Will O'Neill's 2013 narrative adventure game Actual Sunlight was a sobering yet excellent introspective exploration of isolation, suicide and socially misfitting protagonist Evan Winter's place in an increasingly dysfunctional society. O'Neill's latest venture, Little Red Lie, is due this Friday, July 7—which is no less emotive, evocative and relatable, and is yet another stellar example of thoughtful contemporary narrative adventure done well.
Despite covering equally sombre themes, Little Red Lie is arguably more engaging than its forerunner as it follows two central characters: one of whom is financially compromised, the other of which lives an ostentatious lifestyle that often borders on vulgar.
Every action undertaken, by both characters, is contextualised by some sort of lie—be that the latter's denial of his drug addiction, or how he claims to 'help' less fortunate individuals for a living; or the former's disdain for her parents and the strained relationship she endures with her suicidal yet seemingly wholly narcissistic sister.
I've not yet finished Little Red Lie, but having spent a few hours with an early build I've found that last part most interesting—particularly against O'Neill's previous work. Here, we experience depression through the lens of someone helping (or at least trying to help) another, which poses and answers some interesting questions along the way. But, like any narrative adventure game worth its salt, how you interact with Little Red Lie's choices, predicaments and ideas is most important, therefore I'm reluctant to dwell on the details here.
I'll leave that O'Neill himself. He explains: "The story of the game is very much inspired by real-world events. The massive, pending transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their descendants, the increasingly precarious state of the economy, and even the political forms of our most terrifying leaders are sure to be discovered."
O'Neill continues: "And whereas Actual Sunlight touched introspectively on the issue of depression, this game sees that condition very much from an opposing and less-sympathetic perspective: Specifically, the family of a depressed person whose condition has very much torn them apart. It's a complex and emotional game, but I don't think there has ever been anything quite like it."