LISA the painful


A fitting tribute to the RPG genre in all respects, overlooking the insane amounts of violence and death


  • Simple but colorful graphics made using RPG maker
  • Classic tribute to RPGs like Final Fantasy and Earthbound
  • Fun side-scrolling adventure with ample opportunity to explore, collect items, and upgrade your character
  • Intuitive, turn-based battle system with custom combos for more deadly attacks
  • Gripping narrative about a dystopic future seemingly without hope
  • Suitably atmospheric music for battles, environments, and characters
  • Many different characters to meet throughout your journey


  • Graphic or vulgar content is often excessive, taking from the overall enjoyment of the game

LISA the painful is a rather disturbing free-to-play side-scrolling RPG game, developed by Austin Jorgensen, in which a player must survive in a harsh environment by making tough choices, compromises and sacrifices to stay alive. Indie game developers have rather divergent ideas when it comes to creating a truly innovative game, in terms of game mechanics, music, graphics, narrative, or even the reinvention of a genre. Jorgensen's kickstarter project has similar aims, in this case hoping to create a world that emphasizes the idea of player agency and choice over more predictable game mechanics. The world of LISA is created to facilitate this. 

What is LISA all about?

LISA is a typical RPG with atypical narrative elements. Its creator, Jorgensen, appears to be trying to paint a picture of civilization that emphasizes the more deplorable tendencies of humanity. This includes bullying, seen at the beginning of the game, crime, suicide, prostitution, drugs, murder and more. The game has a fragmented narrative structure, taking place with similar characters such as Brad, our protagonist, but in different time periods. This is used to indicate the passage of time, thereby progressing the narrative more quickly. In the desolate landscape that is presented in the near future, there are no women, clothing and supplies are scarce, and human civilization is on the brink of collapse. Brad must navigate this world, and you must help him.

Classic RPG Elements with a Twist

LISA has a simple side-scrolling layout made using RPG maker. Dialogue is short, snappy, and engaging. Controls are limited to dialogue box scrolling, lateral movement with directional keys, and engagement with various objects in your environment. Battling also has 'wasd' controls for movement and various types of punches. Interfaces are quite similar to Final Fantasy or other RPGs. Graphics and environments are basic, but very colorful and well designed by Jorgensen. Characters, too, though simple in appearance, are emotionally driven, with appropriate sound effects and facial expressions to indicate their reactions.

The game takes some inspiration from Earthbound, a classic RPG game for the Super Nintendo, in which you were tasked with exploring environments thoroughly and collecting all kinds of items for various purposes, or where characters developed complex social relations over time. Based on such solidarity, these characters would then be given the opportunity to willingly sacrifice themselves to save one another throughout the game. Next, there is the equipment. Similar to Final Fantasy games, the game lets you outfit your player with gear for the head, body, hands, and feet, as well as equip accessories. As you progress through the game, you will encounter more and more characters who will join your party, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to customize to your liking. 

The RPG elements of the game are not limited to storytelling. The battle system resembles classic RPGs, using a turn-based approach. A player can fight using standard attacks or various skills and combos. The UI for a battle is fairly basic, displaying HP and SP (for using skills) as well as a graphic of the enemy you are fighting. Attacks are often of a rather gruesome nature, with some violent or explicit content. While humorous for some, keep this mind if you aren't a fan of inappropriate content. Once a battle is completed, the experience points will be displayed as well as a character's stats: HP, SP, Atk, Def, Sp. Atk, Sp. Def, Luck, and Agility. The music when battling is rather funny, offering anything from hip-hop style beats to more subdued music to increase tension levels. A character levels up as normal to increase these stats. In terms of difficulty, careful consideration of tactics will usually lead to victory. 

The Verdict

All in all, LISA the painful is an interesting, albeit disturbing, take on classic RPGs. Made using RPG maker, graphics, musical accompaniments, battle mechanics and other elements familiar from popular titles such as Final Fantasy or Earthbound are abundant throughout. The narrative is very strong, based on a dystopic future filled with violence and intrigue. Imagery is rather gruesome and explicit, so if that's not what you're into, I wouldn't recommend this title. Music is surprisingly good, always matching the mood and the atmosphere. Collectibles and varied environments ensure that exploration is never boring. Battling, although a little repetitive, is incredibly fun and upgrading your character is just as fun as comparable Final Fantasy-esque titles. If you're looking for a solid, free-to-play RPG to dig in to, LISA the painful, while a darker sort than most, is certain to do the job. 

LISA the painful icon

Type Demo

Version Demo

Other versions