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Serial Experiments Lain

Developer / Publisher: Pioneer LDC
26 November 1998
Serial Experiments Lain - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.02 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
116 Ratings /
#196 All-time
#9 for 1998
Scattered audio clips of diary entries, counseling recordings, and diagnostic reports tell the story of Lain—a girl that can hear people speaking to her through power lines, is troubled by nightmares, and feels out of place in the world and in her own mind. A companion piece to the anime of the same name.
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1998 Pioneer LDC  
2xCD-ROM
JP 4 988102 167721 SLPS 01603 / SLPS 01604
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A shockingly underrated masterpiece hidden by the anime counterpart
~ Review based on lainTSX adaptation ~

I've been a lain fan for a few years now, it's one of my favourite pieces of work all-time and feels odd that I've played the game for the first time so far on the road. I remember watching a few minutes of gameplay after I finished the anime for the first time and it was so confusing that I decided to forget about its existence.

My initial experience with Serial Experiments Lain game is a good example of the main downside of the game as a whole, it's not an intuitive UI, it's hard to get into it compared to the anime. In fact, the gameplay mechanics are inexistent, maybe it can be called a visual novel, but, in my opinion, it is closer to an interactive audiobook.

The only thing you'll be doing is visiting different 'nodes' on a program, and each node will be a different file, mostly consisting of audio files of characters talking with random arts/landscapes in the background. Occasionally you'll find short video files, and the only real game gimmick is using Lain to navigate these files and search for a specific file that upgrades your software so you can access more nodes.

Understanding the basics of the game is a bit tricky, but it's not complex at all. There are different types of audio files based on which character it belongs to, or based on overall context. Reading an introductory guide will ease the initial confusion a lot, so I recommend it.

What makes this weird visual audiobook with unpractical UI extremely good is the overall writing and atmosphere. The plot is not the same as the anime, but they share a very large number of similarities. Lain being the protagonist is the main one, of course, but the huge emphasis in existentialism, memories, AI, mental illness (and so on) is also present. They are good complements of each other. The anime is a bit more surreal, focusing heavily on visual aesthetics, while the game is a bit more straightforward, reaching a wider range of themes in the story.

Different from the anime, there's a second protagonist in the game called Yonera Touko, Lain's psychiatrist. Lain is not linked with technology from the beginning, so there's a huge focus on mental illness, especially schizophrenia. The game can be played linearly, but it's up to you to choose the order you'll be viewing the nodes, so you might as well see events far in the plot in the first 10 minutes. I started doing it kinda randomly, but I switched to linear after a hour or so, just try it out and choose what you're more comfortable with.

For a 1998 game, S.E.Lain is massive, there's a deep exploration on topics like AI, technology, virtual reality, depression, suicide, schizophrenia, divorce and its impact on children, deception, dysphoria, extreme delusion, career choosing, even capitalism to some extent. The game is way more direct, full of information than the anime, it's all over the place, a lot of trauma filled scenarios and unsettling conversations perfectly written and performed, some segments are still a bit abstract, but it's nowhere as nonsensical.

Lain and Touko's developments are massive, they are extremely different yet assimilate in a lot of problems, paranoias, almost merging to represent one same entity. Once you get into the plot, you'll be craving for more and more, until you reach the very ending (that 'exists' this time around). It's a very niche experience, but I do believe every Lain fan should give the game a try, it's one hell of a psychological ride.
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EnnisDelMar 2022-04-25T02:55:43Z
2022-04-25T02:55:43Z
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Catalog

FullyOttoMatic Serial Experiments Lain 2024-04-04T06:13:25Z
2024-04-04T06:13:25Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SergLeDerg Serial Experiments Lain 2024-04-04T02:59:56Z
2024-04-04T02:59:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ultraaguy1 Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-30T04:07:12Z
2024-03-30T04:07:12Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
wintermere Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-27T22:39:22Z
2024-03-27T22:39:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MasterOfShaft Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-27T05:06:10Z
2024-03-27T05:06:10Z
Great
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ringevalley Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-26T20:19:47Z
2024-03-26T20:19:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Lilith_01 Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-26T02:01:50Z
2024-03-26T02:01:50Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kikiMaxx Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-25T08:17:47Z
2024-03-25T08:17:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MOPPIE Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-25T08:06:26Z
2024-03-25T08:06:26Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
1jud3 Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-23T13:23:20Z
2024-03-23T13:23:20Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
justineisdead Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-20T16:10:26Z
2024-03-20T16:10:26Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
GuySamstag Serial Experiments Lain 2024-03-19T02:18:16Z
2024-03-19T02:18:16Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
2x CD-ROM
Also known as
  • シリアルエクスペリメンツレイン
  • View all [1] Hide

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  • Previous comments (19) Loading...
  • ... 2023-10-02 20:33:33.832663+00
    I like the non-linear nature of this but i can’t really get behind navigating through the menus
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Regal_Throes 2023-10-10 19:52:16.944106+00
    This is as much of a game as Plumbers Don't Wear Ties or DVD menus.
    reply
    • ... 2023-10-10 19:59:03.590826+00
      it isn't gameplay centric but it would still be considered a game by definition
    • betaaaaaa 2023-11-18 18:53:29.924199+00
      wait until you find out about kinetic novels
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • youarefuckingcrazy 2023-10-20 13:34:30.8722+00
    they need to an an equivalent of the Experimental genre for games like this
    reply
    • Raylight 2023-12-28 21:06:04.662773+00
      "Strand type"
    • renegadexavier06 2024-03-16 04:54:13.35418+00
      File Explorer
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • brainbombsdude 2024-02-15 02:14:38.096859+00
    you do know that this is not a game?
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • grass25 2024-03-07 10:10:53.441484+00
    This game made my life worse.
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • MasterOfShaft 2024-03-22 07:38:55.52387+00
    I haven't finished this game yet, but knowing the ending of this while playing it is filling me with dread
    reply
    • MasterOfShaft 2024-03-27 05:18:46.02397+00
      great experience!
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
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