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Video Game / LISA

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

The LISA trilogy is a series of indie games developed by Austin "Dingaling" Jorgensen. Each of the games in the series has "LISA" in the title, take place in the same universe, and share themes such as physical and psychological abuse, mental illness, human depravity, and substance abuse. It takes place in Olathe, an... area in the United States, chronicling the journey of three members of the Armstrong family and their lives both before and after 'The Flash', an unspecified apocalyptic event that turned Olathe from a lush green locale to a Mad Max-esque desert wasteland.

Released on September 10th, 2012, the original LISA (later re-named "LISA: The First" to avoid confusion with the sequels) is an Adventure Game created using RPG Maker 2003 that explores the non-specific but not exactly vague ways that the unfortunate circumstances of the titular young girl Lisa Armstrong'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, her abusive father Marty Armstrong. 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.

On November 21st, 2013, Austin released a demo for his next game, "LISA: The Painful RPG", as a reward for one of its Kickstarter goals being reached. You can download it here. Then, on December 15th, 2014, Austin finally released the full game. Unlike "LISA: The First", the second installment is an Earthbound-style RPG sidescroller taking place in a world without any women, who were wiped out by The Flash. The protagonist is a bald, aging and troubled martial artist named Brad Armstrong, the now-grown brother of Lisa. He and his friends make a living in the harsh desert land when, one day, a baby girl is left outside Brad's home. Seeing as she is the (supposedly) last female on Earth, Brad adopts her and names her Buddy.


When she eventually gets kidnapped by grunts of Rando, a skull-masked warlord, Brad sets out on a journey to rescue her while facing the horrors of a world filled to the brim with idiots, perverts, slavers, a mysterious masked cult known as the Joy Boys who distribute a drug called Joy (which makes the user "feel nothing"), and the mutated monstrosities known as Joy Mutants who have been warped by the cult's creation.

The game features up to 30 recruitable party members, each with their own unique personality and abilities. It is also notable for being one of the most difficult RPGs ever, with tough enemies and bosses, limited money, and a treacherous environment, among other things. 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 Brad's arm chopped off (severely decreasing Brad's stats) or a valuable party member slain. It's called "The Painful RPG" for a reason.

A DLC epilogue, Lisa: The Joyful was released on August 24th, 2015. Taking place after the events of Lisa: The Painful RPG, it focuses on Buddy, who is tired of being controlled by men, trying to take down the various warlords and conquer Olathe so that she may never be hurt again, while uncovering the mysteries of her world and her past.

(The tropes you see in LISA increase your need for Joy.)

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    General Tropes 
  • Abusive Parents: As per tradition of the Lisa series, this theme runs deeply through each game.
    • The First is the progenitor of the abuse that runs through the next two games: Marty, Lisa's father, is a drunkard who lives in squalor and keeps everything, including Lisa herself, locked up as much as possible. And for a disturbing reason - he molests Lisa.
    • The Painful shows that this abuse extended to her older brother Brad as well, as in the first 10 minutes of the game, Marty is shown hurling a beer at Brad's head and berating him for being beaten up. His best friend Sticky seems to have a similar dynamic with his own father, but the extent of it is never explicitly stated - only that the abuse was bad enough that Sticky, like Brad, becomes addicted to painkillers.He also ends up becoming one himself, without realizing it. He traps Buddy inside his tent and never lets her leave or interact with anyone.
    • The Joyful reveals that Brad's abuse of Buddy went far beyond being overprotective - we see him force Buddy to kill a man to teach her to fight at an extremely young age, stating that his daughter "will not be weak." He also completely disowns his adoptive son Dusty, refusing to acknowledge him when Buddy asks about him. Also, Yado isn't exactly the best biological father, as he used Buddy as a pawn from birth to throw Olathe into further chaos.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: Brad and Lisa's bedrooms are littered with stains, piles of clothes, and other bits of clutter.
  • Big Bad: Dr Yado is this for the trilogy as a whole, being responsible for the apocalyptic event known as The Flash that turned the world into a hellhole. Each game has its own Big Bad in turn.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Armstrong family is filled with some really messed up people.
    • Marty, the patriarch, is a slovenly, abusive drunkard who molested his daughter, and possibly forced his son to do the same.
    • His children, Brad and Lisa, had absolutely no control over their childhoods as their father ruined most aspects of them, to the point of driving Lisa to suicide. Lisa had also become psychologically manipulative to cope with her horrific abuse, leading to her driving Bernard/Buzzo, her boyfriend, to certain insanity. Brad, on the other hand, tried his best to live his life, but his excessive violence and Joy addiction, amongst other things, would end up ruining him, even in death.
    • Dustin/Rando, Brad's adoptive son, was extremely meek and cowardly, which he made an attempt at addressing by training in martial arts under Brad; This wouldn't protect him from his horrific facial disfigurement at the hand of Bernard/Buzzo, and still affects him throughout The Painful RPG and The Joyful, with the little control he had of his own army, and begrudgingly working with Buddy in betraying his attempts at peacekeeping in Olathe by killing the other warlords. He does grow more of a spine by the end, thankfully.
    • Buddy, Brad's adoptive daughter, was initially the least screwed-up of the Armstrongs. Once she became the bargaining chip of the entirety of Olathe, however, she got increasingly distrustful of everyone; Brad, especially, due to his dubious actions in his Joy-induced attempts to save and protect Buddy, becomes the brunt of her mixture of anger and sadness, realizing that the her own adoptive figure was the cause of her many, many problems in the series. This bleeds into The Joyful, leading her to become a controlling, psychotic nomad who holds no remorse in killing the warlords of Olathe in her quest for power.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Brad and Buddy end up doing a lot of unsavory things as well as Lisa, who corrupted Buzzo, yet for as many innocent people they face, there's just as many rapists and people with even worse morals.
  • Black Comedy: A majority of the comedy in the series will be this.
  • Character Title: Also a One-Word Title, as the game is named after Lisa.
  • Central Theme: Vicious Cycle of Abusive Relations, and Cycle of Revenge over course of generations until one can break the cycle.
