Lorelei And The Laser Eyes Preview – You’re Going To Want To Write This Down

A real thinker.

Grab a pen and paper.

That’s my unequivocal advice for anyone going into Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, the latest effort from publisher Annapurna Interactive and developer Simogo – creators of the unfathomably-good Sayonara Wild Hearts. It’s been a hot minute since a game has made the act of writing things down feel so absolutely necessary and intrinsic to the experience, and in a landscape that’s increasingly digital it’s been a damned treat to be engaging in something so analogue.

I’ll admit I was very much drawn to this game based entirely on my love for SWH, so going in I actually knew quite little about what I’d signed up for. And after spending considerable time with it I’m still not entirely convinced I’ve answered that question. Thankfully, this is seemingly the correct mindset to have when playing Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, which is a game that thrives in the absence of truth. It’s a mindfuck of a thing, and as with all good mindfucks it starts with a woman, a car, a forest and a hotel with a mysterious history.

Note: I’ve tried to keep all of the below as vague as possible to preserve the experience, but if you’re keen on this game from what you’ve seen of it so far I’d probably recommend just hanging out to play it for yourself.


Two things become immediately clear when first booting up Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. The first is that it’s got an incredible, lo-fi-noir vibe that pulls from a visual identity that Simogo has established in prior games while establishing a strong look all its own. Shown entirely in black, white and a burning-hot pink, there’s a crunchiness to it all that echoes 90s-era movie thrillers and survival horror video games while also revelling in the abstract. Squared-off textures sit unevenly with the world’s geometry, moving and shifting unopposed as if they exist on another plane, grainy menus depict the state of your character’s bladder and her caffeine levels, sections of dialogue and narration are reduced to stark white text against a pitch-black void. It’s striking stuff.

The second is that, in spite of a premise that might come off as impenetrable and exclusive, this is a game designed with accessibility at the forefront. Simogo’s taken some great approaches to control for instance, with everything operable solely by directional input and a single button. Environmental interactions, puzzles, menus, all of it is done with just the one button or key which means this is a game you can comfortably operate with one hand, whether out of necessity or because the other is feverishly scribbling down diagrams and numerical sequences.


This proved to come in handy right away. With prior notice from the game’s PR team that I was going to need to pay close attention to just about everything I would see, the very first thing I did in game was pore over an educational plaque by the path to the hotel, where I learned what was probably a completely unnecessary amount about the forest I was in and its history as well as native flora and fauna. It was information that would become the first two pages of an entire notebook that the team had kindly sent me in support of my preview. I would go on to fill many more as time went on, and not having to take a hand off of the game or my pen at any point simply encouraged that behaviour further.

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Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a game about a few things, but largely it’s a game about paying attention. Very few things in the hotel exist without purpose, whether it’s to guide your eye, test your pattern recognition or hide answers in plain sight. Your overarching goal (at least as much as I’d experienced) is simply to make your way around the hotel to keep events moving forward, which is hindered by the near-totality of its doors being locked. Most of these are bound by two-to-four-digit combinations, sequences that you need to uncover on your own – not just what those digits are but which doors they apply to. Giving up even one example feels like it’d be ruining the experience too far, so I won’t, but the way that different puzzles and solutions layer and bleed into one another organically feels like black magic.


It’s going to be tough to dissect Simogo’s claims that the game’s non-linear approach to puzzles will make subsequent playthroughs feel significantly different, but that’s the other promise here. I definitely found myself adjusting to the more open-ended structure as I spent time exploring the hotel, where initially I’d beat my head against a wall trying to figure out a particular puzzle or riddle I quickly learned to just keep moving and exploring, and the answers would either come to me organically or as part of the experience, or I’d learn to simply abort the question entirely. LatLE does the wonderful puzzle-game thing of presenting puzzles that only a genius could possibly decipher, only to guide your understanding of its world and logic enough over time that when you inevitably return to that locked door or safe the answer is plainly and painfully obvious.

I imagine the same will be true of the story it’s trying to tell, which is something that my few hours with the game offered very few answers to. I get the sense that, as I come to understand the calculated madness of its puzzles, I’ll also be better equipped to make sense of the hotel’s peculiar inhabitants and mystifying purpose. As far as I can tell, my ultimate goal is to assist an eccentric film director complete his latest experimental endeavour, and my few fleeting encounters with him have brought about little more than new questions. 


There’s also plenty that I simply don’t feel ready to talk about yet, or that should absolutely be saved for the first-hand experience. This is the kind of game that creeps into your mind when you’re not playing it, the kind that has you sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night with the miracle of an answer to that one puzzle. It’s the kind of game that dares you to succeed and revels in watching you spiral as it locks that success in an iron safe. And the only way to open the safe is to learn how to read the Greek alphabet backwards in a Game Boy game.

I still don’t know if my intimate knowledge of the native flora and fauna of the Augenwaldburg Forest is going to come in handy, but it’s all there in the notebook, just in case.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes launches May 16th for PC and Nintendo Switch.