In the dark antechamber leading to release, Michael Patrick Rogers gives us a tease of his nightmarish project, The Lady, set for full release some time in the summer. This seems a little ironic, as The Lady places you in cold, desolate detention and the sun certainly isn’t shining. No, rather you are confined to a tortured subconscious, an exacerbating fever lined up with grotesque apparitions of yourself in all your constrained, armless glory. As the Lady herself, you must dispel these vile incarnations and ultimately defeat your most belligerent form, waiting for you at the end of the formless, shattered maze you’ve been confined to.
As The Lady is just a demo right now, it’s exciting to imagine what else is in store for our pony-tailed protagonist. No semblance of plot is revealed yet, but the impressive visual narrative style places a deliciously ambiguous spin on as to what exactly is taking place. You find yourself traversing roads of broken glass, brushing aside a carnival-like troupe of apathetic doppelgangers and sidestepping strands of manifesting barbed wire to complete each room and proceed through the game. You go about clearing your path with your convulsing head, shooting out ghostly images of your face like a freaky bullet at whatever it is you’re trying to smack, and you can do so in 3 cardinal directions (all but down). In a decidedly old-school fashion, the nightmare is explored in a 2D landscape, with appropriately surreal hand-drawn art rich with a bizarre, abrasive, Salad Fingers-esque horror vibe. Your primary antagonist at this point seems to be yourself, but it tickles my tummy at the thought that somewhere a 3rd party enters this internal conquest. An abusive lover, a best friend’s suicide, a history with addiction; you can’t help but get curious as to what exactly is wrong with the Lady and who she is, but it’d be great if it were conveyed in the same cinematic, visual narration as the demo seems to be going for.
“Combat,” or whatever you call swatting ugly things with your head, is simple. But, the demo’s ending boss sequence proves that a certain technical potential exists, if fully realized. When the game gains a faster pace towards the end, it’s exciting in the same way the old-school games the developers are paying homage to were exciting, and when the game gets more subdued, the game plays out like a modern-day artsy experimental project, building on moody atmosphere and tension. Though minimal from a gameplay standpoint, The Lady certainly has the potential to exploit that minimal approach with its assorted puzzles and “combat” sequences for a game that’s both driven by atmosphere and capable of delivering a hearty challenge as well.
The campaign has a list of perks and rewards given to those who back this project, from the PC only version of the game, to a poster and to having your name in the game credits.
If you want to test the game or possibly fund the project, check out the Indiegogo campaign ending on March 2nd. The Lady is also on the Steam Community Greenlight list, so if you like the game show your support there.
Written by: Kevin Kurber