One -Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party Review

I was curious about the origins of One-Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party; a mix of visual novel with Point-and-Click. There is a level of world building that is not normally present for such a short game. What I learned was that I will never underestimate the depth and breadth of an erotic artist/developer’s imagination again.

The story follows Beracus, a man on a mission to save his village that has succumbed to a mysterious disease. He is joined by Lee, an Elf that has a similar mental affliction to Beracus’s kin. Their adventure leads them to an underground bunker, where they become trapped with a family of cheerful skeletons that are sitting down for dinner. Beracus and Lee find themselves searching for clues to get out before they join the skeletons in permanent undeath.

To progress requires talking to family, and their butler, as well as finding items throughout the bunker that will solve certain problems. For example, convincing the matriarch to part with her sewing scissors (which is not as simple as just asking), so that Beracus can cut through a stuffed Moose’s mouth. All interactions are controlled by moving a cursor across static screens and finding items to highlight and either collecting inventory/information or triggering playful bickering between Becarus and Lee. The writer has put a lot of effort in rewarding multiple clicks on items and I particularly liked a gag involving a toilet.

The art style is some great line art with soft pastel colours and each of the static character expressions do a good job of conveying the dialogue or descriptions throughout.

The character writing is, mainly, tight too. Lee is a self-indulgent narcissist, who lets his whims take him where he pleases. The game stresses that it is not clear whether this is because of the infection, or whether this is just Lee’s personality (there is some exploration of this in the prologue that unlocks on beating the game). Becarus seems to be a well-meaning enabler; torn between trying to curtail Lee’s behaviour and just letting Lee bully his way through the story. The game supports this because progress can only be made by leaning into Lee’s worst instincts at times. The family of Skeletons also get some eccentric lines that emphasise the bizarreness of the situation.

The story makes side swipes at organised religion/cults and, given that this is the work of one person, I feel like they do a solid job of making the themes (hypocrisy, anti-intellectualism) compelling to read.

There are lots of good quality-of-life elements here, if the player triggers an already read piece of dialogue it is possible to auto-skip it until the player gets to either a choice, or a new section they had not previously read.    

The puzzles are also all pretty intuitive, and Becarus and Lee drop some heavy hints, so I never felt like I was stuck. Unfortunately, One-Eyed Lee has some gating that does feel tedious. The game is strewn with items that the player knows is important – a book, a sword, a fire-poker – but until they have triggered certain events, these items cannot be picked up. This can result in having to talk to all the family, until the right dialogue is found and then going to get an item, that cues the ‘this might be useful’ bit from the protagonists. Once would be fine, but this happens repeatedly.

Another unfortunate issue was that I encountered two scenarios where I was trapped with no way forward. The first happened where I was given 3 choices to makes, all three just looped me back to the options with no recourse but to reload a much earlier save. The second occurred where I had clearly broken a sequence and could not trigger the required dialogue to progress the story. My advice, create multiple saves at regular intervals as a reload might be required.

That said, One-Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party is clearly a labour of love and at this price I would strongly recommend fans of the genre checking it out.

Conclusion

For those looking for a short and funny Point-and-click/visual novel One-Eyed Lee is a good way to go. Just remember to have multiple saves to avoid getting stuck.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Solid art
  • Inventive story and world
  • The game does its best to avoid wasting the player’s time
  • Nice to see queer stories in games that are irreverent and not dour
Bad
  • Some of the point-and-click rules are too rigid
  • There are bugs that stop progress
7
Good
Gameplay - 7.4
Graphics - 8
Audio - 6
Longevity - 6.5
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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