Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry review (PC)

Revitalizing the franchise, but certainly not for the first time, is Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry. Here’s our review of Larry’s latest antics.

Published by Assemble and developed by CrazyBunch, Wet Dreams Don’t Dry is the first new Larry game in almost ten years (not counting the “Reloaded” remake of the first game). If you consider that Box Office Bust and Magna Cum Laude didn’t star Larry Laffer, it’s actually been over 20 years since a proper sequel came out.

As much as I enjoyed the classic Larry games by Al Lowe (dating back to 1987), the announcement of Wet Dreams Don’t Dry was met with both excitement and skepticism. The two “Larry Lovage” titles we got since 1996’s Love for Sail weren’t exactly stellar, Al Lowe wasn’t going to be involved, and CrazyBunch didn’t exactly have a strong track record to fall back on yet.

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And yet, I was eager to meet the guys at CrazyBunch, which I did back in August. After a brief talk/presentation, we went into some gameplay, which immediately showed the direction they were going for. Some encouraging signs, and some worrying ones – and both have translated to the full game, although the positives outweigh the negatives.

What CrazyBunch seems to have realized very well is that a lot of the reason why Larry endures is sentiment. For many older gamers, including myself, this goes back to the eighties, where a Larry game meant exploring “adult” content when you weren’t supposed to (yet). Even getting into the game was a challenge, as it presented you with an age check – a series of trivia questions to determine if you were old enough to play. The suspense and anticipation really made the game, because there wasn’t really anything explicit in the game or dialogue. And that importance of anticipation in many ways also rings true for Larry, whom Al Lowe has dubbed “the original 40 year old virgin” or the inspiration for “Duece Bigalow” in the past (including in an interview we did a few years ago).

CrazyBunch is well aware of Larry’s legacy and charm, and that the games were meant to be funny more than anything. Although also a 2D adventure, Larry walked a different walk than Guybrush Threepwood, Sam and Max or the Maniac Mansion/Day of the Tentacle crew. The narrative, the supporting characters… they never seemed be as well developed, and they didn’t need to be. So how did CrazyBunch appeal to this sentiment and Larry’s legacy? One’s pretty obvious, and it’s the fact that they brought Jan Rabson back – the voice actor who dubbed Larry over twenty years ago when speech was introduced to the franchise.

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Another way that Wet Dreams Don’t Dry gets its hooks into longtime fans is that it doesn’t waste any time visiting iconic locations from the first game, which immediately makes the game more appealing than it’s more recent “spin-off” titles that lacked all of the right context. Larry Laffer mysteriously time travels from the past and wakes up in the present day, and finds himself heading into Lefty’s famous bar. This was the opening sequence for the first game – and possibly the only part some gamers will remember if they weren’t comfortable figuring out the game’s text-based input mechanism.

This system (the norm during most of the eighties) was ditched many years ago, and Wet Dreams Don’t Dry features a more modern interface – typical of present day adventure titles. Larry himself hasn’t changed much though, but the time travel element makes him completely out of sync with reality – even more so than was the case back in 1987. Stunned by the notion of a smart phone, a conversation with a young lady quickly starts up – Larry of course awkwardly trying to woo her. This is the point where the writing started to worry me a little bit though….

Within the span of three minutes, I had probably seen 10 or so jokes based on wordplay. Apple was called Prune, Instagram was Instacrap, Tinder was Timber, Burning Man was Flaming Dude, there’s a tech guy called Bill Jobs, etc. Honestly, it felt like a little much, as if the humor was too forced and as if the writers felt pressure to cramp at least two jokes into every line of text. I had the experience during the August demo, and it happened again with the final game, but luckily things get a bit more toned down and less forced after you’re been playing a while and get past the first few scenes.

As you unlock more of the city, you get to travel more, which means opportunities to raise your Timber score – which in this day and age (or at least in this game) is the key to the woman of your dreams’ heart (did I say heart?). Other than that, it’s a game that’s a good throwback to the classic adventure game – finding and combining objects, getting stumped by obtuse puzzles, etc. There are way better designed stories and puzzles in the genre – but I suppose that’s Larry’s curse.

Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry wants to be funny, and mostly succeeds. The humor is more immature and explicit than how it was in the original games, but our culture has shifted in this direction I suppose. Definitely the best Larry game in ages and the first developer to get the essence of a Larry game right, this is one where I’ll forgive its faults because of all it does well.

Score: 7.4/10

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