L.O.L.: Lack of Love

released on Nov 02, 2000

L.O.L: Lack Of Love, is an evolutionary adventure game developed by Love-de-Lic and published by ASCII Entertainment for the Sega Dreamcast. The game was released exclusively in Japan on November 2, 2000.

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Lack of Love walked so Spore could run.

Despite its obtuse nature and rough edges, Lack of Love is a game that I think everyone should try at least once in their life.
Lack of Love is universal minimalist storytelling at its finest. Without any words, it conveys a beautiful story that captures the essence of life through its mechanics and striking imagery.
The world is frustrating, unforgiving and cruel. It never truly makes sense beyond its primitive, biological foundation. Despite it all, we grow and change through learning to understand said world and its inhabitants. Love is the key to this. The compassion we have for one another is what keeps it going. It's what keeps us all going.
The L.O.L. project demonstrates that without love, the world is an artificial paradise devoid of meaning and dignity. It's because of this that the project is a failure, and that the world as we knew it continues to live on.
After all, to live is to love.

One of those epochal clashes between dirty, abrasive, endearing eco-romance and cute, sinister Y2K-era techno-optimism turned satire of imperialism. These angles lock arms in a subtle but ever-looming creation story of what video games, as puzzle boxes and a storytelling medium, could become in the new millennium. Love-de-Lic finally mastered this kind of anti-RPG disguising a clever adventure, and L.O.L's occasional flaws rarely distract from the majesty and sheer emotional gamut this offers. Here's a Gaia of broken promises, uprooted existence, twisted social covenants, and how to survive and adapt in a harsh universe where we're the only love we give.
Completed for the Backloggd Discord server’s Game of the Week club, Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, 2023
If Moon RPG was a thesis polemic and UFO a dissertation, then Lack of Love was Kenichi Nishii & co.'s post-doctorate trial by fire. The era of overly experimental, often commercially unviable projects like this on PlayStation, SEGA Saturn, and now Dreamcast was slowly in decline. Almost all the post-bubble era investment capital needed to support teams like them would filter increasingly into stable, more conservative groups and companies working on console games. In a sense, they saw themselves as a dying breed, the kind that gets stomped all over in this year-2000 cautionary tale. I'm just glad Ryuichi Sakamoto helped produce this and get it to market, especially given the system's poor performance in Japan. His music and environmentalist/anti-capitalist stance stick out at times throughout the story, but he's mainly taking a backseat and giving Love-de-Lic their last chance to create something this ambitious together. In all the years since, the studio's staff diaspora has led to countless other notable works, and parts of L.O.L. both hint at those while revealing what was lost.
We're far from Chibi-Robo or the Tingle spinoffs here, after all. Lack of Love shows unwavering confidence in the player's ability to roleplay as this evolving, invisibly sentient creature who experiences many worlds on one planet, both native and invasive. Every real or fake ecosystem we travel to, whether by accident or in search of respite, offers enough challenge, task variation, and indulgent audiovisuals to keep one going. I wish I could say that for more players, though. It might not reach the difficulty and obtuseness of much older graphic adventures from the Sierra and Infocom glory years, but I've seen enough people who like classic games bounce off this one to know it's a hard ask. You have no choice but to poke, prod, and solve each environment with verbs you'd normally never consider, such as simply sleeping in a spot for longer than feels comfortable or, well, interesting. It's more than beatable, but I won't begrudge anyone for watching this or relying on a walkthrough. LDL designed L.O.L to be dissected, not gulped down. Tellingly, though, the game starts and ends with a titanic beast possibly devouring you unless you act quickly, instinctively perhaps.
