Video Game: Lisa

The miserable journey of a broken man...

A game about survival, sacrifice, and perverts...
Steam Description

The Lisa series is a series of indie videogames developed by Austin "Dingaling" Jorgenson. All games share the same title and take place in the same universe as well as the similar themes of domestic abuse, rape, depression, and addiction. The original Lisa (re-named "Lisa: The First" to avoid confusion with the second game) is an Adventure Game created using RPG Maker 2003 that explores the non-specific but not exactly vague ways that the unfortunate circumstances of a young girl's life have affected her. She not only tries to escape from them, but she also tries to escape from the man at the center of it all as well. You can download it here.

Following in the tradition of Yume Nikki, the player guides Lisa through various worlds, connected to a lobby by different doors, and must collect different items and navigate obstacles in order to progress through her journey. The horror elements are mostly atmospheric, preferring haunting, creepy music and bizarre environments that are left quite available for the player to observe to jump scares and brief glimpses of monsters.

Two years later, Dingaling released another game with the same title. But it wasn't aYume Nikki inspired Adventure Game like last time. Instead, it was an Earthbound-style RPG taking place in a world without any women. The protagonist is an aging and troubled martial artist named Brad Armstrong. When Brad's surrogate daughter Buddy, the (supposedly) last woman on Earth, gets kidnapped, Brad sets out on a journey to rescue her while facing the horrors of a world filled to the brim with idiots and perverts, and up to 20 recruitable party members, each with their own unique personality and abilities. One of the more notable features of the game is its "sacrifice" system. Sacrifices are everywhere in the game, such as the choice of either having your arm ripped off or a valuable party member slain. It's called "The Painful RPG" for a reason.

A sequel, Lisa: The Joyful is in the works. Taking place after the events of Lisa: The Painful RPG. It will focus on Buddy trying to survive in Olathe while uncovering the mysteries of her world and her past.
    open/close all folders 

    Lisa: The First 
  • Abusive Parents: Marty, Lisa's father: a drunkard who lives in squalor and keeps everything, including Lisa herself, locked up as much as possible.
  • The Alcoholic: Marty.
  • Body Horror: The "melting-face" Marty creatures and the fields full of eyes.
    • May also be Foreshadowing for the sequel. Marty is a pill-popper, and the ones with melting faces bear an unsettling resemblance to the "mindless sheep" type of Joy mutants.
  • Double Entendre: "Tricky Rick", who speaks in nothing but these.
  • Downer Ending: The end was already a huge downer, with Marty telling Lisa that she'll never escape him, but the sequel takes it further by implying Lisa killed herself because of Marty's abuse.
  • Fat Bastard: Marty. The fact that he's a nasty son of a bitch is about the only thing we know about him.
  • Flat Character: Marty, again; everything you need to know about him can be surmised in the first few minutes of the game. The Painful RPG fills out a bit more details on him and even makes him The Atoner.
  • Groin Attack: Lisa's murders of Tricky Rick are a sort of symbolic version of this.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The Necklace. We're never told why it's important, just that Lisa treasures it.
  • Nobody Poops: Subverted and played straight; there are toilets all over the place, but the urine (being the product of a drunken asshole) is all over the floor. Interacting them plays a weird retching sound note  though Word of God has stated that it wasn't meant to represent vomiting.
  • Rape and Revenge: The essence of the plot, though it's a lot weirder than the phrase suggests.
  • Rape as Backstory: And regular story, too.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Lisa, possibly; the game takes place in a sort of dreamscape, but there's not really any indication that Lisa is actually asleep, and neither of the endings have her waking up.
  • World of Symbolism: Everything can be seen as evidence of Lisa's really horrible life, although for some of it, it's up to the player to decide exactly how it all adds up.
  • You Suck: The Rope World, where Lisa will spend an unfairly long time climbing a rope to get to a platform... which just has a big hand sticking up out of the ground, flipping her the bird.

