Lydia is a powerful game. It’s the kind of experience that, while very short, will make you stop and think about its story long after the end credits roll. It’s tense, funny, and heartbreaking all in one go, and with the option to purchase additional DLC in support of the Finnish A-Clinic Foundation, its underlying message will undoubtedly resonate with many people.
You play as the titular Lydia, a child with a highly active imagination trapped in a neglectful home environment. After her father tells her a story of monsters in the night, Lydia becomes convinced that monsters are real, and with the help of her beloved teddy, ventures into her wardrobe to confront her fears. To say more of the story would ultimately ruin it, but needless to say that a lot of what you see within the game is not always as it seems.
For the most part, Lydia plays out like your typical adventure title; you can directly control Lydia for large portions of the game, investigating areas of interest and talking to people within the environment. Other scenes play out more like a visual novel, occasionally providing you with dialogue choices as you progress through conversations. Disappointingly, we found on a second playthrough that many of the choices presented to you actually make very little impact to the overall plot, and this is particularly noteworthy in the final scene of the game.
What’s immediately striking with the game is the one-two punch of the visuals and sound design. It looks like an abstract graphic novel, and its black and white colour palette is very much reminiscent of Limbo, but with occasional streaks of vibrant colour dotted throughout to denote areas of danger or safety. The soundtrack consists of a mixture of sinister ambient music and emotional melodies, and the characters speak in a nonsensical tongue that somehow fits quite naturally in the overall experience.
With only 4 short chapters to play through, Lydia will only take you about 1 or 2 hours to complete, so those after more of a meaty experience might want to look elsewhere. We would, however, encourage you to experience it at least once, if only for its eye-opening message. It successfully tells a haunting story about abuse and heartbreak without necessarily shoving it down your throat, and that’s really hard to do. It’s one of the most emotionally impactful games to grace the Switch since its launch nearly three years ago.