One moment that frustrated me, but also revealed the genius behind it all, was trying to race the bioluminescent flyers on level 5. By this point I've transformed a few times, having become a frilly flightless fellow with plenty of brawn and speed. Darting across this mixture of bizarre swamp, desert, and grassland terrain has led to what feels like a softlock, a set of plant walls I can only squeeze by if I use the right tool. Lack of Love succeeds in telegraphing points of interest for most puzzles, be it the obvious dirt starting line for the night races in this grove, or the cold and minimalistic off-world objects and structures seen later. What's never as obvious is how exactly to interact with other creatures for more complex tasks. Helping out by killing a larger bully or retrieving a parent's lost child is straightforward, but something as simple as just entering the race used a good hour of my time here. Oh sure, I could win the race all right…but it took way too long for the game to recognize and reward me, forcing another long wait from night to day and back again since there's only one lap a cycle.
I recognize that my impatience got in the way of just accepting this, one of life's many setbacks. So I simply waited all day and half a night to repeat the ritual until I got it right. A majority of L.O.L's dialogue with players and critics comes down to how it considers rituals, those habits justified & unjustified which define our daily lives. If anything, the interrogation of normalized behaviors, and the true intentions or lack of them hiding behind, define the studio's short career. As I gorged on helmet-headed stilt walkers and headbutted tree-nuts to slurp up their fruit, it dawned on me how well this game handles repetition. Many times did I get entranced into calling, roaring, and pissing all over each map to see if some cool event or interaction could happen where it'd make sense. Most of these levels are well-built for quickly crossing from one relevant hotspot to another. That desire to see it all through, no matter when I got humiliated or had to slog past something I'd solved but failed to do just right at just the right moment…it makes all of this worthwhile.
Progression throughout Lack of Love isn't usually this janky or unintuitive though. The game's main advancement system, the psychoballs you collect to activate evolution crystals, accounts for skipping the befriending process with some of your neighbors. It makes this a bit more replayable than usual for the genre, as you can leave solving the tougher riddles to a repeat run while continuing onward. I wish there wasn't anything as poorly built as this firefly race, or the somewhat tedious endgame marathon where your latest form can't run. But while that impedes the game's ambitions somewhat, it usually isn't a dealbreaker. LDL's crafted an impressive journey out of life's simplest moments, pleasures, and triumphs over adversity, from your humble start inside a hollow tree to the wastes of what the eponymous human resettling project has wrought. There's only a few "special" moves you can learn, from dashing to
In short, L.O.L. is a study of contrasts: the precious, vivacious yet forever dangerous wilds of this planet vs. the simpler, stable yet controlling allure of organized systems and societies. Nothing ever really works out in nature, not even for the apex predators like me. Yet everything has to work according to some plan or praxis in any form of civilization, something made possible through explicit communication. Love de Lic's challenge was to treat players with as much respect for their intelligence as possible before giving them something inscrutable—no straight line to triumph. This game had to feel alien, but still somehow understandable for its themes and messages to resonate. It's an unenviable goal for most developers. Just ask former LDL creators who have moved on to more manageable prospects. Obscurantism is a mixed blessing all throughout the experience, and I can't imagine this game any other way.
The opening level at least prepares you for the long, unwieldy pilgrimage to enlightenment through a few key ways. Popping out of the egg, swimming to shore, and the camera panning over a creature evolving via silver crystals gives a starting push. Then there's the initial "call for help", a newborn creature struggling to get up. Getting your first psychoball requires not aggression, but compassion for other ingenues like you. On the flipside, you end up having to kill a predator much larger and stronger than yourself, just to save harmless foragers. I definitely wish the game did a better job of avoiding this Manichean binary for more of the psychoball challenges, but it works well this early on. Maybe the initially weird, highly structured raise-the-mush-roof puzzle west of start was a hint of more involved sequences either planned or cut down a bit
Crucially, the following several stages demonstrate how Lack of Love's alien earth is far from some arcadian paradise. The game simply does not judge you for turning traitor and consuming the same species you just helped out; regaining their trust is usually just as easy. One look at the sun-cracked, footstep-ravaged wasteland outside your cradle portends further ordeals. LDL still wants you to succeed, however. The start menu offers not only maps + your current location for most levels, but a controls how-to and, most importantly, a bestiary screen. It's here where each character's name offers some hint, small or strong, pointing you towards the right mindset for solving their puzzle. Matching these key names with key locations works out immediately, as I figured out with the "shy-shore peeper" swimming around the level perimeter. Likewise, the next stage brought me to a labyrinth of fungi, spider mites, and two confused gnome-y guys who I could choose to reunite. Taking the world in at your own pace, then proceeding through an emotional understanding each environment—it's like learning how to breathe again.
