Lisa: The Painful

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Lisa: The Painful
Lisa RPG Logo.png
Logo of Lisa: The Painful
Developer(s)Dingaling Productions
Publisher(s)Dingaling Productions
Designer(s)Austin Jorgensen
Artist(s)Austin Jorgensen
Writer(s)Austin Jorgensen
Composer(s)Austin Jorgensen
EngineRPG Maker VX Ace
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • WW: 15 December 2014

Lisa: The Painful (stylized as LISA: The Painful)[1] is a post-apocalyptic role-playing video game developed and published by American indie studio Dingaling Productions (now known as LoveBrad Games). The game was written, designed, and composed by Austin Jorgensen, and was released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux on 15 December 2014.[2]

In Lisa, the player controls Brad Armstrong, a middle-aged man with a troubled past who journeys through the wasteland of Olathe in search of Buddy, his adoptive daughter. Along the way, he is forced to make choices that permanently affect both his own well-being and that of his party members.

The game received mostly positive reviews, with praise for its darkly comedic writing and soundtrack.


Fighting a Snake in Lisa using "Armstrong Style".
Brad using the combo-based "Armstrong Style" in combat against an enemy snake.

Lisa features a combination of traditional turn-based RPG combat in a 2D side-scrolling overworld. Brad, and certain party members, are addicted to a drug named Joy that can drastically increase their power, but gives them withdrawals when they do not use it. The overworld features an assortment of settlements with shops and bars, where recruitable party members can often be found. There are thirty different potential companions; in addition, all of them but Brad are susceptible to permanent death through either scripted events such as Russian Roulette or against certain enemies, who will occasionally use permanent-kill moves.

In battle, Brad and some of his companions are able to use combination attacks using the "Armstrong Style" system, allowing the player to press a sequence of keys to use powerful attacks like fireballs. Other party members use a variety of techniques for both offense and defense, applying status effects such as poison or paralysis. Each party member has a different playstyle; for example, the anti-Joy crusader Ajeet's standard attacks are various Pokes that do no damage but provide guaranteed status effects on the enemy, and as such his only method of direct damage is through his special moves.

Throughout the game, Brad is forced to make choices that affect the core mechanics of gameplay. Depending on the player's choices, Brad can lose one or both of his arms; this drastically lowers his stats and increases his Joy withdrawals. Without any arms Brad cannot use his Armstrong Style at all and can only bite at opponents.


Years before the game's start, a mysterious event called the White Flash brought about the downfall of society in Olathe. This apocalyptic event caused the death of nearly every human female, leaving only one known living woman. Brad finds her as a baby and raises her in secret, naming her Buddy. However, she is eventually found and kidnapped, and Brad embarks on an adventure to rescue her. Throughout the game, flashback scenes depict a pre-apocalyptic Olathe, shedding light on Brad's early life, including his upbringing alongside his younger sister Lisa and their relationship with their abusive father, Marty. Brad comes into conflict with a man named Buzzo, who appears to be spreading a highly addictive drug named Joy across the wasteland that eventually turns its users into powerful, brainless mutants whose bodies grow unnaturally in different ways depending on their personality. He also finds Rando, the wasteland's ruler, who is actually his adoptive son and wishes only for peace. Later in the game, Brad realizes that Buddy actually left of her own volition, not wanting him to control her. Despite this, he continues his attempts to track her down, his personal trauma causing him to desperately fear that harm will befall her. He finds and murders his father, who had been living with Buddy, and eventually massacres Rando's forces and defeats Rando himself. When he reaches Buddy, however, she blames him for destroying her chances at freedom alongside Rando. Despite this, she allows him to hug her (or not if the player decides), before he transforms into a (relatively harmless) Joy Mutant.

The game's DLC chapter, Lisa: The Joyful, follows Buddy as she attempts to become the most powerful person in Olathe by killing the other tribal rulers appointed by Rando, despite Rando's disapproval. This causes the entirety of Olathe to collapse into conflict, and the number of Joy Mutants increases drastically. Rando eventually dies to raiders, due to his choice to leave Buddy's side. Finally, Buddy confronts Dr. Yado, her real father and a mad scientist who discovered Joy and used Buzzo to spread it in an attempt to destroy civilization. Yado is unable to murder his daughter, and is in turn betrayed and killed by Buzzo, who renounced his evil actions. Buzzo was formerly Lisa's lover and blamed Brad for failing to prevent his father's abuse leading to her eventual suicide, but realized that Brad was not to blame and that he was a good man. Buddy defeats the repentant, Joy-mutated Buzzo and can either choose to take the Joy vaccine and survive alongside the Joy-mutated Brad with the ability to control the mutants, or refuse to take the vaccine and turn into a Joy Mutant, murdering Brad.


Prior to the 2014 game named Lisa, Dingaling had created another game called Lisa that saw release as freeware on October 9th, 2012.[3] This 2012 Lisa is the prequel to the 2014 Lisa and stars the titular Lisa as the protagonist. Upon the 2014 game's release, both games received alternative names, Lisa: The First and Lisa: The Painful respectively, to distinguish them.[4] According to developer Austin Jorgensen, the original Lisa was inspired by a former relationship of his.

Lisa: The Painful was funded through Kickstarter with a goal of $7,000. The campaign was launched on November 14, 2013 and raised $16,492 from 847 people, reaching both of its stretch goals. As a result, Dingaling also developed a sequel expansion, Lisa: The Joyful, which features Buddy as its protagonist.[1]

Dingaling has cited EarthBound as his main source of inspiration working on Lisa, drawing from both its art style and use of comic relief in a serious setting.[5]


Aggregate scores
Review scores
Kill Screen81%[9]

Lisa received mostly positive reviews from critics. Praise was specifically given for the game's soundtrack, which was released as a separate download on Steam, along with an art collection featuring character profiles and concept drawings created by Chase Anast, the same man responsible for the Mother 4 project.[citation needed]

Lisa has received a handful of notable fangames, most notably LISA: The Pointless by Edvinas Kandrotas, and LISA: The Hopeful by a developer under the alias Taco Salad with help from other members of the community. Pointless and Hopeful (as well as all other fanmade efforts) are stated by developer Austin Jorgensen to be canonical. [11]


  1. ^ a b Jorgensen, Austin (November 14, 2013). "LISA RPG". Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "LISA on Steam". Steam. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  3. ^ Jorgensen, Austin (October 9, 2012). "Lisa "The First"". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Lopez, Carlo (September 8, 2015). "LISA is charming, heartbreaking, scary, and fun". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  5. ^ Smith, Adam (November 26, 2013). "The Sacrificial Limb: Lisa – The Painful RPG". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  6. ^ "LISA for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  7. ^ "LISA for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  8. ^ Barnhard, Thijs (15 February 2015). "LISA: The Painful RPG - Earthbound voor weirdo's". (in Dutch). Sanoma. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  9. ^ Carmichael, Stephanie. "LISA Makes A Monster Out Of You". Kill Screen. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  10. ^ Welhouse, Zach. "LISA - Review - Joy to the World". RPGamer. CraveOnline. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  11. ^ Jorgensen, Austin. "Tweet from Austin Jorgensen". Twitter.

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