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  • How Lobotomy Corporation Teaches The Value Of Bad Choices

    [11.09.21]
    - Josh Bycer
  • After finishing Library of Ruina I decided to go back and play Project Moon's first game: Lobotomy Corporation. Both games couldn't be further apart in terms of design despite being connected with the story. Lobotomy Corporation is a harder game to recommend, but it does present an interesting conversation about choice - and how making the player pick their poison can be a crazy experience.

    Running an SCP

    Lobotomy Corporation is the first game story-wise from Project Moon (I already covered my thoughts on Library of Ruina in another piece). Here, your job is to manage a corporation that houses all manner of creatures known as abnormalities with the goal to extract enough energy out of them daily to meet your quota.

    All this is told through a very dark story filtered through cute little chibi characters to hide all the horror. What separates Lobotomy Corporation from other games I've played is that you are fashioning your own nightmare experience when playing the game.

    Bad News or Worse News?

    The beauty and nightmare of Lobotomy Corporation come down to one simple fact - every choice you make is bad and will come back to haunt you. Every few days, you are required to choose another abnormality to keep in your facility. When you start playing the game, you won't have any idea what‘s what, but finishing their lore entries will stay persistent over different plays.

    The abnormalities come in all shapes and sizes and range from cute little knick-knacks that could be the star of a Disney channel Halloween movie, all the way to Lovecraftian threats that will destroy everything if they get out...which they will. To add to the danger, after you have worked with a specific number each day, you'll trigger a meltdown event - either requiring you to quickly interact with containment units or deal with a randomly chosen invasion in your base.


    Just one of the many things that can kill everyone if you're not paying attention

    Even when you know exactly which abnormalities you're choosing from, that doesn't keep you from picking the most dangerous ones. The reasons are:

    1. The more dangerous abnormalities give you more energy allowing you to speed through the day and deal with fewer meltdowns.
    2. They can also have higher-tier equipment unlocks, allowing your characters to better survive and dish out damage compared to low-rank gear, a necessity in the back half of the game
    3. Completing the game all the way will require you to learn everything about the abnormalities and complete specific side quests whose difficulty will be dependent on the abnormalities chosen

    In one play, I thought I was taking an easy abnormality until I realize that I installed a two-minute timer that if I don't keep checking will summon the "death train" to kill my people, and that's still on the lighter side of threats. Then later, I put in a creature who will cause a slime monster plague as I try to work with it. And then further still, I put in something that causes trouble after every five interactions with other abnormalities, including a certain death timer I just mentioned. No one abnormality (except for the hardest) is that difficult to deal with, but it's the combination that will frame your experience with the game. An abnormality that activates when people die doesn't sound bad if you know what you're doing but combined with one that goes on a murder spree the second it gets out is a very nasty combo.

    Every decision you're going to make in Lobotomy Corporation is inherently going to make things worse for you, and that is a rare sight for a game. In a way, it's the opposite style of what I talked about in games like Monster Train and Slay the Spire in which the player is deciding what cards they want to add to their deck to make it better. Either way, the player is the one in control over their destiny, one side is just more aggressive at it than the other.

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