  • Crapsack World: An example that gets progressively worse with each game,
    • The First: While we don't see much of the world in the game, characters like Marty get away with being abusive and face no legal repercussions, as The Painful RPG implies.
    • The Painful RPG: The world is post-apocalyptic, after society had collapsed following the White Flash. While there's still pockets of safety, there are bands of warlords vying for power, many characters that are just plain out for blood, and a frighteningly commonplace drug that turns people into mutants with repeated use.
    • The Joyful: The amount of Joy mutants frighteningly grow as Doctor Yado's plan comes to fruition, and while there are some organized attempt to fight them, a cult that worships the mutants kills anyone that tries. Peaceful characters like Rando and Mr. Beautiful also die, leaving the world in the hands of Ax-Crazy conquerors like Buddy.
  • Deconstruction: Of many JRPG tropes.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Turns out Dr. Yado is the random trumpet man who just seemed like an background character.
  • Driven to Suicide: A frequently used trope.
    • The most important suicide is by Lisa herself, after the abuse by Marty in the First gets too much. Her suicide ends up creating or influencing the motivations for Brad and Buzzo, and is something that constantly haunts the two characters across the next two games.
    • Random background characters will kill themselves; sometimes, you meet them and a bit later you'll find them dead, such as the rave dancer in the second game. One fight in the Painful RPG is against a man that will blow his brains out on the first turn.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Lisa: The First is a game very similar to Yume Nikki, in which you just walk around weird places, instead of a side-scrolling RPG like the two posterior titles. It's also the only game that doesn't take place in the post-apocaliptic Olathe.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the end of the series, all the main characters except for Buddy are dead. As for the background characters, there are the remnants of Buzzo's gang, and the W2D worshippers, with the fate of the other half of Olathe unclear.
  • Missing Mom: Arguably, the biggest factor to the very screwed-up Armstrong family was having no matriarch for the protagonists, as Word of God confirmed Brad and Lisa’s mother passed away when the children are still young, Brad having no wife - which lead Buddy having no mother figure and Mrs. Yado, Buddy’s biological mother, was killed by Dr. Yado, himself. Brad’s best friend, Sticky, also mentions his father most of the time, but no mother was referenced at all.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Most of the unambiguously good characters tend to suffer a lot.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Character Title, as the game is named after Lisa.
  • Parental Neglect: Brad and Lisa's childhood home is an absolute pigsty, littered with bottles and stains of indeterminate origin. Brad also follows in his father's footsteps with Buddy after he relapses, largely ignoring her and remaining unconscious most of the day, only interacting with her when he catches her attempting to go outside.
  • Running Gag: Ridiculously long climbs that leads to statues of middle fingers.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: According to Austin Jorgensen, this is how people in Olathe have the power to do things like shoot fireballs, levitate, and do incredible things in general.
  • Surreal Horror: In both subtle and not so subtle ways.
  • There Are No Therapists: Neither Lisa nor Brad seem to have ever gotten any kind of help for their trauma, as Lisa commits suicide at a fairly young age, and Brad is still traumatized to the point of hallucination and substance dependency.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: All of the games feature hallucinatory segments brought on by Sanity Slippage through trauma.

    LISA: The First 
  • The Alcoholic: Marty, which naturally leads to him beating his daughter Lisa.
  • Big Bad: Marty Armstrong, the titular Lisa's abusive father who serves as the source of her nightmares, the enemies encountered in her dream world.
  • Blinding Bangs / Hidden Eyes: Lisa has these, and they're more likely than not symbolic.
  • 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, a surly drunk that controls every aspect of his daughter Lisa's life while also sexually abusing her.
  • Groin Attack: Lisa's murders of Tricky Rick are a sort of symbolic version of this.
  • Hub Level: The Lobby
  • Memento MacGuffin: The Necklace. We're never told why it's important, just that Lisa treasures it.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only three characters - Lisa, Marty, and Tricky Rick, who is still just Marty. Every other character is some variation of Marty, whether they are one of the melting faced men or one of the lake creatures. Even the woman from the final VHS tape in the game is revealed to have Marty's face.
  • Nobody Poops: Zigzagged; there are toilets all over the place, but there's urine (presumably Marty's) all over the floor. Interacting with 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: Lisa, at the Hamden of her father Marty, which is one part of what makes her so screwed up in the sequels.
  • Take That, Audience!: 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. The climbing gag makes a return in the Painful, but is Double Subverted in the Joyful, where it appears to have been replaced by a genuinely heartwarming note from the creator himself, only for the player to walk to the right and run into the exact same middle finger from the last two games.
  • 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.

    LISA: The Painful RPG 
  • A Winner Is You: Something of an Inversion - if Brad fights the nigh-unbeatable Buzzo and wins, Buzzo simply says, "You made a huge mistake. I'll end this world now." Cue unceremonious and instant Non Standard Game Over.
  • Abusive Parents: Brad has repeated flashbacks to his and his sister's abusive father.
    • Subverted by Marty, who, though initially an abusive parent to Brad and Lisa, is later seen taking care of Buddy and treating her relatively well, keeping her safe and telling her not to take the Joy pills. This doesn't stop Brad from murdering him on the spot, though.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A few prominent kickstarter backers fall into this. Matt and Pat will blow up a town if they get their hands on dynamite, and Mike Nnemonic is Satan, a bonus boss. Averted in the case of "Slave Lord" Jim, which fits Jim Sterling's online persona.
  • The Alcoholic: Practically everyone left in the wake of the Flash. Justified when you consider the fact that alcoholic beverages are one of the few options for hydration that can reliably survive a post-refrigeration society.
  • After the End: Set in a Fist of the North Star-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland during the dying days of humanity.
  • All for Nothing: Brad, having failed to protect Buddy (who now despises him), succumbs to despair and dies. He then turns into a joy mutant hours later, rendering all of Brad's sacrifices meaningless.
  • 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 Austin Jorgensen 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.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Most battle screens have (still) backgrounds made from a distorted, overlayed version of whatever the background was at the time right before the battle.
  • 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 are the Shadows in dark caves and snakes in the Playground and 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.
    • Marty Armstrong is beaten severely to a pulp and blown to bits by Brad Armstrong, but after all the shit he put him and Lisa through, he had it coming.