L.O.L finds a sustainable cadence of shorter intro levels, quick interludes, and larger, multi-part affairs, often split up further by your evolution path. Giving three or five psychoballs to the crystal altars sends you on a path of no return, growing larger or more powerful and sometimes losing access to creatures you may or may not have aided. The music-box pupating and subsequent analog spinning to exit your shell always pits a grin on my face. Rather than just being punctuation for a numbers game (ex. Chao raising in Sonic Adventure, much as I love it), every evolution marks a new chapter in the game's broader story, where what you gain or lose with any form mirrors the existential and environmental challenges you've faced. As we transition from the insect world to small mammals and beyond, the heal-or-kill extremes ramp up, as do the level designs. I wouldn't call Love-de-Lic's game particularly mazy or intricate to navigate, but I learned to consult the map for puzzles or sleeping to activate the minimap radar so I could find prey. It'd be easy for this evolve-and-solve formula to get stale or ironically artificial, yet LDL avoids this for nearly the whole runtime!
Early hours of traipsing around a violent but truly honest little universe give way to a mysterious mid-game in which L.O.L. project puppet Halumi intervenes in the great chain of being. An impossibly clean, retro-futurist doll of a destroyer plops down TVs in two levels, each showing a countdown to…something big. Nothing good, that's for sure, and especially not for the unsuspecting locals you've been trying to live with. So far it's mostly just been a couple short tunes and Hirofumi Taniguchi's predictably fascinating sound design for a soundscape, but now the iconic tune "Artificial Paradise" starts droning in the background. Musical ambiance turns to music as a suite, a choreographed piece overriding the vocals and cries you know best. Then the terraformer bots come, and the game introduces another stylistic dalliance: the disaster movie removed from civilization. We've gone from colorful, inviting, mutualistic landscapes to invaded craggy rocksides, a very survival horror-ish insect hive where you play Amida with worker bugs, and a suspiciously utopian "final home" for our alien cat and others just like us.
The final levels satisfyingly wrap all these loose threads into a narrative on the ease with which precarious lives and ecology fall prey to not just the horrors of colonization, but the loss of that mystery needed to keep life worth living. Neither you nor the last creatures you help or save have time or dignity left as the L.O.L. project faces its own consequences, radiating across the world in turn. But I'm familiar with that shared dread and understanding of what it's all coming to, as someone living through destructive climate change my whole lifetime. How does one carry on in a land you remember functioning before it was poisoned? What can family, friends, mutual interests, etc. do against the tide of sheer, uncaring war or collapse?
There's a definite rage hiding behind Love-de-Lic's minimalist approach, only rising to the surface at the game's climax. You can taste the proverbial cookie baked with arsenic, a barbed attitude towards living through these times after growing up hoping and expecting a bright tomorrow. To make it out of this world alive takes a lot of seriousness, but also heart and a sense of humor, which Lack of Love never lets you forget. The ending sequence had me beyond relieved, overjoyed yet mournful about how no environmentalist hero's journey of this sort seems to work beyond the plane of fiction. Is it a lack of love consuming us, or the forced dispersion of it? L.O.L. justifiably refuses to give a clear answer, something even its developers are searching for. It's not the most sophisticated kind of optimistic nihilism anyone's imbued in a work, but a very fitting choice for this adventure.
