To say My Lovely Daughter is an unsettling story following the depths of how far a grieving father will plunge into alchemist hell might be the only reasonable explanation to describe the grim simulation narrative. Between work/money management, experimenting with alchemy and selfish murder all for the sake of resurrecting your recently deceased daughter – GameChanger Studio delivers an unnerving tale of fiction, but unfortunately comes with a rather tedious concept.
Faust is a man suffering from extreme memory loss discovering his departed daughter immediately upon gaining consciousness. Set centuries in the past, the small village serves as only a slight reminder of who he was, but after discovering the state of his beloved daughter he comes to the realization he, himself, studies in alchemy. The confidence of his abilities only strengthens from there, and off we go on a dark tale about how far a man will go to bring back what he cherishes most.
The idea behind My Lovely Daughter is to use your medieval alchemist abilities to, of course, bring your precious daughter back to the living. If you’re a fan of the anime series – Full Metal Alchemist – we all know what happens when you attempt to bring back the dead using alchemy – but Faust is a desperate man who’s only memories are adrift in the clouds. Slowly he begins to fill in the pieces of his memory as he begins to re-learn the shady process of alchemy.
Tedious Slave-Driving Management
The gameplay requires players to perform a series of tasks which all help to nurture the soul of Faust’s daughter, and eventually use the soul to bring her back from the dead. Players will use materials such as wood, clay, meat and water to transmutate into living homunculus that you’ll lovingly suffocate with work and gifts in order to reach specific affinity levels to add to your daughter’s remaining soul. Creating multiple homunculus will net Faust more income as you send them off into the village to earn a hard day’s wage, as well as grow in experience levels, but showing each one particular affection raises each one’s specific affinity.
Homunculus comes in a variety of affinity emotions ranging from anger to joy, to sadness and fear – and it’s up to the player to determine which place of employment decreases the affinity levels the least. The affinity tied to every transmutated homunculus is determined based off of the three ingredients used in the alchemy process. The affinity levels increase when particular items are gifted to the daughter-like homunculi, or the player decides to spend some much-appreciated time with the miserable chemistry experiments.
Across the village map lays a number of places to send your precious homunculi daughters off to scrape together necessary gold to keep your loving daughter in a composed form, as well as keep your homunculus collection happy. There are around 2-3 places pertaining to each affinity emotion, like pet grooming for sadness, gardening for joy or smelting for anger. The players send off from their house for a seven-day workweek emulated through a flowing timeline lasting around only less than half a minute. Within this time frame players are able to freeze the clock while they assign their homunculi crew to specific workspaces to earn gold and experience, purchase necessary items and strategize the remainder of the work week. This whole process is fairly easy to grasp early on making for a simple concept, but can grow rather tiresome and feel like a monotonous grind the longer you play.
Possessing a collection of various homunculus each representing a different emotion selfishly puts gold into Faust’s pocket with every passing day. Earning gold allows Faust to keep his daughter’s body from decomposing throughout the weeks spent obtaining crucial alchemy ingredients and perfecting the ancient art. Raising your homunculus affinity levels are important for finding the perfect formula needed to resurrect your daughter which is precisely where players must experiment with sacrificing their many homunculi.
Collecting Your Sacrifices
Between the assortment of alchemy ingredients players will transmutate one homunculus after another in order to nurture, work and inevitably slaughter, in turn adding to your daughter’s overall soul affinity level. To reach your goal you must configure the perfect formula of the affinity emotions that perfectly match the amount of joy, fear, sadness and anger in which make up your daughter’s personality. The higher the affinity level for each homunculi means more of that specific emotion contributes to your daughter’s soul, but only after the homunculus has been mercilessly sacrificed. Every four weeks the player may decide to try to fuse the affinity-collected soul with your daughter – in an attempt to bring her back, but in doing so will apply all current affinity levels making all of your work prior to the fusion attempt a complete gamble.
The constant homunculus experiments, slave-driving mentality from our “hero” Faust, bizarre method of nurturing your twisted alchemy collection and unholy desire to relentlessly slaughter them as quickly as they were created is the entire concept of My Lovely Daughter. While grim as it is, the underlying tone urges players to dig deep within themselves and question: just how important is one’s life compared to another? The pleas and confusion displayed every time you decide to exterminate a homunculus are borderline gut-wrenching knowing this is your only option moving forward in the game. Still, growing a bond with your homunculus and watching as they begin to develop a faint wisp of trust for Faust only to be snuffed out in the name of the one daughter he actually gives a damn about is a tough pill to swallow, time and time again.
The workload in the village rewards players with a modest pay in gold, but the cost of homunculus gifts, alchemy materials and expensive preservative balm – applying this periodically to your daughter’s corpse is vital in keeping her from decomposing – begins to add up. Aside from the typical everyday workspaces, players may also take on requests from the villagers. Usually asking for a number of specific materials gained from sacrificing your homunculus, i.e. clay, wood, iron etc., players may choose to take on these timed side quests to gain a hefty step forward in your gold total. While not mandatory, these do add a bit more depth to the otherwise tedious gameplay, but nothing to seriously change the overall concept of the game.
The dreadful story and bleak setting of My Lovely Daughter are enough to captivate players interested in experiencing a tale not typically told in video games. However, the constant grind and gambling process to achieve the overall conclusion is what may drive most of them off. While appreciating what the creators of My Lovely Daughter have accomplished in this maturely themed narrative, the gameplay is a bit lacking – let’s say something closer to a semi-strategic visual novel. Though the constant difficult decisions to sacrifice your lonely creations after so much time and effort put forth into bonding with them, and listening to their often depressing stories still somehow manages to weigh heavily on your conscience well after you finish the unique experience that is My Lovely Daughter.