    • 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.
  • Author Avatar: Widdly 2 Diddly, the name Austin Jorgensen went under as the game's composer, appears as a man wearing a disco ball on his head and dancing wildly (and unresponsively) to his own personal rave in a small house on the way to the Joy Factory. Upon returning, you find he's hanged himself, and in the Joyful you can find his followers worshiping a sort of shrine dedicated to him. According to Word of God, he's hailed as a musical hero of the Olathian wastelands, and as such, the acronym "W2D" is graffiti'd in several areas throughout the game.
  • Background Music Override: Present during the Bloodmoon Mountain segment.
  • 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.
  • 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: There are two main antagonists, although it is initially vague as to whether they are working together or not. The first, and most obvious, is Rando, a Raoh-styled warlord who leads a massive, brutal army and is Brad's main opponent in saving Buddy, who has been kidnapped and delivered to him as the only woman left in the world. Brad also has to deal with Buzzo, an enigmatic warlord who is heavily involved in the Joy trade and is obsessed with psychologically breaking Brad for unclear reasons, though it is not clear what connection, if any, he has with Rando. It's later revealed by both the Joyless ending and the Pain Mode ending that Rando is not a villain at all, but rather a former student and adopted son of Brad's who seeks to repair the world, making Buzzo the true Big Bad. And Buzzo himself (who is implied to be the one who cut off Dusty’s face in the Pain Mode ending) is just a lacky to Dr. Yado, who created both Joy and the Great Flash (and who is also the Trumpet Man, seemingly an random NPC who can be seen hanging around several of Dr. Yado's labs).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. Right before Brad's final faceoff with Rando's army, the party members he'd previously abandoned show an attempt to stop him, turning it into Brad vs his friends.
    • Subverted with Brad as well. His last stand against Rando and his army is a battle most games would portray as a heroic, epic fight fought by a man trying to save his daughter, but not here. The battle is more disturbing than anything.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: BURN: KICKSTARTER BACKERS is one of the many, many things featured in the Credits Gag.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: A recurring theme. Brad's motives seem the most noble (save his adopted daughter), 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. Yet despite this, he comes across as better than many of his enemies, who are scumbags through-and-through.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Powerful enemies that are put into critical health will start coughing up blood, dealing themselves a bit of damage. Joy mutants also cough up blood occasionally.
  • 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.
  • Bookends: The story begins with Brad and Buddy together, coming across a lone daisy, and ends with a much different Brad passing by a similar lone daisy.
  • Boss Bonanza: The final boss fights, which consist of your party members, 3 waves of Rando's army, and finally Rando himself.
  • Bottomless Magazines: From bows to guns, absolutely nobody in Olathe needs to spend time reloading. Even if one could reasonably assume that they do it between turns, where do they get all the bullets?
  • 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."
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In-universe example with meta consequences; if Brad fights and defeats Buzzo, who is meant to be nearly impossible to defeat, Buzzo simply ends the game completely, giving the player a game over and forcing them to restart from their last save. If the game is in Pain Mode, this can be a particularly brutal punishment.
  • 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.
    • No matter what you say about Hawk Hollywood's looks, he'll take it as an insult and attack.
  • Call-Back: There are several references to the original Lisa game, such as the Palace where Brad finds different Joy mutant "art pieces." This area also gives him the map for Resort Island, which contains another call back in the form of the dirty area of the original Lisa, where everything is covered in red and yellow splotches. The mutated versions of Marty can be seen in the resort as well, and the room Brad enters upstairs contains the same couch and TV that Marty can be seen watching in the original Lisa, coupled with a happy Marty face from the white world sticking out of the TV.
  • 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. Satan is Mike Nnemonic, with his in-game identity as a trucker mirroring Mike's previous real-life job as such.
  • Chocolate Baby: One Flashback heavily implies that Rick's son isn't really his.
  • Cliffhanger: The story ends with a Joy mutated Brad crawling towards a sleeping Buddy. The Joyful picks up immediately after the Painful cuts to black.
  • Crapsack World: In a world with no females, society has completely collapsed. With the human race doomed to extinction, everyone is hopeless.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Should you opt to have Buzzo cut off Buddy's nipple, he gives it to you as a reminder of your choices. Additionally, if you let Buzzo cut off your arm the first time he asks to, he'll have it on the spike of his helmet the next time you meet him.
  • Critical Hit: Every attack has a chance of being one of these (the likelihood of these occurring can be increased via certain skills such as Terry's "Hype Up" ability). This is also the main appeal of getting the "Drunk" status effect- while you suffer a debuff to your accuracy, booze also buffs your crit rate, meaning that you hit like a truck on the rare occasion that you actually manage to connect a blow with the enemy.
  • Dark Reprise: "Goodbye Baby", played when climbing the insanely tall rope ladder and during the first round of the fight with Rando's army, gets a slower, more dramatic revision simply titled "Goodbye" during the very next round of the fight with Rando's army.
  • 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.
    • Also possibly a deconstruction of Badass and Child Duo. Being raised by a broken, traumatized man who has no problems taking the lives of others (optionally while also in the middle of the apocalypse) probably isn't very healthy for a child's mindset.
  • 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.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • 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.
    • If Harvey gets kidnapped, the ransom note will say "" in place of "guy." Also, Carp's ransom note will refer to him as a "creepy fish guy".
    • If you actually bother to go back to the construction site after killing everyone there for TNT, a guy will be there to block you from entering, bluntly telling you that you're not welcome.
    • If you climb the obscenely long rope to find the middle finger, you can't just suicide dive down to the bottom. You have to climb back down.
  • 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 Alibastor 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: There are a lot of enemies that will attack Brad and his gang for petty reasons. The crowning example is the Men's Hair Club trying to kill Brad because he's bald.
  • 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.
    • Fardy Hernandez, who you can choose to leave behind.
    • 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.
  • Double Meaning: Bloodiest Wolf, the chieftain defending the last blood tree, cryptically tells Brad that "she does not belong to you." Subsequent dialogue shows that he's referring to the blood tree, but the line can be taken as referring to Buddy as well.
  • 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.