Plot and thematic spoilers ahead
Friendship, whether convenient or desirable on its own, becomes even more important during the second robot attack you suffer through. A mutual species has been living with your newfound family, and one of these more plant-/shroom-shaped fellows is still mourning their dead feline pal near the bottom of the map. Yet again, though, rituals and routines like the egg worship above supplant the ignored pain and due diligence owed in this community. Shoving the guy away from an incoming bulldozer, only to get squashed yourself, is the most you end up doing in this apocalypse. It only gets worse after awakening not in the natural world, but an eerie facsimile of it, built aboard the L.O.L. spaceship that we saw dive into the planet with a virus' silhouette. Even highly-evolved lifeforms, now able to talk in bursts and build a structured society, lose sight and make mistakes. But only humanity can play God for these fauna and flora, such that you're imprisoned in a hell superficially resembling home.
Gone are the toils of comprehending other species, or stumbling haphazardly through situations that should have killed you long ago. All that Halumi and the humans want from you, their obscure object of desire, is to pass basic push-and-pull block mazes. Imagine sitting down for your high school exams, having studied the world and its intricacies for so long, only for them to hand you an arcane IQ test. There's no assumption of ecological intelligence in the robot's data banks or AI model, just a delight in watching you wriggle through Backrooms Sokoban. Halumi merely chuckles as you clear each room, then lures you into an abstract abyss of phosphenes just to play tag. We then watch the banal. comically on-the-nose mission video recounting humanity's failure to manage their own planet and ecosystem, meaning they must export their hopes, dreams, waste, and destruction to another. Some reward for getting this far in a contrived, worthless series of "tests" they're apparently obligated to perform.
And you'll quickly notice your suffering isn't that unique, either. The quote-unquote habitat caging you is policed by Halumi's robots and, more bizarrely, flying baby androids dispensing this game's send-up of pet food. It's clearly nothing too healthy or appropriate for the menagerie of organic inhabitants imprisoned on this ark. They're literally shitting themselves everywhere they go after eating! And those who fail the tests get treated as literal waste, too. Falling into the scrap closet, with its once-pristine walls peeling and the remaining animals suffering without dignity, shows the depths that this whole "sustainable" planetary resettlement program has sunk to. Some might say the game gets much too unsubtle at this point, which I can agree with. But given the current state of poaching, zoos-as-businesses, habitat displacement, industrial ranching, and careless pet adoption in our own world, maybe these messages work best when they're blunt. Halumi forcing his units to not kill, study, and presumably burn you up after just for failing a test is perhaps the only sign of remorse this antiseptic dungeon offers.
Impressing Halumi with each test comes to a head when we're given a Hobson's choice: the hilariously, insultingly ugly baby-bot or the friend we had sacrificed our safety for back in the pridelands. Predictably, you get thrown in the trash again for making the better choice. Choosing the infant, and all that humanity represents through Halumi and their army, merely makes you a glorified pet for the robot, stuck in the same fancy hotel room as two other dubiously lucky critters (plus Dave Bowman on the bed, out of camera—IDK, this feels like a 2001 reference just as much as the game's intro). Did I mention we haven't evolved for quite a while now? Guess what you become next: an awkward, baleful mirror of the baby from earlier, unable to run and too oversized for these new comforts purportedly made with kids in mind.
No one's at home here, not even the robots if that's even a concept they're built to comprehend (which I doubt). We may be out of hell, but this purgatory isn't much better. After helping the alligator with the shower and the flowery bloke with table manners, the soft but melancholy downtempo lounge of Sakamoto's "Dream" rings out from the hi-fi stereo. Beyond being one of my new favorite melodic ambient songs in any soundtrack, it perfectly conveys how much these "successful" test animals have lost, something we're used to even as we resist the circumstances. It's their last respite, just as playing this game might, for some, be an escape from our own degrading world in which we're seemingly powerless to stop the bleeding.
