Art speaks from, and to, the soul.

Man, I have been getting a lot of different games lately. In a summer season that so often means a dearth of things to play, I've been bouncing around from one deeply unique experience to the next. And The Lion's Song is no exception.

An episodic point-and-click adventure, there are a few things that make the game stand out; One is the art style, this sepia-toned pixel art of red, gold and black that just looks gorgeous. The other thing, is the focus. Our setting is an early 20th century, around Vienna, and our focus is on a rapidly changing art scene that produces great artists, amazing work...and the terrible stress and despair of meeting that challenge.

Each episode focuses on a different character at one of these pivotal moments, gets into their head, and shows us their fears, ambitions, and dreams. Each one has a different level of focus, breadth and scope; for instance, the first episode, focusing on a composer, holds almost entirely on the woman holed up in a cabin while she struggles to find the inspiration for her next piece, while episode 2's focus on a young painter gives him the entire city to find his inspiration in.

And it's key that the first episode would be all about a composer, as music is a common thematic thread. Even when we focus on other mediums entirely, chords and leitmotifs are used to show the emotion of the moment. It's a clever way to bring a throughline to the whole operation, even as we see some other threads of how the different people view the world. (My personal favorite might be the painter in episode 2, who gets this symbolic phantom of people when he interacts with them...a representation of the sort of way he might paint them, if given the chance.)

So I'm left in a bit of a pickle of how to discuss this game, when so much is story driven and I want to leave so many of those moments for you.

First, let's talk mechanics. The Lion's Song is a classic form point-and-click adventure, one cooked down to its bones, so you really only have the action of clicking itself. The game is far less interested in rubbing objects together than it is in choice, something that often comes out through dialogue. Oftentimes you're given mutually exclusive choices, and asked to pick a path, which feeds towards tweaks in your ending.

One thing that helps this, and helps feed the game's longevity, is how very different the different paths can be. Each time you complete an episode, which are fairly short on a single run, your autosave is replaced with a set of decision points; The mutually exclusive spots where you zigged when you could have zagged. (One thing that also makes this interesting, is that they also give you the percentages on zigging versus zagging. Did you agree with most folks, or did you go down a path so few would tread?)

And if we're going to give a critique, longevity would be it. While all the episodes add up fairly well, each one is really on the short side. As an altogether piece, this isn't the end of the world, but if you don't enjoy one of the characters or their struggle, that's a huge chunk of the total playtime effectively lost.

I could also mention that the point-and-click format is a little...sticky. The cursor can be a bit slow on the Switch, and yet sometimes things are so small that picking them out of the scene can be a bit fussy. While it all works, the game certainly feels like it would benefit from a mouse.

Yet on the other hand, there's so much interesting here that I'm willing to overlook it...Or perhaps, it would be better to say what's interesting is what isn't here. The Lion's Song keeps its focus incredibly small and narrow, and while it is certainly not the first game to pull rich drama from relative mundanity, its specific choices resonate with me quite well.

Though I'm certainly not the best, I am a creative. And across all of the mediums I have experience with, I can say that I see a whole lot of my own struggles reflected in these characters. The fear of failure. The constant pressure to push harder, to do better than the last project. I've been there in so many ways.

And while all of this is not the first time I've seen this reflected, for so many artists ultimately end up creating art aboutart, it's certainly the first time I can recall seeing these sorts of things be the focus of a game.

So what I'm left with is a very intriguing game. The Lion's Song is a bit of a rare beast, not so much in the how as in the what and the why. While it's not quite the most gentle or soothing experience, its unflinching look at these struggles is potent...And makes seeing the ultimate triumphs all the more real for the struggle.

This is a niche title, I won't lie. But speaking solely from my perspective, it's one I'm damn glad to have in my collection.