  • Dominance Through Furniture: An area has one NPC, a cross-dresser, who lives in a house where all the furniture is people; tables, chairs, and even, disturbingly enough, a toilet.
  • Downer Ending: Brad finally finds Buddy, but she hates him for keeping her away from the outside world while neglecting her due to his drug use. Shortly after he dies from his wounds sustained attempting to reach her and becomes a Joy Mutant. He also had to kill his allies who side with Rando, though you will probably not have much sympathy for certain party members.
  • The Dragon: Interestingly, one of the minor Mooks in Rando's Army, Clint Moss, seems to be this to him. Aside from driving Rando's car, he seems to be Rando's confidant on his weak voice, and despite Brad steam rolling the entire army, Clint Moss lasts longer than the rest and is the only enemy in the final phase to be enraged rather than scared.
  • 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.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Fantastic Drug Joy makes the user happy, stronger, and in combat it even heals. However, it is also highly addictive, inflicting addicts with the withdrawal status effect, crippling them in combat, and causes the user to be ruled by their base desires. It also happens to turn the user into a Humanoid Abomination over time. Joy is the wedge that gets between Brad and every person he cares about, and ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The game makes liberal use of them, but the most notable examples belong to Brad, Marty, and Buzzo:
    • Brad's introduction features him defending his friends for stealing the ball of a bully, only to be beaten soundly and forced to trudge home severely wounded for his trouble. This becomes key in understanding Brad's approach to life and other people in the game itself.
    • Marty's introduction has him lobbing a bottle of beer at Brad's face just moments after he walks into the house, as retaliation for the fact that Brad was beaten. He also angrily states that he won't buy Brad new clothes to replace his ruined ones. Not only does Marty's intro show him to be a horrible man, but also explains how Brad became the way he is.
    • Buzzo's introduction shows him appearing out of the darkness, bearing a creepy and sinister grin, only for him to briefly break character the moment he recognizes Brad. This shows both Buzzo's role as a looming, dangerous antagonist, but subtly reveals that Buzzo and Brad have a much more detailed history than Brad or the players are aware of.
    • Queen Roger also gets a pretty fantastic one. In her introduction, some of the other Bees are dealing with a belligerent man who refuses to pay for their services because there are no "real women" in the Beehive. The commotion causes Queen Roger herself to intervene, and her presence is enough to make the man go from threatening the Bees to simpering and apologetic, just to get off of Queen Roger's bad side. Not that it saves him from her wrath anyway. She also has some of the most iconic lines in the game, stemming from just her introduction:
      Queen Roger: You messing with my queers, fat boy?
      Queen Roger: (in response to the complaint of no "real" women) Oh, for fuck- You play with a lot of lead toys as a kid?
      Queen Roger: I'm a crossdresser, not some pansy. Putting on panties didn't make my balls disappear.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Not surprising given one of the game's inspirations, but Brad and many of his party members are deadly martial artists.
  • Expy: Rando is one for Raoh. He's even not really a 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: Subverted. While Rage says he was only in it for Buddy, he will waste turns crying or stalling.
    • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Some characters, like RT or Crisp, admit that they've hated Brad the whole time and can't wait to pummel his face in, and they're not exactly wrong. Justified in Crisp's case however, considering that the only reason he's even in your party is because you took his boyfriend hostage.
  • Fantastic Drug: Joy, a painkiller that doubles your attack and defense and eventually mutates you into a hideous monster.
  • Father's Quest: The game is about Brad on a quest to rescue his adoptive daughter, Buddy, from Rando's army.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the flashback to Brad's childhood in the intro, if you wander all the way to the farthest right edge of the neighborhood you'll stumble upon and weird looking man with a suit, sunglasses, and a large looking nose. If you interact with him all he'll say is "Olathe... It's perfect." After beating the game and seeing the ending and cutting to black we hear a conversation between two men about Joy, Dr. Yado and Buzzo. As the conversation goes on, it suddenly dawns on you who that person was and what he was talking about, Dr. Yado was talking about causing the Flash and how Olathe was going to be the perfect testing ground for Joy.
    • 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.
    • The Native American tribesmen defending the blood tree all utter cryptic, ominous phrases after Brad defeats them in battle. They're referring to Yado, and they're discretely describing his fathership of Buddy, his ability to control the joy mutants, and his plan for world domination that manifests over the course of Joyful.
    Blood Mountain: He birthed her, he will have her.
    Blood Hawk: His song will make us all dance.
    • When you inspect Rando's body after his defeat, it says that "he's done" instead of "he's dead," which foreshadows that he's not really dead, leading to his appearances in the Joyful.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the end credits, strange bits of text appear interspersed between the actual credits, and you may not notice them at first. They contain phrases such as "Special Thanks: Martin Armstrong," "Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Love," and "Wake up Buddy Buddy Buddy." In the end it's revealed that these were Brad's dying thoughts before he mutated.
  • 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!"
    • Brad also counts. At the start of the game he's not much more than a washed up druggie, and by the end of it, has slaughtered everyone in his path, even the entire Rando Army. His starting class is even "Nobody."
    • Also Terry, if the player chooses to give him to Columbo's gang early on. He returns as "Terry the Terrible," an enemy capable of insta-killing party members.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The blending of the gameplay and the story is a hugely fundamental aspect.
    • The game is unique in that the Nintendo Hard difficulty actually compliments the story. The sheer punishing difficulty- tough enemies and bosses, limited opportunities to level up, limited mags to buy things, Permadeath, instantly dying if you go off a cliff, and many other things- serves to make the player truly feel how much of a Death World Olathe is. If the game had the standard RPG difficulty instead, it wouldn't feel as authentic in its portrayal of a post-apocalyptic hellhole. It's not called The Painful RPG for nothing.
    • Joy is a Fantastic Drug that can "make you feel nothing". It's also an item that can be used to give any character temporary, but ridiculously potent stat boosts. The downside is that anyone who has used Joy will get withdrawals if they don't take the drug frequently, which will make them practically useless outside of using magic attacks or support. To make things worse, Joy is a very scarce resource. Some party members, like Brad, Dick and Queen, come with Joy addiction and will have withdrawals regardless of whether you feed them Joy or not. Also, using Joy will affect the ending of the game.