    Lisa: The Painful RPG 
  • Abusive Parents: Brad has repeated flashbacks to him and his sister's abusive father. He also ends up becoming one himself, without realizing it.
  • After the End: Set in a Fist of the North Star-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland during the dying days of humanity.
  • All for Nothing: In the end, Brad's attempt at saving Buddy amounts to nothing. Brad dies and turns into a joy mutant and Buddy heads towards an uncertain and even more dangerous future than before.
  • All Men Are Perverts: In a world where women are extinct, porn magazines have become such a valuable commodity that people use them as currency.
  • All There in the Manual: Large chunks of backstory aren't elaborated on at all in the main story, and are only discernible through incidental texts, bonus scenes in Pain mode, interviews with Dingaling and the Kickstarter reward art book. It's possible to play the entire main quest without even finding out who the game's actual villain is.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted in regards to Brad, whose sprite changes depending on the amount of limbs he has left and will shift accordingly depending on the way he's facing. Even in the beginning, after his head injury, Brads scars will shift sides depending on the way he's facing.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Depending on the choices he makes, Brad can end up paying this way.
  • Anti-Grinding: Nearly every enemy encounter is hand placed and nonrepeatable. The only enemies that respawn as the Shadows in dark caves and snakes in the Fishman Swamp, but their experience and mag payout is so minuscule (and, in the case of mags, nonexistent with the snakes) that you're better off fighting the hand placed encounters in most cases.
  • Anti-Villain: To go with the Grey and Gray Morality of the game, some of the enemies Brad fights are hardly evil. The crowning example would have to be the bulldozer section of the game, where the only thing the people in Brad's way are guilty of is... being in Brad's way.
  • Anyone Can Die: It is completely possible for all of your party members (except for Brad, of course) to be killed, either by game events or by a few extremely dangerous enemies that will kill rather than incapacitate your members.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: No matter how many people you recruit, you can only have a four-man party at any time.
  • Asshole Victim: It's a Crapsack World full of perverts, many of whom openly state their intentions if they find 'The Girl'. However, not everyone that Brad can kill necessarily does something to deserve his wrath, and there's some serious Deconstruction thrown in here and there.
    • When Tardy Hernandez starts ranting to Brad that he didn't help him out for nothing and "I want a piece of [her]", it's pretty obvious what's coming next.
    • Similarly, depending on the makeup of your final party, certain allies may admit the same thing.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Brad is a martial artist who starts off with a lot of health and fights primarily through punches and kicks and can even learn a Kamehame Hadoken. Depending on his choices, he might end up losing his fists and is forced to simply resort to biting at his enemies.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Brad sports a full beard, and is haunted by his regrets and bad memories.
  • Berserk Button: Inverted. At one point, after one of Buzzo's goons hits Buddy, Brad begins to cooperate so he won't do it again.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: There are really two main antagonists in the game. The first, and most obvious, is Rando, a Rao styled warlord who leads a massive, brutal army and is Brad's main opponent in saving Buddy. The second antagonist is Buzzo, an enigmatic warlord who is heavily involved in the Joy trade and is obsessed with psychologically breaking Brad for unclear reasons.
    • It's implied by both the Joyless ending and the Pain Mode ending that Rando is not an antagonist at all, but rather a former student of Brad's who seeks to repair the world. Instead, the Big Bad Duumvirate may consist of Buzzo (who is implied to be the one who cut off the stuttering boy's face in the Pain Mode ending) and Dr. Yado, who created both Joy and the Great Flash (and may also be the Trumpet Man, who can be seen hanging around several of Dr. Yado's labs).
  • Black and Grey Morality: A recurring theme. Brad's motives seem the most noble, but he's willing to do a number of horrendous things to achieve them. He even admits to Buddy that everyone's motives were selfish, including his, since he never considered her feelings and denied her freedom in the name of protecting her.
  • Body Horror: Strange distorted monsters that used to be men dot the lands as difficult mini-bosses. They are implied to have been mutated by overdoses of Joy. In the ending, Brad turns into a Joy mutant due to Buzzo forcing him to overdose and starts crawling towards Buddy.