To the master robot's credit, they aren't too keen on keeping us here at all costs. Halumi's got big plans to fulfill, as they're quick to shoo us off from the ship's bridge. A quick peek outside the rocket shows the beginnings of an American-style highway going nowhere good, and an abnormal dust storm blowing every which way. I tried looking at my map here and found, to both horror and amusement, that there is no map at this point in Lack of Love. The protagonist's been disconnected from the outside world for so long, and exposed to the hubris and demystification of these captors, that only what intuition's left can lead the way out of here. L.O.L gives you compelling, frustrating predicament: stay in the Artificial Paradise—the map of the realm consuming the realm itself, Borges' fabled copy corrupting and then replacing the original—or finish your pilgrimage, an impossible trek through a ruined, desiccated, hopeless bastardization of home?
LDL already knows I'm going to press onward. That’s what they taught me, this new citizen of the earth, right from the start! And of course it's painful, having nothing to feed on as I crawl desperately towards a far-off exit, saving a primate friend in the process. But hope re-emerges when reuniting with that friend from the village, waiting so long to see if we're okay. The story's optimistic views on mutualism within anarchy finally collide with all the forced order and folly of its antagonists. Few moments in video games feel as biting and final as this last set-piece, a forced run away from falling tectonic plates as the L.O.L project finally collapses under the weight of all its systemic damage to the planet. We also have one last metamorphosis, saving you from death by hunger and replacing the corrupted infant form with one resembling an early human, alternating between running on twos and fours. All the player's achievements, elation, and suffering have built up to this, whether there's survival or mere death waiting at the end.
In the end, L.O.L. opts for a happy ending it's done everything to suggest can't happen. The planet rejects the virus, despite having deteriorated so much it loses its magnetic field. All of Halumi and the robots' systems suffer systemic collapse, preventing much more fatal consequences had they continued sapping the global lifeforce. Most importantly, our "hero" and boon companion crest the mountain in time to witness god rays breaking through the storm that had slowed us and threatened doom. I put hero in quotes because, just as with Moon RPG a few years prior, Nishii can't let us leave this fantasy as models to be revered, icons of victory beyond reproach. Even our protagonist had to invade, predate, and take from others their tokens of trust and acceptance, all to reach this point. But in an imperfect reality, this hardly makes us the villain either. This remarkably smart, courageous, and wise duo prevailed against odds not to prove something or selfishly leave this world behind, but to support each other during an eschatological nightmare. Just as that lack of love nearly ruined this world, the overwhelming abundance of it is finally enough to get you and someone else through the end times. Even if it didn't work, would it not have been worth it?
Our story passes on into collective memory, but Halumi's is just beginning. They're an embarrassment to their creators' hopes and whims, the once innocuous but now disgraced mascot of colonialism. Moreover, bots like Halumi and the minions are simply expendable metal to forge anew. L.O.L. ain't gonna stop at just one failure on a single planet, not with humanity's future at stake. So they'll try their luck elsewhere, and probably destroy that wandering rock in the name of civilization. But not this world. This once dominant predator from the heavens is just another vulnerable denizen now, and that's what frees them. The giant who once wielded an army and crushed all biomes to bits now gingerly steers clear of the smallest critter it meets. Halumi's learned to love the world as it is, not from orders on high or as a sandbox to redevelop. And so the circle of life incorporates one more host, a guilty conscience on the way to carving a new, more empathetic destiny from what's left.
End of spoilers
One has to wonder how delicately and effortlessly this game touches on something as complicated as anarchy vs. hierarchy. Both protagonist and antagonist ultimately seek a place in their world: a mercurial, fluid entity among the bio-sprawl, or a cybernetic King Canute damming the primordial ocean of life and commanding its tides. There's a clear throughline from Moon RPG's evil-hero-good-interloper dynamic to the equivalent in this game, but L.O.L. sees room for redemption. It avoids the easy pessimism this premise could thrive upon, albeit not by asserting humanity's exceptionalism in the face of catastrophe. Halumi's just one more anthropomorphic tool exploited by the powers that be to accomplish their foolhardy wars on worlds they think are beneath them. This weaponized cuteness only works until the illusion of respectability or shared gain has evaporated; now they're just a tin can ready to rust away on an abandoned Eden. It's time to stop fighting. It's time to survive.