    • Various events can directly affect Brad's playstyle as a character. Early on, he can get knocked out by an ambusher and lose some of his stats. Later, 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.
The clearest way to explain the presence of the grotesque mutated men throughout Olathe is through their item drops- Joy pills, which are known to mutate people into monsters.
  • Every human enemy has a name and unique appearance, and the attacks and move they use reflect their personalities and their current status. Sugar Mountain doesn't take you seriously and will occasionally check his hair instead of paying attention. Trips Breezer refuses to fight you, and will only block your attacks, stall for time, and cry. This is everywhere throughout the game, but the most prominent example is the Rando Army, who grows gradually more terrified of Brad as the battle goes on and will waste turns shaking in fear. And their lieutenant Clint Moss, rather than getting scared of Brad, will get enraged and stand his ground – demonstrating his unyielding loyalty towards his boss despite their hopeless situation Even Rando's moveset is relevant to his character. He can use the Buster Punches — a move unique to Brad's custom martial arts style — hinting towards his own connection to Brad.
  • During the Rando Army battle, Brad suddenly develops new moves in the middle of the fight (Scream and Cry) and the music changes to "Soft Skin", the song that plays when you fight the mutants. This is a direct foreshadow to the very end of the game, where Brad becomes a mutant.
  • Fireballs are described as "a blast of flaming emotion", but are more representative of how much of an emotional wreck the caster in question is. Brad himself develops larger-scale fireballs as he levels up and wrestles with his demons. There is an exception to this rule — Percy — but he's using a lighter and hairspray instead of actually throwing fireballs.
  • In the final area, after Buddy rejects Brad, his class changes from "Nobody" to "Failure", reflecting his mental state. Many of his physical moves will be replaced with fire-themed equivalents as well, reflecting the strength of his inner, raw emotion.
  • Terry Hintz's basic attack involves him charging up at the enemy and pathetically tripping and flopping on the ground. At the beginning of the game, he says that he pulled his hamstring.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Joy was designed as a drug meant to turn men into super soldiers. In a roundabout way, it succeeded. Joy grants users incredible power and a release from their pain, but it also has some unintended side effects — as in, it turns you into a frickn' mutant.
  • 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.
  • Guide Dang It!: The achievement, "...". After defeating Rando, instead of continuing to meet Buddy and trigger the ending sequence, you have to go back and find the man that would be revealed to be Yado, which is something nobody would think if.
  • 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: Rando, who leads his own Badass Crew; all of them with different armor, weapons and personalities, not unlike Brad's.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: 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.
    • Demon X, the villain? of the Salvation Rangers also accuses you of cheating if you beat him and gives a gameover.
  • 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.
    • Continues in The Joyful: after killing Lardy, Rando says that he transported supplies all around Olate.
  • 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...
    • Averted with the actual inns, though. Even the inn in Area 2, with the creepy music and the weird looking proprietor.
  • 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.
  • Last of Her Kind: Buddy is the only known female left on the planet, and it's not exactly a good thing to be.
  • Late Character Syndrome: Buffalo Van Dyke and Crisp Ladaddy are only available in Area 3, and Sonny Backluwitz is only available once you complete the EWC. By this point, you've probably got your preferred party ready to go. While they might help fill in gaps if someone gets killed off, they almost certainly won't be used for more than a handful of fights.
  • 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.
    • On the side of enemies, a lot of ridiculous looking enemies turn out to be surprisingly dangerous. The crowner has to be Kim Sex Machine, a male stripper with low health. And also has two insta-kill moves, which is typically reserved for mutants and bosses.
  • The Last Dance: By the time Brad faces off with Rando, he's very clearly mortally wounded, but he will still stop at nothing to, in his mind, rescue Buddy.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Shardy's Shanty, which plays whenever you get on a boat, only plays once in full towards the end of the game. The other times it plays, it cuts off after about fifteen seconds.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: Brad becomes this, following in his father's abusive and addicted footsteps.
  • 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.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Russian Roulette. It's entirely possible to run out of party members and be unable to advance; Brad isn't allowed to play, and you need to win three rounds in order to move on. There's no tactic for it besides Save Scumming and hoping you get lucky.
  • Magikarp Power: Terry Hintz starts out comically useless. His stats are dismal, and his only starting skill is Little Cheer, which burns through his pitiful SP to restore an equally pitiful amount of health. Despite picking up a couple of decent skills like Verbal Bash and Hype Up!, he's still outclassed by other early game party members like Nern and Olan. However, at level 25, he learns The Hottest Dance, which is the strongest attack in the game by miles, turning Terry into Death incarnate.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In some areas, a trumpet remix of one of the background themes plays. It's being played by Doctor Yado. Going up to him makes him stop playing.
  • Mess of Woe: After Brad attempts to quit Joy cold turkey, he is driven back to both it and drinking after being plagued by trauma and memories of his abusive father. By the time he leaves his stupor, his home becomes full of empty liquor bottles.
  • 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.
    • In contrast with the foreboding Devil's Bathhouse and the somber Blood Mountain, Holly Wood is a sunny level with goofy Non Player Characters, quirky landmarks, and cheerful music. Then you climb up to the top and see the Joy Mutant forms of the Salvation Rangers. Just a few screens after, you fight Hawk, who has two permakill moves. In Pain Mode, he's a Joy mutant.
    • In five screens you experience four lashes: On the first screen you meet Percy Monsoon, attempting to finish a bowel movement only for you to save him from a spider, then on the second screen you reunite with Rick, only to interrogate and go berserk on him, on the third screen you meet Joshie Brighteyes, a man with two eye patches, who tries to ambush you but only succeeds in swinging his knife wildly at the air, on the fourth screen you meet Buzzo again, who either takes your arm or kills a party member, and then finally on the fifth screen you get to run over a bunch of mooks on a motorbike for giggles.
  • 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 women, 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".
  • Neck Snap: Certain powerful enemies and joy mutants (often ones that lack the ability to bite) possess this as a powerful insta-kill attack.