  • Bonus Boss: A few, mostly consisting of mutants that dot the landscape, blocking passage to amazing items. One of the most powerful mutants, Beady, guards the item that lets you fight Satan the evil trucker.
  • Brick Joke: The guy who leads the orphanage in Area 1 is the guy that should have gotten the degree instead of the bulldozer boss. He even refers to this as the "second worst thing to happen in his whole life".
  • Brown Note: The interspersed hums that can be heard whenever Brad hallucinates about his father, usually accompanied by a red image of what appear to be organs. The note is heard for the last time just before Brad attacks and kills Marty.
    • An astute player might notice that the sound is very similar to the noise Joy Mutants make when they use their scream attack.
  • But Thou Must: Certain required fights give you the choice to escape, but call you out if you try and restart the fight. Doing this enough times can outright lead to an instant game over.
    • On the hilarious side, you cannot do anything else for the orphans aside from burning them alive.
    • Despite being given a choice whether or not to let him live, Brad will not spare Marty when the two meet.
  • The Cameo: As one of the Kickstarter rewards is to be made into a character in the game, there are characters who are based on recognizable figures. For example, you can come across Jim Sterling as well as Matt and Pat.
    • Expy: Super boss Satan is of this to Mike Nnemonic, who got in as a result of kickstarter.
  • Chocolate Baby: One Flashback heavily implies that Rick's son isn't really his.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: Near the start of the game, Rick suggests to Brad that they should just give Buddy to Rando and his army. Turns out he was right, as Rando has the best intentions for Buddy.
  • Crapsack World: In a world with no females, society has completely collapsed. With the human race doomed to extinction, everyone is hopeless.
  • Dead Little Sister: Brad is haunted by visions of a dead little girl in white, implied to be his sister the original Lisa from the first game.
  • Death Seeker: The deranged mascot Wally, reveals to Brad that he wishes for death, when encountered in the pain mode.
  • Deconstruction: Of RPGs in general, and the notion that these games have no "sacrificing". Party members can die and not be brought back to life in certain circumstances, Brad is a far cry from normal protagonists and is someone you do NOT want to be, and the game ends with Brad dying, succeeding in his quest but losing literally everything else.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the story still deals with the dark themes of the previous game, it's also incredibly silly in places as you deal with some ridiculous characters and situations.
  • Dingaling Thinks Of Everything: When Brad abandons his party to find Buddy alone, you can see that each individual party member has a "sleeping" sprite.
    • If you go to the final area with no one in your party at all, where Brad would normally fight his party he instead fights a hallucination called "Shadow of Friends".
    • If Brad loses both his arms, he can no longer equip armbands.
  • Disk One Nuke: Getting some party members earlier than intended can cause you to trounce certain areas of the game.
    • Buckets can be gotten as early as the beginning of Area 2, and while obtaining him does require you to complete the Russain-Roulette sidequest, losing a large amount of your party or savescumming like crazy, his mid to lategame damage and abilities can become a huge help.
    • Harvey Alabastor can also be obtained as early as Area 2, and his excellent damage output, high bleed, sleep, paralysis and pissed chance abilities, excellent single-target nuke and even a debuff-remover for a single party member can be very useful the entire rest of the game.
  • Distressed Dude: If you rest outside of an inn, you may find one of your gang members kidnapped for ransom.
    • Toby, Crisp Ladaddy's lover, becomes this if you hold him for ransom in exchange for Crisp joining you.
    • Parodied with Rooster Coleman and his prize hen Goldie, who you can hold hostage for a crazy amount of mags or his compliance in joining your party.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The strange image of Sticky in Brad's Joy-induced fight with him. This symbolic Sticky has a very phallic shape, asks Brad not to be angry with him for having sex with/most likely raping Buddy, and when he is killed, has some kind of clear outer layer surrounding himself, with a protrusion emerging from the top of it.
