LISA: Definitive Edition is the updated collection of LISA: The Painful, originally released in 2014 via RPG Maker, and its sequel, LISA: The Joyful. These new releases are extended with new quests, bosses, and secrets. There’s even a new difficulty mode alongside Normal and Painful; Painless, for those who just want to experience the story.

Olathe has experienced a mysterious phenomenon; the ‘White Flash’ has wiped out all women, crumbling society as it was previously known. The protagonist of LISA: The Painful, Brad, is a victim of this new society, hooked on a drug called Joy. When he stumbles across a baby girl, who he names Buddy, he raises her and keeps her safe from the wider society. Before long Buddy goes missing and Brad sets out to find her, going on a rampage of murder and destruction to get her back.

Picking up where the first game leaves off, LISA: The Joyful features Buddy as the main protagonist and other characters from the original assisting her on her path. Our protagonists aren’t facing their struggles solo, and you can recruit teammates to bulk out the party.

Team members all have different combat specialties. Brad is a karate master, while in the sequel Buddy’s preferred weapon is a knife. Every recruitable teammate also has their own specialty, and we were drawn to some fighting styles more than others. Levelling characters up means they learn more skills, which are used by spending TP or SP. Battles can be really tough, and there does seem to be a sharp difficulty spike in both games, even playing on Normal as we did.

Character design borders on grotesque at times, adding to this feeling of unease, and the soundtrack is often grating, especially in battle. Characters are annoying, even those you recruit to your party, and it really feels like you're stuck with them with no better options. Just like you can imagine it would be in a real apocalyptic situation, you have to deal with what you’ve got.

The games introduce some interesting stat changes which we’ve rarely seen before; withholding Joy from Brad causes him to go into withdrawal and tanks his stats. Characters can get the Crying stat, which affects their accuracy. Others are ‘Weird’, ‘Depression’, and ‘Mega Cool’; there’s five pages of status effects in the glossary, so it feels the possibilities are almost endless. This is a minor gripe; there are just too many, and none are explained when in combat or the real world, not even the first time you experience them, so it really takes going into the tutorial tome (found through the item menu) to figure out what an effect actually does.

There are some really uncomfortable themes throughout both of the LISA games, both opening with a reminder that the protagonists are over 18. This warning doesn’t make these feelings go away, and we found that there was a general sense of unease throughout the entire playthrough – but then, this is wholly intentional. Neither of these games are sunshine and rainbows, so it does its job perfectly. LISA: Definitive Edition will leave you thinking for days after completion about the complexities of the human condition. It’s a deep experience packaged in a grotesque and uncomfortable game.