Lack of Love leaves me wanting despite all that it's evoked from me. Another late-game stage expanding on the prairie village's growing pains, and the tensions between tribe mentality and complex new hierarchies, would have made me rate this even higher. The best bits sometimes get drowned over tetchy player controls, or poorly telegraphed puzzle designs in a few spots. And there aren't quite enough rewards for exploration like I'd hoped, with areas like the desert near the end feeling very barren of interaction or secrets off the expected path. But these all point to the constraints, low budget, and limited time Love-de-Lic had to realize a vision so ambitious that few are trying anything like it today. More privileged groups like mid-2000s Maxis struggled to realize their own comprehensive story of life growing from nothing and adapting to everything. And then there's fanciful but less compelling evolution legends such as EVO: The Search for Life and its PC-98 predecessor. Still I love those projects for their own ambitions, just as I've got nothing but love for L.O.L, warts and all.
Sadly the general public and most game fans either didn't know about it or had other priorities, leaving Love-de-Lic to disband and try their design approach elsewhere. How sad but fitting that any indelible interactive story this ahead of the times should find rejection until decades later. From what interviews and retrospectives we have, it seems as though Nishii, Sakamoto, and others understood this would be the company's end. There's no glory there, just a resignation to the harshness of the video games market and what it quickly excludes from view. All I want now is for you to try giving this a little love, too. Do for L.O.L. now what was improbable when it released into an uncaring media landscape all those years ago. For lack of a better answer to this indignity, I've ended up playing one of my new favorite games, and maybe you could too.
ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇꜱᴇ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅꜱ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀꜱ ᴇxᴄᴇᴘᴛ ᴇᴜʀᴏᴘᴀ
ᴀᴛᴛᴇᴍᴘᴛ ɴᴏ ʟᴀɴᴅɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ
ᴜꜱᴇ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇʀ
ᴜꜱᴇ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ɪɴ ᴘᴇᴀᴄᴇ -quote from 2010: The Year We Make Contact

Beautiful moments surrounded by rough edges.
Love-de-Lic is a name I'm familiar with, but their games have never been anything I've ever actually touched. Their final game, L.O.L.: Lack of Love, is perhaps an ironic title in retrospect; the studio folded not long after putting this out, with most of the core members scattering themselves across the industry. This wasn't a bad one to end things on.
If Lack of Love is anything, it's unique. I played through it with the help of an English fan patch, but this is a story about nature, and one that's told almost entirely without words. The only thing you're going to be reading is the save prompt and mostly-unhelpful gameplay hints, neither of which are going to impact your understanding all that much. You could play through this in any language and get through it just fine, which helps immensely in selling the universality of a title like this.
The aim of the game, per the instruction manual, is to survive. You're given no greater goal than this. The game opens, makes you hatch from an egg, and then you're thrust into life completely on your own and left to figure things out for yourself. This is going to be the source of all of your enjoyment, and the source of all of your frustrations. Without the game ever telling you anything, it can make it nearly impossible to figure out what you're meant to do at any given time. Sometimes it'll be obvious (save a creature from being attacked by other creatures), and other times it'll be cryptic beyond any reasonable chance of you figuring it out on your own (like gathering blue glowflies from a stream at night, slowly walking them over to a creature, greeting it, sleeping in front of it, greeting it while you're asleep, and then giving it the glowflies). Each creature you help gives you a CosmoBall, which you then spend at crystals to evolve into your next stage of life.