  • Downer Ending: No matter what happens, Brad dies and transforms into a mutant in the end. There are slight variations, but that's it.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Brad copes with his visions by taking doses of Joy and drinking. The game proper begins with him waking up after a relapse.
  • Endless Daytime: One of the secondary effects of The Great White Flash is that Olathe is almost always stuck in midday, with night rarely if ever coming.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The secret Sequel Hook conversation at the end of the Joyless ending shows that Even Buzzo, by far the most cruel and sadistic character in the game, is disturbed by Dr. Yado's master plan.
  • Expy: Rando is one for Raoh. He's even an Anti-Villain.
  • Face-Heel Turn: For varying degrees of Heel, but near the end when Brad is asked to let Rando keep Buddy for her own good, and he refuses, your party turns on you, forcing you to kill them before facing Rando's army alone.
    • Anti-Villain: Some of them, like Terry and Harvey, join against Brad because they genuinely believe that he's in the wrong. These characters will sometimes gain the crying ailment or waste turns regretting it.
    • False Friend: Some characters, like Rage, admit that they were only in it for Buddy, and will not waste turns attacking Brad.
  • Fantastic Drug: Joy, a painkiller that doubles your attack and defense and eventually mutates you into a hideous monster.
  • Final Death: A recurring danger, what with kidnappings, poisonings and bosses with One-Hit KO skills, it's very unlikely you'll get through the game without losing someone.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • If you talk to the Salvation Rangers after they retreat into their cave, Blue will tell you that he's been feeling strangely violent lately. He's been taking Joy, and later mutates into a Joy monster that kills all of the other Salvation Rangers.
    • If you played the first game, you probably noticed that Sticky and "Tricky Rick" have a similar appearance. This is not a coincidence.
    • In the intro, Brad stumbles onto Buddy as an infant. He tries to calm her down, and even manages to toss her into the air a few times...but at one point he fails to catch her. It's a subtle hint as to how Brad might not really be the best person to be a parent to Buddy.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The man who cuts Buddy's face effectively declares he's doing this: after having such a shitty life, he's "making his mark on history!"
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Using Joy will affect the ending of the game.
    • Losing limbs causes the number of types of moves Brad can do in Dial-Combos to go down, along with increasing the need for Joy, removing/weakening some moves and halving your stats.
    • Towards the end of the Rando Army fight, the music for Joy Mutant fights will begin to play at the 3rd round. While this may seem like a purely stylistic choice, in hindsight it makes sense, as Brad is turning into a Joy mutant at this point.
    • Once the mutation into a Joy monster begins to take hold of Brad, his class changes from "Nobody" to "Failure", reflecting his mental state.
    • A lot of the Joy Mutant bosses are immune to the "fallen over" status, which makes sense as a part of gameplay balance, and also because most of them don't have legs.
  • Gendercide: An unexplained event known only as "the great white flash" somehow wiped out every woman on the planet. However, Buzzo later makes reference to a hidden group of women, which isn't elaborated on.
  • Gender Rarity Value: All over the place, Buddy is revered as a messiah by some and treated as an object by others, even Brad unintentionally denies her the freedom to be herself. The only ones in the game that seems to care about her as a person are Rando and Marty.
  • Give Her A Normal Life: Brad tries to invoke this with Buddy, hoping to be a better father to her than Marty was to him and his sister and to keep her as safe and happy as possible. Subverted, however - he ends up returning to Joy and following the same path of addiction and neglect toward Buddy, inevitably becoming just like his father.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Brad attempts this early on, dumping his supply of Joy over a cliff so he can focus more on making Buddy happy. However, his nightmarish visions eventually drive him back to the pills, leading to the start of the game. He can attempt to quit Joy in-game, which changes certain dialog. In gameplay, every so often, all characters who have previously taken Joy will be inflicted with a withdrawal status.
  • Groin Attack: Brad's fight with Sticky after being forcefed Joy seems to be this.
    • Played for laughs with a short sidequest wherein Brad and co. get jumped by a weirdo who kicks Brad in the crotch and then runs away. You can catch back up to him and initiate combat, followed by Brad kicking him in the crotch and instantly winning.
