The game might take place in an alternate reality from the series, features a cast of new characters, however it shares similar themes to the anime.
Serial Experiments Lain was developed concurrently with the anime, and was released shortly after its conclusion. Calling it a "game" may be a bit of a stretch, and the creators actually define it as "psychostretchware". Instead of actual gameplay, it acts more as an interface to access parts of Lain's story, presenting a multimedia experience that includes video, diary excerpts, and notes from Lain's therapist.
Although it never received an official English translation, a group of fans released a complete translated script for the game in 2014, which can be downloaded here. Additionally, a fully-functioning web browser port with multi-language support was published in 2021, and can be played here.
This game contains examples of:
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Lain's dark brown hair has a heavy purple tint. It's probably Purple Is the New Black.
- A-Cup Angst: Lain experiences this in comparison to her classmate Misato.
- Alternate Universe: The game might take place in a separate continuity from the anime and features a completely different plot. Major characters from the anime like Alice are totally absent, leading to a much different characterization of Lain.
- Art Shift: Despite being animated by the same team around the same time as the anime, the art style is very different. This was likely done to accommodate the Playstation's technical limitations, but also underlines how different the game is from the show.
- Anguished Outburst: Lain suggests Touko's work is full of "miscellaneous chores" and it causes Touko to snap.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Lain ultimately kills herself to live forever in the Wired as a ghost, much like Chisa Yamoda and Masami Eiri do in the anime.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The anime is relatively tame on its gore. This game? Not so much. It has a lot of blood and dead bodies. Lain slashes her throat, kills her therapist, beats up her dad's half-finished android, and ultimately shoots herself.
- Break Them by Talking: Lain does this to Touko, to the point where Touko begins causing her own anguish by anticipating what Lain will say.
- Creepy Child: After finding out that her records were hacked, Touko describes Lain this way.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Touko experiences this after Lain hacks into the institute's records.
- Darker and Edgier: It's more grim and graphic than the anime.
- Driven to Suicide: Lain shoots herself in the end. Played with in that she possibly only killed her physical body.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Lain's Mother after the divorce.
- For Want of a Nail: The game might take place in a much different universe from the anime. As a result, the story vastly is different, mainly what if Lain didn't have an Living Emotional Crutch, aka Alice? As a result, Lain becomes more determined to enter the Wired than anything else.
- Free-Range Children: Later on, Lain becomes one to an absurd degree. She pays a developer to build her a house.
- Freud was right: There's a video of Lain cuddling with her android father. The video is titled "Libido"
- Gaslighting: Lain and Touko accuse each other of doing this.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Much of Lain's instability comes from how lonely she is.
- The Hero Dies: Lain dies by shooting herself.
- Hope Spot: Lain gets into 8th grade, makes a new friend names Misato, and seems healthy. Misato is at best an imaginary friend, at worst a hallucination, and realizing this causes Lain's mental health to collapse
- Imaginary Friend: Misato.
- Replacement Goldfish: After Lain's parents divorce, Lain creates an AI replica of her father. She later tries to make a physical android in which to place the AI.
- Self-Harm: At one point Lain smashes a mirror and sinks a piece of glass into her neck.
- Trauma Swing: One of the video files shows Lain doing this. She also has one in her back yard, which gets overgrown with weeds after her parents divorce.
- Unreliable Narrator: Lain has hallucinations and Touko experiences Sanity Slippage so the diary entries sometimes contain information that is later contradicted.