  • Nominal Importance: Every enemy you fight (as well as every party member you can recruit) has a first and last name, even the Kickstarter backers. Austin mentioned in an interview that he'd given everyone some kind of identity to "keep encounters fresh", making every encounter with someone more special the first time, since you can't tell who's an NPC, enemy, or recruit.
  • Nintendo Hard: While it isn't extremely 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 Fair Cheating:
    • Buzzo was designed to be an unbeatable enemy, with ridiculously high stats and an AOE attack to boot, so attacking him at all is a bad idea. If you somehow do defeat him, he points out how bad of an idea this was and ends up destroying the world.
    • Demon X is an optional boss who, like Buzzo, is also an enemy you cannot win against. If you somehow do end up beating him, he calls you out for this before giving you a game over.
    "You fucking cheated. [...] You absolutely Are an asshole."
  • 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.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Near the end of the game, Brad finds his father Marty again after several decades and brutally beats him to death for all the abuse he inflicted on him and Lisa.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you lose all your party members when you get abducted by the Russian Roulette game master, you get a game over.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Olathe is a real town in Kansas, and its pronounced o-LAYTH-uh, not o-LATH.
  • Noob Cave: The ravine where Brad wakes up is plastered with signs written by Terry Hintz, offering tips about the controls and whatnot.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Resort Island is very reminiscent of Lisa: The First, using the same music and imagery.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: While sounding like a noble and well mentioned goal at first, Brad's quest to save Buddy not only costs humanity its future, but also throws what's left of it into chaos.
  • No Woman's Land: Quite literally. Basically all of the women are gone from the world, and the only one left becomes a serious Butt-Monkey.
  • 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.
    • One of the most scary features of the game is that some powerful minibosses and bosses come packing with special versions that one hit kill AND permanently slay your party member that was targeted.
  • Only in It for the Money: Some recruitable party members will outright ask mags from Brad in order to join him.
    • Also, towards the end of the game, some party members will admit that they are only in it because they wanted to "get some" from Buddy, as stated above.
  • 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.
  • Permadeath: 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content: 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. For specific examples:
    • That choice to give Terry away at the beginning is genuine, and you'll lose him as a party member. He will also come back to kick your ass later.
    • You will be attacked by the Scholar Boys after leaving Factory Town (which is not something that's alluded to), and they'll go on to destroy Factory Town if you're defeated; this will kill off everyone in the town and prevent you from recruiting Mad Dog.
    • After you get the TNT from the construction site, two guys (Matt and Pat) will appear in the far right of the area 2 and, if you interect with them, they will offer a fair amount of mags in exchange of some of your TNT. If you accept the offer, they will blow up Bob's Dojo with everybody around inside. It can prevent you from recruiting Tiger Man, Jack and Yazan, as well from buying the map to Dismal Island.
  • Poverty for Comedy: Ollie Nickels is a perpetually sweaty and poor man living on Garbage Island who's apparently tried to enter every business imaginable only to fail in all of them. In order to recruit him, you have to pay his massive debt of... two magazines.
  • 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. Parodied further as if you choose to take on the singles or doubles matches, the boss will tell you that losing in wrestling is like losing your life. With one exception, plus the royal rumble being excluded, losing does result in a game over.
  • 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.
    • Played straight with other pupil of Brad. A flashback shows Brad finishing their students training. If he interact with one of them, Brad will comment that he's too quiet recently and asks if something happened at home, which the boy doesn't reply. As reveleaded in Lisa: The Joyful, that boy was Buzzo and the reason of his "quietness" is implied to be related to Lisa, his friend which he had a crush on, being abused by Marty.
  • Rake Take: Weezy Silver's Kung Fu Gauntlet claims to be the toughest Dojo yet, but it's really just a series of these, and they don't even do any damage.
  • Recurring Riff: A sequence of notes that first appeared in Lisa The First's tracks "The Sireen's Call" and "The Royal's Call", appropriately, all tracks based around this riff in The Painful RPG's OST are referred to as "[something]'s Call".
  • 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.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Dusty and Buddy replaced Lisa for Brad. However, where Brad begins to legitimately care about Buddy, however misguided that care may be, he does not acknowledge his adopted son Dusty, and in the Joyful, he plainly tells Buddy that he never had a son at all.
  • 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, an overpowered character.
  • 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.
    • In Area 1, there's a creepy old man standing next to a bloody dresser. He offers you a special object for only 15 mags! It's an item called "Trust is for Suckers," and all it says is "You're an idiot. The End."
  • 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 Alibastor 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.
  • Serious Business: Pro-wrestling. The EWC promoter even lampshades it, noting that losing a Eternal Championship ranked match is a game over when normally wrestling matches are a non-lethal KO, because losing a push in wrestling is as bad as losing your life.
  • Sound-Only Death: Russian Roulette games end with a Smash to Black punctuated by a gunshot.
  • Shown Their Work: Austin Jorgensen 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.
  • Stealth Pun: Rooster's basic attack is called "Slap". Another name for a Rooster is "Cock". It's a Cock Slap.
    • The Marty spiders. They're a "Daddy Long Legs".
    • Terry's fighting style is listed in the artbook as Di Tang Quan, a real martial arts style based around tumbling and falling. His primary attacks are all based around this, but largely because he falls over from having pulled his hamstring.
  • The Stinger: After seeing the dying thoughts of Brad (including content such as "Taste her, It's your fault" and "Kill her, Brad Armstrong"), we are treated to the sight of Brad, fully mutated. The mutant Brad drags his body over to Buddy where she sleeps, and calls her Lisa, crawling up to Buddy right before we fade to black. If you've taken the Joyless ending, you're treated to a conversation between Buzzo and Yado.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: The main instrumentation in "Work Harder" is a (very) repeated sample of Delin's grunt from Shenmue II, which was previously used in Lisa: The First.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Before the third crossroads, you can clearly see the Joy gang hiding. You still have to trigger their ambush to continue on.
  • 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.
  • Take a Third Option: Subverted; whenever Buzzo gives you a Sadistic Choice, there's usually an option to fight him. Doing so is a very bad idea; at best, he'll just beat the hell out of you and then offer you the choice again, at worst, he'll beat the hell out of you and then do both the options.
    • You may also end up with the fourth option with you fighting him and winning. The result: Buzzo ends the world in retaliation.