  • Handicapped Badass: Depending on decisions taken, Brad can end up with both of his arms severed. While this does severely impact his fighting ability, he's still capable of performing kicks and tackles.
  • Interface Spoiler: On July 7, 2014, the game went on sale to coincide with the release of the digital artbook. The image used to advertise the sale? The scene from the ending where a dying, Joy mutated Brad gives Buddy the wilted flower as Buddy gives him a comfort hug.
  • It Runs in the Family: The Hernandez siblings (Fardy, Shardy, and Tardy) all deal with transportation services. Fardy joins Brad as a party member and gives him the ability to fast travel with his truck and uses said truck for attacks, Shardy gives boat rides to the secret islands, and Tardy also runs a boat service but you have to help him build a new one in order to look for Buddy.
  • Joke Character:
    • Terry Hintz, your first party member, deals terrible damage, has low health and starts out with a weak heal move that costs most of his SP. He gets better after a while, but it takes a good four or five levels before he's even barely competent.
  • Inn Security: Resting at campsites can be risky; you never know what you might wake up to...
  • Karma Houdini: Buzzo never gets any comeuppance despite being a total psychopath throughout the entire game.
  • Killed Off for Real: Oh boy, the game loves doing this with your party members. In addition to the Sadistic Choices Buzzo gives you, there is also the Russian roulette game, and a few enemies have literal instant kill attacks.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • Terry starts out as bar none the weakest character in the entire game, but after leveling up a bunch, Terry becomes a fairly good healer (if a bit squishy). Level him up to the near-max, and Terry gains some truly devastating attacks, including the strongest attack in the game, full stop.
    • Birdie is a drunkard who initially seems useless due to being, well, a drunkard, that requires being drunk to actually be effective. His basic move isn't even an attack- it's the ability to make himself drunk. If leveled up, Birdie becomes a fairly strong support/tank hybrid with a move that has a guaranteed chance to Oil (and a lower chance to blind) opponents, causing fire damage to be multiplied by %250. He also has a good full party heal, and decent single-target attacks. Considering that both Brad and Mad Dog, two of the most powerful characters in the game, have fire moves, Birdie suddenly becomes freakishly useful and borderline necessary for Satan, the Bonus Boss.
    • Bo cannot attack at all- his basic attack is a dial combo that can be used to perform songs. Despite this, Bo can be ludicrously useful as a support, with numerous buffs for your party, AOE debuffs for the enemy, and a debuff remover for your whole party.
  • Lord British Postulate: Whenever Buzzo gives you a Sadistic Choice, there is also the option to fight Buzzo instead. However, Buzzo is massively overpowered and takes out even maximum level characters in a single hit. It is still possible to defeat him if you get lucky. If you do that, Buzzo says you shouldn't have done that, and you get a game over anyway.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: Brad becomes this, following in his father's abusive and addicted footsteps.
  • Lost Forever: Friggin' everywhere. Completing certain sidequests out of order can lock you out of party members, some items are only available once, and entire villages full of party members, items, and stores can be wiped out.
  • Lots And Lots Of Characters: The total number of party members you can recruit is somewhere around 30, and even bit characters and enemies are all mostly unique.
  • Magikarp Power: For most of the game Terry Hintz is utterly useless, but at his final level becomes incredibly powerful.
  • Mood Whiplash: Done beautifully several times over the course of the game. One minute you'll be laughing, the next, paralyzed with fear or disgusted.
    • The EWC, a hilarious pro-wrestling sendup full of wrestling in-jokes, memes and affectionately poking fun at it's source material is a few screens away from the third crossroads, where you either give up Buddy's fucking nipple, or your current party, and either your arm, severely limiting your moveset and your stats or all of your supplies- healing items, bottles, the works.
    • The Wallys section- a pretty funny and calming area of the game that parodies fast-food ends with Brad entering the restaurant that the food comes from and seeing that "Wally" is a deranged psychopath whose face has been melted off, making the delicious Wallyburgers out of human meat, which quickly turns to intense nightmare fuel.
