The Let's Play Archive

The Lady

by Chokes McGee

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Original Thread: Coming to you live from inside Kyoon's head: Let's Play "The Lady"



I'm presenting this video LP without commentary of any kind. This is an experience, not something to be babbled over. Write-ups will come in the following post, but watch the videos before reading that.

I will say one thing before we start: This game's psychological horror is at its best when you're playing it yourself. You have no idea what's going on, what you're supposed to be doing, or what's coming next. Watching the LP will ruin this for you. Go pick it up on Steam and play it first, it's dirt cheap and worth every penny.

If you absolutely must have someone play it for you, then buckle up. We're going to the Dark Place on this one.

The Lady - Questions & Answers

What the fuck just happened?

The Lady is a surrealistic psychological horror action/puzzle game. (Phew, that's a lot of adjectives.) Created by indie developer MPR Art, it was released on Steam around the end of 2014 and/or beginning of 2015. The controls are simple; the game is often described as "brutally difficult," but only in the sense of the abstract and bizarre puzzles. The actual action sequences are rather easy—outside of a particular section of Anxiety.

No. No, seriously. What the fuck just happened?

Oh! You mean the story.

The Lady follows the titular protagonist through her struggles with what appears to be schizophrenia. I am 100% serious. Through the magical powers of surrealism, it puts you, the player, in the shoes of a woman suffering from extreme mental illness. The vast majority of the game's horror—which is actually more pervasive, unsettling dissonance than outright scares—comes from the alien experience. In order to simulate a woman trying to figure out what's in her own head, all you get to go on is a vague list of controls, and then off you go into the wonderful world of acid fever dreams. Good luck!

The puzzle aspects of this game come from interacting with the environment and figuring out how to get through the game's various levels, although you probably won't figure out where the level breaks are until you've passed the first few. Death and game over screens seem to come out of nowhere, the protagonist has no visible life gauge (outside of boss fights), and there's little or no indication how to interact with the bizarre environment other than to poke at it and hope for the best. The run above is pretty much picture-perfect outside of a purposeful wrong turn in Self-Harm and a botched attempt at Anxiety. A blind first trip through will not go nearly as smoothly.

(The level names shown here aren't official, by the way. They're just convenient tags for each of the environments.)

What is this LP doing here? Shouldn't you be off somewhere making jokes about near-ancient RPGs?

The Lady is a very short gaming experience once you know what you're doing, so it was an LP I could get out the door in a matter of hours. Besides that, this is an overlooked (and inexpensive) game that I have a particular soft spot for. It does a fantastic job of communicating the horrors of mental illness without uttering a single word. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia... if you've heard of it, The Lady has it on display. It's disturbing and freaky the first time through, but after you have time to think about it, it's just... sad. Sad, bleak, and lonely.

The hell is up with the Space Invaders thing?

No idea. I'm guessing it was put in for maximum factor. Personally, I think it's really jarring and out of place, and not in a good way.

What's with the ending? idgi

She didn't make it.

More specifically, she committed suicide by slashing her wrists. The vulture stalking her in "Depression" was Death. It finally caught up to her, and she couldn't take it anymore.

Not everything in life has a happy ending, I'm sorry to say.

Late Edit: After chatting with the creator on Steam, it seems the ending was meant to be far more ambiguous. "What does it meant to you" is kind of a storytelling cop out IMO, but since we're dealing with the Crazy Train to Crazytown, I suppose it works.

I need a hug now.

Yeah. This game has that effect on people. If you want to make yourself feel a little better, though, I encourage you to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They're good people who do good work.

Okay, that's it for me. Hope you enjoyed this brief little foray out of my comfort zone. I'll be back to posting dumb RPG stuff here shortly.
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