We looked at Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded in a preview two weeks ago, and with the final game now available for purchase it is time see how it stacks up against other fellow adventure games 26 years after the original Larry was released. Is it nothing but a fond memory, or were we right to be excited about Larry’s return?
As we know, Larry isn’t the first classic adventure game to get the HD, reboot or reload-treatment. Guybrush Threepwood and Sam and Max were succesfully updated or adapted to modern systems, setting the bar higher for Larry. As a result, Larry shines in some areas but comes short of the mark in others – and I don’t mean with women.
One major change for the game, in comparison to the original, is that the text-based interface has been replaced with more user-friendly mouse controls. This transition is a smooth one, because not a lot is lost in translation. Fans of the original will recall the witty feedback after an incorrect (or correct, for that matter) command, and despite the loss of this ‘free format’ input method Leisure Suit Larry is still loaded with witty commentary and hilarious remarks. So what it loses in terms of nostalgia it more than makes up for in a fresh new approach to that typical Larry humor.
There is a downside to the change in interface though, and that’s that your lack of freedom (or is it your increased sense of direction?) seems to move you through the game’s storyline at a much quicker pace. This makes Larry Reloaded feel like a rather short adventure, perhaps closer to what we see in recent episodic adventure games than to how we remember the classic adventure games from back in the day.
One might argue that this interface also shows Larry’s lack of depth in terms of gameplay elements, but Larry himself would be the last person to argue that he’s a deep character. To expect multi-layered character development, epic plot twists and intricate character relationships (besides the obvious kind) is to not know what the Larry games are about. Larry is an integral part of the somewhat geeky generation that grew up playing games on their personal and home computers – he may feel a little out of place in the ‘cool’ lineup of Xbox One/PS4 games but stands firm within his own niche.
Games within that niche often contain a familiar theme: humor. It’s this area where Larry shines, and it’s what makes up for Leisure Suit Larry’s shortcomings as a videogame. Larry might not be a ‘cool’ videogame character, but he’s likeable and the game’s subject matter resonates all too well with the game’s target audience. If you remember who were playing videogames using floppy disks and keyboards back in the 80s, you probably get the idea. It’s this specific group of gamers (and their present-day contempories) who are going to enjoy Larry’s latest outing. And it’s very much the same quest it was back in the eighties: Larry desperately looking to be a hit with the ladies despite his obvious shortcomings in the womanizer department.
Your gameplay experience in Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded may not be as intricate and multi-facetted as Skyrim or even Tomb Raider, but what Larry does, it does well. It’s been polished extremely well with high resolution graphics that feature tons of detail, an excellent music score and loads of voiceover work. It’s clearly been a labor of love and is sure to please fans of the original. If you’re new to the series and curious to see what this Larry character is all about, don’t go into it expecting 2013-style gameplay. Instead, relax and enjoy Larry’s capers and the excellent comedy writing that fuels this experience – interactive entertainment that doesn’t pretend to be anything but fun. Replay games’ reboot of the series succeed in the areas it focused on, and it that’s enough for you to overlook its shortcomings then be sure to pick up this game.
Score: 6.9 (originally a 7, but I think Larry would approve)