What would you do to save a life? Would you take the lives of many to save someone you care about? Even if you are destroying your own creations you have cherished? These are the Frankenstein and his monster type questions you must ask yourself in My Lovely Daughter by Game Changer Studio on Nintendo Switch.
You wake up and find a corpse in a bed. This isn’t any normal day for your character, Faust. Waking to find you have lost all your memories, you quickly deduce with clues the shockingly truth; the person belonging to the brain dead body is that of your daughter, lifeless but also more importantly, soulless. You must use resources and your alchemy skills to create homunculi, mythical humanoid creatures that affiliate with sadness, anger, fear and happiness, to feed your daughter’s soul orb. A very hard task after you cultivate them and nurture them from scratch.
That is the main theme of this game, pain and violence, neatly wrapped in a sugar-coated skin of a game. It even has a warning at the start, that this is based on trauma and sorrow. It’s a scary tipping balance of emotions and morals. You create these creatures; no different than your own child, gain their trust and love; no different than your own child and then you must slaughter them for your own child, without batting an eyelid. I see the parallels everywhere with modern society and how quick we are to destroy bonds for a quick solution whether it be with other people, the environment or within ourselves.
Game play is simply split into two, point and click playable areas. Firstly, you must manage your affairs at home, while time here isn’t restricted, it does count as one week. In this week, you can combine ingredients to make your Homunculus children, ‘clean’ your daughter’s rotting corpse, playing with them to build their trust and on every full moon attempt to infuse your daughter back with her soul. Once you are ready, it takes you to town where you spend a week sending your environmental spirit children to work with the town members for that sweet dough, buy precious resources from vendors and acquire chores and deeds that earn you extra cash when completed in a certain time. This time in town passes very quickly so manage your priorities well.
Combining different ingredients in your voodoo circle of death will create different types of Homunculus in weaker and stronger forms that can level up over time the more you work and nurture them. Slaying our little friends will charge either a Fear, Anger, Sadness and Happiness meter in the Soul Orb and give you upgrades materials. Find some sort of balance and this may awaken the daughter when infused with her body, the wrong combination will reset all the stats back to zero until you send more sacrificial lambs to the slaughter, a very quick roadblock on the building suspense. This can be repetitive very quickly and I found I often had a few attempts at combinations then would come back to it at a later stage but at least this pick up/put down doesn’t require much brain power to get back into.
The game is very unique visually, with a cartoon style in sepia with slashes of red to accent catching moments along the story. The old fashion, map-like appearance stands out amongst all the bold black line work with is morbidly beautiful. The music is subtle and eerie but it is background to the at times, brutal sound effects of certain character interactions.
Overall, My Lovely Daughter is a gloomy and dark premise of a story with simple game mechanics. This very much trial and error game are engaging so a period but does become tedious very quickly. Not a story for a young audience but interesting enough to come back to at your own leisure.
- Heartfelt and jarring, a reality check into life and death
- Simple point and click game play
- Visually unique cartoonish appearance with eerie undertones
- Not a game designed for all audiences, jarring content for younger gamers
- Repetitive gameplay that can become dull quickly
- Not much action or real suspense