Not helping the matter is the fact that the game can be incredibly specific about how it wants you to approach the environmental puzzles. One creature aptly named "HELP-ME" in Stage 4 gets attacked by bugs, and requires you to fight them off; even though I kept attacking and driving them away, the HELP-ME wouldn't stop getting swarmed. I thought I might have been doing something wrong, but I did the exact same thing about ten times in a row, and it eventually started working as intended just in time for me to open OBS so I could get video evidence of it happening. This is mostly a problem in the early stages, and it feels as though the creators learned a lot more about their own game system as they progressed through development. Still, this is a rough start. If you aren't already in love with the game by the time you get here, it'll start to feel difficult to justify moving forward.
The game gets immensely better near the back half, though. Lack of Love loves to create these natural interactions with all of these various creatures, and the ones you'll find in later stages are beyond memorable. Racing with the dragonflies, scaling the cliffs by being punted by tall birds, escaping a suddenly-horrific meat-jail after being captured by bugs, meeting other members of your species for the first time; all of these parts come together to create a beautiful little glimpse into this ecosystem, and it's one that masters the illusion of feeling truly alive. Betraying and killing an animal that you were previously friends with because you need food is never an easy thing to do, but it'll happen many, many times before you see the credits roll.
But there is a greater plot lurking beneath the pure-survival surface. Drones and robots wander the planet, trampling the other creatures beneath the grinding rubber of their treads. Terraforming devices get jammed into the ground, obliterating entire biomes and carving away every bit of life within after they've completed their countdown. The head robot in charge, Halumi, is in an active war with nature. I was amazed that they were listed as a protagonist in the manual, because they couldn't more obviously be an antagonist. Their actions hurt you and your animal friends. Life is precious in Lack of Love, no matter how small, but Halumi doesn't seem to care much about the preservation of the flora and fauna here.
After a long journey through the many habitats of this world, Halumi manages to capture you, purely by chance. You're tossed into an enclosure like a captured trophy, made to perform in little puzzle challenges to prove your worth. The sound of your feet hitting plastic and steel instead of grass and dirt is going to shock you. You push blocks around. Your final trial is to reject one of your companion animals in favor of a mechanical doll made to look like a human baby. Halumi, approving of your choice, shows you how Earth's over-consumption has lead to overcrowding and disease, and how the humans have approved the use of the L.O.L. program to send robots to the stars in search of new, habitable planets.
It's at this point near the end of the game that I start to get nervous. To succeed in Halumi's eyes and be rewarded with showers of confetti and a roof over my head, I have to give up everything I've learned until this point. My potential relationships are completely pared down to two other captive animals who have already been selected as successes in the L.O.L. program. Failure means getting tossed in a test tube and experimented on. I've gone from surviving off mushrooms and making new companions to being held in captivity and judged based on my ability to solve mazes. Who the fuck does this robot think they are, anyway? What gives humanity the right to come here and trample on this world after they've so thoroughly ruined the last one? And to do what, exactly? Spoil the place again, and repeat the process on another planet the next time that they're struck with an "overpopulation" problem?
But it doesn't come to pass. Despite Halumi's best efforts to terraform the planet, a massive storm destroys every piece of equipment and renders the planet incompatible with human life. Your character, stronger than ever, fights through the pounding rain and the flashes of lightning, rejecting L.O.L. and escaping deeper into the wilderness. Halumi — and by extension, humanity — have failed. If the L.O.L. project ever bears fruit, it won't be here. They'll remain trapped in their little cities, crowded and ill, desperate for a solution that may never come.
Halumi emerges from the wreckage, beams of light streaming down from the dark clouds above. L.O.L. is over. Whatever purpose Halumi once had is no more.
Halumi has failed.
No longer bound by the shackles of their mission, they wander away, integrating themselves with nature. Your character and their companion critter enter into a massive forest of leaves and roots. Bird-like creatures snatch up smaller quadrupeds for eating, and find themselves snapped in the jaws of massive dinosaurs. Bugs chirp and buzz amid the squeals and roars of the fauna beneath the pale blue sky. Halumi pets one of the creatures, making sure not to step on a bug at their feet.
Halumi is freed.
The sun still rises on another world.