    • Early on you're given the option of either giving up all your items (I.E. Some mags, a handful of restorative items, some armor, and a weapon for a later optional party member) or letting Terry get kidnapped. There's nothing stopping you from leaving all the loot laying around, choosing Terry, and only having to give up a handful of Joy.
  • Take That, Audience!: While the rest of the distorted messages in the credits are mostly horrifying, one of them simply reads as such - "BURN KICKSTARTER BACKERS".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In particular, Rooster and Crisp only join Brad's gang because their loved ones are being held hostage (Rooster's chicken Goldie and Crisp's boyfriend Toby), but Fly just really hates Brad due to being dethroned as the cart racing champion of Garbage Island.
    • RT also hates Brad for uncertain reasons.
  • 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 him being an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Underground Monkey: The poisonous snakes in Area 2's swamp are stronger Palette Swaps of the snake enemy from Area 1's playground. Otherwise, this trope is averted, with most of the enemies being unique and one time-only encounters.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Brad's point of view is 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. Very few enemies are resistant to status ailments, and they stack. See Game-Breaker for more details.
    • Played straight for Yazan's Bad Mews and Beastborn's Critter Clamp; they don't work properly, and only serve to waste SP or TP and lock out the character in question's skills for three turns.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: When you return Goldie to Rooster, your only options are to demand pay or demand that Rooster join your party, however, when you return Toby to Crisp, in addition to the above two options you can simply give him back completely free of charge.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: An early Sadistic Choice gives you the opportunity to give up Terry to keep your things. Given that Terry is initially useless, a player would be fairly tempted to trade him away. Terry will later return as a Bonus Boss at his full potential.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The Flaming Man on the "Snow" Mountain takes double damage from Water-element attacks, so to kill him faster, you need to do something that would logically put out or at least tone down his flames.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: There is no way to advance the game without beating Rick to a bloody pulp with a spiked baseball bat whether you want to or not.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Damn near nobody wears a proper shirt in Olathe (outside of the occasional football gear, poncho, or tank top), the most you'll find a majority of the population with is a shawl covering only their shoulders.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Charmy is the second 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.
  • Wham Line: From the Pain Mode exclusive ending scene:
    Dusty/Rando: Master Armstrong? ...Dad?
    • Earlier, if you're on Pain Mode, you can access the Joy Lab through the Nice Neighborhood. After walking through several rooms full of mutants, you find a corpse. When you examine it:
    She is dead.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Buzzo implies that there's a group of women hidden off from the rest of the world, but it's not elaborated on any further. Sweetheart from The Joyful is possibly a woman from this group. LISA: The Hopeful (which Dingaling confirmed to be canon) expands on this plot point.
  • 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.

    LISA: The Joyful 
  • Action Commands: All of Buddy's sword techniques.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The game now focuses on Buddy.
  • The Atoner: Buzzo after realising that forcing Brad to overdose didn't alleviate his guilt over Lisa's death.
  • Babies Ever After: In the "Free" ending.
  • Big Bad: The mysterious true ruler of Olathe, Dr. Yado, finally take center stage. After turning a good chunk of the population into Joy Mutants with his Joy pills, he subtly manipulates his daughter Buddy into killing all the remaining Olathe warlords and all other remnants of humanity, then tries to kill her once she is no longer needed to fulfill his dream of ruling a world without humans.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The "Free" ending ends with Rando, Buzzo and all the warlords (including the good ones) dead, and Buddy with serious psychological scars, but also with Yado dead, a Joy mutated Brad somewhat sentient and docile and most importantly Buddy grown up, healthy, safe from mutants, and with a child.
  • Bonus Boss: Harry, a hidden Joy Mutant. He has 99,000 HP, higher than even Satan or Sweetheart but beating him gives Buddy an upgraded weapon and lets you find Salvation Green's home and the Joy Mask, the latter of which is required for the alternate epilogues.
  • Boss Bonanza: Much like The Painful RPG, the final bosses are this. Consisting of Sweetheart, Dr. Yado/the Rando hallucination, the Brad hallucination, and finally Joy Mutant!Buzzo.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted with Bullet Tom, who spends turns in between rounds trying to load his gun.
  • But Thou Must!: Averted: the game assumes you're taking Joy, but you never actually have to.
  • Call-Back:
    • All of the main bosses of Area 3 in The Painful except Bloodiest Wolf (Hawk Hollywood, Han Tsunami, and Buffalo van Dyke) are on the bottom of the List.
    • The hallucination battle with Brad at the end recalls parts of the intro of the first game, especially the Dad segment.
    • In The Painful RPG, there's an NPC that wears a helmet, dances to music, and later commits suicide. There's a secret area in this game where several people are honoring him; what makes it further heartwarming is that they're among the few people that Buddy leaves alone.
    • The missing Salvation Ranger turns out to be alive. He isn't interested in Buddy, nor does he want to join her party.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Despite still having a few humorous moments, Lisa: The Joyful is much more dramatic and filled with Tear Jerker scenes than Lisa: The Painful, ironically.
  • Cool Mask: Buddy can collect and wear masks throughout the game, including Rando's, Buzzo's army's and A Terry Hintz mask.
  • Darker and Edgier: There's very little humor, a lot more subdued visuals and the games color palette is subdued compared to the last game. Ironic given the game's subtitle.
  • Death by Despair: Buzzo finally succumbs and turns into a Joy mutant after realizing that killing Brad didn't do anything but hurt more people, and that there is no way to atone for Lisa's death.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Joyful is rather more difficult than the Painful, and it basically hits the ground running. Buddy starts off the game rather squishy and early on you will have to rely on Rando to get by until Buddy gains some levels. And then Rando abandons Buddy, horrified at what she's become, leaving Buddy to complete the rest of the story solo. For reference, Joy was something of a GameBreaker in the Painful and narrative wise, you are encouraged not to use it. In the Joyful, Joy becomes essentially mandatory to completing the game.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. After the brunt of the abuse is done by men (namely Marty and the many pervert gangsters of Olathe) we find out that Buzzo fell in love with Lisa, who manipulated and abused him emotionally to mutilate her with a buzzsaw. The scene after leaving the Joy Lab also implies that she made him shut out his female friends, possibly due to insecurity. This led to Buzzo tormenting Brad and blaming him for his own mistakes. He atones for this, right before turning into a mutant
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In a mirror to Painful's pain mode, an update to Joyful added Larry Stinz who offers to make the game easier, which involves a stupidly overpowered weapon, 99 healing items, and two hilariously easy boss fights against Larry and a Scarecrow, after which the game spits you out to the main title. It was apparently added after a rude Steam user complained that Joyful was too hard.