    • Dismal Island, a weird bonus area with some absurd humor like a man whose mustache is so long you can climb up it and a wacked out slave trader ends with an extremely difficult Joy mutant fight, laden with instant kills.
  • Mook Horror Show: In the finale, Brad becomes one.
    What's with this guy?! He's a fucking monster!
  • Mr. Exposition: Parodied by Nern, who begins telling you the history of the Great White Flash and what happened to all the woman, but then get's distracted and ends up rambling about how he was jealous of his neighbor's hot wife.
  • Multiple Endings: The epilogue is different depending how many limbs, if any, Brad has by the end, and how much Joy Brad took throughout the game. In addition, completing the game in Pain mode unlocks a new epilogue that reveals Buzzo and Rando's backstories.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: After first finding Buddy, Brad refers to her as his "second chance".
  • Nintendo Hard: While it isn't extemely difficult, many players might be shocked at just how tough many of the enemies are, requiring Brad and co. to utilize everything in their arsenal to survive.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A recurring theme. During the opening, Brad gets badly beaten by a Gang of Bullies by taking the heat for his friends, then has to limp home afterwards. Choosing to protect your allies also often leads to Brad getting disfigured in the process.
  • Noob Cave: The ravine where Brad wakes up is plastered with signs written by Terry Hintz, offering tips about the controls and whatnot.
  • Off Model: Brad's amputated arm (should you choose to cut it off) is usually consistent, but certain sequences like Shardy's boat trip will have it on the wrong side.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Brad is out of commission during the battle between Rando's and Buzzo's armies at the end of Chapter 2. He only sees the aftermath.
  • One-Hit Kill: A LOT. Expect squishier party members to die a lot if you don't stunlock enemies or deal enough damage in short bursts.
  • Optional Party Member: Almost everyone. Out of the 30-or-so recruitable party members, only 4 join you over the course of the main story.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Brad does increasingly horrible things as the game progresses, becoming almost as bad as Buzzo by the end.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: Aside from the few times you are asked to throw the match, the wrestling matches you can take part in are as real as any other fight.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: There are hints throughout the game that Rando was actually Brad's old student; they even have the same stutter, and calls him Master Armstrong. However, this trope is subversion since Rando has the best intentions for Buddy.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Marty has ceased his abusive and neglectful tendencies, and is clearly angry if Brad kicks Buddy out of the way in order to attack him. Regardless of your choice of whether or not to kill him, Brad kills him without hesitation.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Buzzo specializes in this, targeting Brad's party members in order to force Brad to choose between himself and their lives.
  • Russian Roulette: Brad is forced to play with his gang members at least once during the course of the game, and you can go back and play again. Most players are hesitant because of the risk, but it's one of the games most plentiful sources of mags, plus it nets you a decent pistol-type weapon and Buckets, a Disk One Nuke.
  • Sadistic Choice: Many, primarily concerning whether you leave a party member to die in order to save yourself, or risk your life to save them. In line with the game's cynical tone, choosing to save your party members almost always results in Brad getting disfigured and getting an appropriate stat deduction.
  • Save Game Limits: In Pain Mode, save points are now one-time use and disappear in an explosion thereafter. They also disappear even if you cancel out of the save menu, so it's best to really think about whether to save at a certain location before consulting that crow.
  • Save Scumming: How most players approach Russian Roulette. Notably the nearest save point to the warehouse is several screens away specifically to discourage this, and Pain mode limits you to using each save point only once to make this mostly impossible.
  • Schmuck Bait: When you go to the Bees's place, you can talk to a guy looking into a pool of water who tells you that he thinks he sees the fish people in there. He doesn't, but the fish people ARE at a 1 tile-wide hole a little further away from the brothel.
  • Secret Character: Almost every party member is optional, making them all this. Some characters stand out as more secretive as others though.
    • Buckets is unlocked by clearing the Russian-Roulette sidequest.
