LISA: The Painful | Former Friend

Amazing VGM: Go Home Johnny (LISA: The Painful)

Expect me to do a lot of stanning for LISA: The Painful in the future. It really is a work of genius in just how it conveys the painful nature of Brad’s existence through its gameplay. But this piece isn’t about the gameplay, it’s about the music that accompanies part of the gameplay. Specifically this piece plays during boss battles against former friends. SPOILERS below!

One may notice that this track is probably one of the few battle themes of the LISA ost that sounds like a traditional JRPG battle theme. With the exception of the rather simplistic base percussion, the entire track sounds significantly less ghetto than most of the tracks in the game. The reason for this is because of the emotionally charged nature of the battles it takes place during.

A major theme of LISA is about Brad burning bridges with his previous friends. The first of these is actually optional. Your first party member is Terry Hintz, who is purposefully made to be useless in the early game. You will be given a choice fairly early on between either losing all your items and equipment or Terry’s life. If you keep Terry, which I did cause I’m not a heartless monster, you see that he gets some vital abilities and becomes a valuable party member. If you choose to have him killed… he doesn’t actually die. However, he was hurt that you sold him out to keep your items and he joins the bad guy. His boss fight is apparently quite challenging as well.

Later fights that use this theme include the battle against Sticky to prevent you from going after Buddy, and the battle against your current party as they try to stop you from fighting off Rando’s army. What really hits you with these battles is how unlike most RPGs, the reason for the fight isn’t contrived nor is the main character in the right. Against Terry you feel like a real piece of shit because he has a valid reason for wanting to kick your ass. Terry was one of the few party members who legitimately looked up to Brad yet you turned your back on him. Not only is his boss fight difficult but you also feel bad for winning.

The latter two fights occur while Brad is in the middle of his downward spiral and serve as a sign that Brad is NOT doing the right thing. The fight against your existing party will reveal which party members were truly loyal and which ones never liked you to begin with. If they were loyal, you feel bad about killing them. If they never liked you, it hurts to know that your supposed comrades always felt this way (although it’s not surprising considering some of the underhanded ways you can get some of them to join).

As for the track itself, those strings already convey an air of sadness but it is the chorus that really portrays the tragedy of the situation. It’s a simplistic composition but holy shit is it powerful. You just don’t usually expect there to be a choir in a game like LISA, even if it is obviously synthetic. It harmonizes wonderfully and the entire thing is just beautiful.

Well that is enough for this week’s VGM. See you next week!

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