Lisa: The Joyful (PC, Mac, Linux)

This game is the sequel of Lisa: the Painful so all the trigger warnings from the previous game apply which include physical, emotional, and sexual parental abuse, themes of violence, drug addiction, sexual assault, and suicide.


Also, here’s a spoiler warning. Seriously, I’m gonna spoil the shit out of the ending of Lisa the Painful in the next sentence. Here I go. At the end of Lisa: The Painful Brad tracked Buddy down, found her under guard of the Rando Army,  fought his way through all of them, and even beat Rando himself in order to ‘rescue’ her. Unfortunately, his use of the the drug Joy caused him to mutate into one of the deformed beasts that have dotted the wastes. Buzzo captures the Brad mutant and warns Buddy of the dangers of the road ahead. Rando, battered but still alive, convinces Buddy that they can travel to a safe place nearby.

After Rando recovers enough to travel they come to the border between West Olathe and East Olathe. The border is marked by an obelisk which lists the top gang leaders of the wasteland. Rando implores Buddy to join him in rallying his army and bringing peace to the world. Buddy has a different idea to bring about peace. Brad taught her to be strong, to kill anyone who would try to hurt her. If the world is so hostile then she will rule it by killing the other gang leaders and forcing everyone in the wasteland to bow to her.


Lisa the Joyful was DLC for the original game. It was created in response to Lisa Kickstarter reaching its stretch goals. And… that’s about it… it’s 5 dollars.

Fun Fact: Buddy is Dingaling’s least favorite character.


After the sheer silliness and exhileration of The Painful, The Joyful comes as a bit of a let-down. The gameplay is fine, the story brings Olathe’s tale to a close but the focus is off Lisa. Lisa’s is a tale of abuse and each of the games has been like seeing the ripples in the pond expanding from the nexus of the Marty’s terrible acts. Lisa: the First features Lisa as the protagonist exploring the realm of her mind. The Painful spreads out to her, remaining kin and failed protector, Brad and how her abuse shaped him and his actions. Then Joyful expands out to the third generation, so to speak, Buzzo, Rando, and Buddy who’s live were touched by Brad and therefore Lisa.

The ripples from Lisa are still present but it’s much more a story about Olathe, a world that I never grew much attachment to. It turns out that, as usual, asking the question is more interesting than answering it. Creating the world of Olathe, depicting a world without women, introducing the themes of abuse and suffering, that was all very interesting. As Olathe’s terminus, this game makes all the fade away.


Get all that? Good, get to killing.


Lisa: The Joyful plays almost exactly the same as its predecessor but it’s different in a series of content amputating ways. Buddy never acquires a gang and so there is no longer  a motley crew of drunken fuck-ups — she is accompanied by Rando but he is but one sober broken man. there are also fewer areas and fewer options in combat. Just about the only thing this game adds is the ability to jump — Brad was too old, Buddy is still young and nimble. She can also don or remove masks to hide her identity or provoke fights from any NPC — anyone who sees that she’s a girl will probably respond violently. Buddy’s techniques also introduce a sort of timed hit mechanic to inflict critical hits and additional effects.

The Gush

This game has a few crucial choices in it which will require separate playthroughs to fully explore. This game really wraps up all the loose ends and because it’s so short it’s not a bother to play through it multiple times. Of course, like the others, this game is full of secrets so look around and take advantage of that jumping ability. In short, it’s short and uses that to its advantage.

The Kvetch

Lisa: The Painful had so many hidden and secret characters and items. I feel like The Joyful with its elimination of companions, and limited items and weapons makes a game where the existence of such hidden things would be pointless. But… those were some of my favorite things! I mean, thanks for not bringing me to any pointless treasure troves but I do miss the joy they brought me.

It’s just you and Rando for most of the game so it’s important to think more tactically than ever before. This game is hard and will push you to use your noggin and your items. Think before you run off, get dunked, use all your items, and then get a save in which it’s nearly impossible to move forward. This game can easily put you in a state where you’ve got to start over because you’ve wasted too many supplies.

The Verdict

Although not nearly as entertaining or interesting as the previous installment — I would say it’s almost stale — I was willing to finish simply because it was so short and I wanted to know the end of the story. All the different endings tie up a lot of loose ends and put a nice bow on the story of Olathe, Brad, Lisa, and all those her experiences touched. For five dollars on Steam, I would get it if you wanted just that final drop of the Lisa experience.

Next Week: Fallout 3


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