  • Encounter Repellant: The masks essentially serves as this if you want to avoid unnecessary encounters in the towns.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Unlike the Joyful, using Joy doesn't affect the end game because Buddy is canonically suffering from Joy withdrawal. Additionally, with the scarcity of healing items in the difficult late game, it's pretty much impossible to go through the game joyless.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Buddy's goal is to kill all the remaining warlords of Olathe so that she alone rules the land.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Lisa. Her influence scarred Buzzo mentally, causing him to push the blame onto Brad and ruin his life, which then caused Brad to become abusive to Buddy, which caused Buddy to become the bloodhungry conqueror we see in this game. Although since Lisa was still a young girl abused to the point where she committed suicide, it might be more appropriate to say Marty.
  • Immediate Sequel: The sequel picks up immediately after where the Painful left off, with Buddy being attacked by the mutated Brad. She has to spend a few rounds of combat attempting to defend herself against him before help shows up.
  • Ironic Name: Lisa: the Joyful is anything but.
  • Jerkass: Buddy, while this is semi-justified due to her intense danger of being killed or raped, she acts openly hostile to people like Rando and Tooley, who don't want to hurt her.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Polka dotted flags that's the same pattern as Doctor Yado's appears throughout the second trailer.
  • Money for Nothing: In the second half of the game, the shopkeepers start turning into Joy Mutants and the game keeps pushing you toward using Joy, so the only real use for Mags is if you want to try out easy mode.
  • Multiple Endings: A number of different ones, dependent on whether you took the Joy vaccine or not, along with certain actions, causing two separate large endings and then 3 separate epilogues.
    • The two endings:
      • Free: Buddy comes to terms with Brad, Buzzo, Rando and her legacy, and decides to use the vaccine on herself. The somewhat sentient Brad-Mutant acts as her pet, and she controls the Joy mutant hordes with her biological fathers trumpet. Cut to Buddy years later, grown up and powerful, and now with a child.
      • Queen: Buddy rejects the cure and becomes a Joy mutant, ripping Brad apart and living with Rando's body, now the largest and most powerful joy mutant in Olathe.
    • The three epilogues:
      • Yado: Yado discusses his master plan of taking over the world with joy mutants with an unknown person (heavily implied to be Buddy's mother) and ends with him shooting her in the chest.
      • Lisa: Buzzo and Lisa discuss her abusive life, and Lisa asks Buzzo to maim her with a saw so that Marty won't touch her anymore. It's unclear whether or not Buzzo went through with it, and whether or not she died from the maiming, or if the maiming did nothing to stop Marty, and this is what drove her to suicide.
      • Father: A young Brad talks to his father, who forces him to drink his first beer after being asked how to be tough. He then says that he will take Brad (who is most likely intoxicated) to "go see his sister", heavily implying that he forced Brad to rape Lisa, or watch him do it. This is what most likely drove Brad out of the house and fuels his guilt.
  • Nintendo Hard: Oh yes. The fights aren't much easier than in the first game, and you only have two (later one) party members. In the later half, you're almost certainly going to have to turn to Joy to survive the boss fights.
  • One-Woman Wail: "Voices Hum", something of a lyric-less variation of the ending theme, "Voices", used as the title screen theme.
  • Parental Abandonment: Dr. Yado abandoned his daughter Nancy (now know as Buddy) as part of his plans.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The shopkeepers will start a fight with Buddy if she walks in without a mask and can ultimately be killed, locking her off from their shops. Even if you don't kill them, they eventually turn into Joy Mutants toward the end of the game.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Buddy goes from just trying to survive to wanting to slaughter all in her way, and becomes increasingly brutal as the game progresses. If you got the joyless ending in the previous game, you'll know why- Joy (which Buddy is taking) causes the user to become more violent and angry, along with fueling their desires to a twisted degree and making them unable to think about anything else, willing to kill any and all in their way.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After Buzzo saves Buddy from Yado's Joy mutant Sweetheart, he is badly mutilated by it, and finally succumbs to his overdose on joy and becomes a mutant himself.
  • Silliness Switch: 666 Kill Chop Deluxe seems to accompany the sillier encounters in the game, which is appropriate given its strange content.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome:
    • A big twist given right at the beginning of the game is that Rando is still alive. Guess who doesn't make it to the end of the game!
    • The green Salvation Ranger can be found in a secret area if the player collects a certain special item. He remains friendly even if Buddy talks to him without a mask. At some point after you finish The List, he commits suicide offscreen.
    • Bob Friday and the recurring merchant with drawers on his back turn into Joy Mutants after beating the first three bosses. The former is killed offscreen, while the latter will ambush you if you try to talk to him.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Buddy starts to fall apart due to joy use near the end of the game, hallucinating parts of the final battle.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Buddy goes from a girl barely trying to survive to a ruthless conqueror.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While Buddy acted cold toward Brad, she was never nearly this hostile in the Painful. This is possibly due to the Joy she's been taking and she seems to mellow out toward the end.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Due to her Joy usage, Buddy hallucinates throughout the game.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The enemies at Mr. Beautiful's pacifist village are completely optional and can be spared save for Mr. Beautiful himself and a Joy mutant.
  • Villainous Rescue:
    • Buzzo captures Mutant Brad before he can kill Buddy.
    • Yado commands a Mutant to stop Bolo from touching Buddy.
  • Wasted Song: The first phase of the final boss battle uses "Brokentooth March," which is a fitting song as you fight a trumpet wielding madman. The first phase is also the shortest and the boss doesn't attack you in this phase.







Alternative Title(s): Lisa The Painful RPG


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