescreen enjoyment, a new music player with excellent DualSense integration, and even songs that are exclusive to this Definitive Edition. LISA: Definitive Edition is available as a Cross-Buy release, so your $24.99 purchase will allow you to download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game at no extra cost.

LISA: Definitive Edition PlayStation 5 Review - 4

This LISA: Definitive Edition review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Serenity Forge.

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