    • Harvey Alabastor is found by completing the Fishmen Court sidequest in the secret Fishman Village. Similarly, Carp can be coerced into joining your party by handing him the Green Paste, also obtainable in the Fishman Village.
    • Geese Thompson can be obtained by sleeping in the Area 2 Inn (the one that he resides in) three times, talking to him each time you wake up.
    • Ollie Nickles is found by traveling to Garbage Island, locating him, and paying off his "huge" loan of 2 mags. While that sounds relatively simple, Garbage Island is an entirely optional area that most people won't know even exists due to the obtuse way of finding the map to it, hidden in the Fishman Village.
      • Ditto for Fly Minetti who is also situated on Garbage Island, but can be obtained by beating a relatively simple sidequest, specifically the "Shopping Cart Race" sidequest.
  • Secret Level: All the Islands; Garbage, Resort and Dismal. Garbage houses some items, two party members and a funny sidequest, Resort Island is definitely definitely totally not at all a horrifying place, and Dismal Island is... uhh.. weird.
  • Sound-Only Death: Russian Roulette games end with a Smash to Black punctuated by a gunshot.
  • Shown Their Work: Dingaling is an acclaimed martial artist, and a few of the melee characters are given explicit fighting styles in the artbook. Some are obvious, like Birdie having Zui Quan, but even characters like Terry Hintz have some theory behind them.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Nier, with the whole Father Figure whose actions and intervention actually do more harm than good.
  • Sprint Shoes: The child's bicycle allows Brad to travel at increased speed and jump gaps.
  • Standard Status Effects: In addition to the usual ones (poison, paralysis, crying, etc.), there are recurring debuffs such as withdrawal and depression. They can be cured with Joy.
  • Super Serum: A report posted in the Joy laboratory implies the project may have been started to create one of these for the military. An extra scene unlocked by completing the game without taking Joy opens with a report stating that it is a failed version of this.
  • Theme Naming: Plenty of characters have names with relevant meanings, but several of them double as slang for, or references to, various aspects of sex, body parts, or innuendo, illustrating exactly why this world of sex-starved men devoid of women is so dangerous for a little girl (for instance, one enemy carries the last name of Diddles, as in child molestation). The earliest (and arguably most blatant) are Sticky, Rick, and Cheeks. Rick gets special mention due to the presence of "Tricky Rick" in the first game though of the three of them, Sticky is the rapist. Maybe.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Brad has unsettling visions and Flashbacks from time to time, which results in...
  • Unreliable Narrator: ...his point of view being sometimes made questionable by his mental state, particularly when he's taking Joy. It's notable that when Sticky apologizes to Brad and the tone and the dialogue implies he raped Buddy, Buddy herself says they only talked. It's possible that Sticky never actually laid a hand on her, he only told her the truth about what she means to the world, and he's apologizing for Brad for giving her "the talk" before Brad thought she was ready to hear it, not violating her. All the phallic imagery could just be Brad's assumptions and fears, filtered through a drug-addled mind.
  • Use Your Head: Rage Ironhead is a wrestler who specializes in headbutting his enemies to death. Brad has several moves that involve tackling his enemies headfirst.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Completely averted, most status effects skills also do damage, and bosses are just as vulnerable as normal enemies with few exceptions.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Charmy is the first mutant boss you face and the first one capable of killing off party members. Even when exploiting his weakness, it's still a long and dangerous battle.
  • Weird Currency: Porno magazines.
  • The Worf Effect: The entire Rando Army (plus possibly Rando himself) completely flatten Buzzo's Joy Gang with few casualties, cementing them as not only the bigger threat, but also turning it into this trope. When Brad fights them by himself, however, they get destroyed. Justified in that Brad is turning into a Joy mutant at this point, and the stronger a person is before mutation, the stronger the mutant becomes. Brad, being one of the strongest people in the entirety of the wasteland, naturally produces one hell of a mutant.
  • X Meets Y: Earthbound meets Nier meets Fist of the North Star.

    Lisa: The Joyful