Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry

Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry

It was acceptable in the 80's.

As 11 year olds, me and my friends were obsessed with Leisure Suit Larry, passing copies of Amiga disks around with whispers that it contained girls and sex, and if we could solve the puzzles, maybe even see some boobs.  Of course, we didn’t realise that it was simply a point and click adventure game about a sleazy man who was trying to lose his virginity to anything that moved, and were definitely too young to understand the themes that were in play.  Now we’re 32 years on from the first game’s release and Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry comes to us in a world that is very different from the one that spawned the original bawdy sex comedies.  Now we’re all a little older, wiser and starting to wonder if ultimately there’s a place for Larry’s humour and desires any more in the midst of equality, #MeToo and reducing objectification?  The only way to find out is to get stuck in.

Larry Laffer has been missing for a few years.  How long is unclear, but he awakes in the dark, fumbling around for a light switch and trying to find a way out of the hole he appears to be in.  It turns out he’s been under New Lost Wages for a few years with no memory of how he ended up there or why.  Things above ground have changed a lot and it’s going to take a quite an education to bring Larry up to speed with how this strange new world works.  At least his favourite bar is still standing and there’s a familiar face manning it too.  Maybe things will be alright… as long as Larry can behave himself around the ladies, avoid getting thrown in jail, and manage not to get himself killed.  There’s help for him in this alien future though in the form of a PiPhone – a smartphone with a perky yet sarcastic digital assistant.  Discovering one of these devices in the bathroom sets off a chain of events that will have Larry trying to date the inhabitants of the town and help uncover a nefarious plot that the tech company Prune is hatching.  It’s mental, but what would you expect from a game that has you stuffing cheesy smelling dildos into XL condoms to catch rats?

Larry’s led by his desires and sex is first and foremost on his mind, so the vast majority of the plot is spent trying to woo matches from the dating app Timber.  There are a several suitors over the course of the game to discover, and there’s a very broad range of personalities to choose from, including men.  The diversity on show goes some way to dispel the concerns that this would not move with the times.  It’s all about understanding who they are, what they like and how to get them into bed by way of picking up items and solving the fetch quests that are dotted around the map… not that you should expect Larry actually get what he wants.  When your beau’s are available you’re able to work through them in any order, and successfully completing a date usually opens up a bit more of the overriding story with Prune as well as offering up additional ways forward.  Despite the surface coating of smut it’s a standard point and click adventure setup, with a lot of callbacks to the original game in terms of locations and the fact it features death… Larry can die, though he is re-assembled for the instant before that happened.  There are a surprising amount of ways to make Larry meet his maker too if you’re so inclined.

As with any game in this genre it’s defined by how good the logic puzzles are, and Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Die does these right.  Combining items in the inventory so they approximate something else and change their function is the core mechanic, and getting information out of other characters comes a close second.  There’s near enough always a visual, audio or text clue that gives an indication as to what works where, and getting stuck is likely only to come about by not finding something in the environment that needs interacting with or picking up.  With so much detail on display in the handful of locations the game has, it’s actually very easy to miss something crucial.  Moving Larry is simple enough with the left stick, and the right controls the cursor that determines the interactions.  Some items have a very small trigger point and as such it’s possible to skip over them inadvertently.  Clicking the right stick in will highlight everything on screen that can be talked to, picked up or walked into.

With a plot centred around the evil Prune corporation (which is a not at all veiled Apple parody) there’s opportunity to poke fun at technology and games, and get across a few jibes that whilst Larry is a dinosaur, his modus operandi might not actually be completely wrong.  The setting also allows a playful switch up of stereotypes with tech geniuses, sex shop owners, gym attendants and hipsters all getting put in the firing line for you to have some fun with.  Larry doesn’t really get why people act like they do or fully realise what’s going to happen to him on some of the dates, and that actually makes him a little endearing throughout the course of the story.  He might be crass and filled with schoolboy puns, but ends up coming across as naive in a lot of the scenarios, and it’s helped with the dialogue options ranging from pure filthy minded to quite genuine responses.  It’s likely how Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry manages to walk the line between amusing and insulting, by putting the power of the interactions in the hands of the player.

Those thinking that the production’s only focus was a couple of dick jokes would be wrong, there’s a lot of design effort gone into the areas you visit, and the voice acting is done with conviction.  Everyone might be a pastiche, but they sound authentic, as do some of the sex noises so don’t play this with kids in the room.  With no outright nudity to be found, it doesn’t mean that it can’t still upset the more sensitive amongst us, and it really does revel in digging into some of the more unique fetishes out there (I learnt what a screwnicorn is, and it’s something I probably never needed to know).  Whilst there’s vulgarity it’s not actually that vulgar all the time, and the plethora of knob gags means that within a couple of hours you actually stop noticing them.  It steps things up as the game progresses making sex more extreme, yet doesn’t cross into any taboo’s – it keeps it light and amusing until the end.  Structurally it’s well balanced to make the best use of the limited environments, and this comes in handy when you’re travelling back and forth between places in the Unter cabs.

I’ll admit to being a bit sceptical with Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry.  I remember the original fondly, but that was a different time and a different era with a different set of tolerance levels.  However, in the time I’ve spent with the game I’ve come across the overriding message that sex is varied, unique to individuals, fun, and most of all, nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s an unexpectedly positive reinforcement all the way through.  There was a risk here that the character is so old and out of touch that it would just cause offence (and I suspect it will still do that to some), yet what we have here is tamer than a lot of teen movie comedies we’ve had in recent years.  The source material is represented well and it’s been brought up to date using the contrasting views to bring home some of the amazing things we live with, and how absurd they would seem only a couple of decades ago.  Most of all it’s a treat for point and click adventure fans on console because we all know it’s been a bit of a barren time there.  There might be a bit of glitchy audio now and then, and when looking at an item the inventory window keeps popping up, but these are small in the grand scheme of things.  A bit like Larry himself.

A PS4 review copy of Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry was provided by Assemble Entertainment’s PR team, and the game is available now for around £35 on PC, PS4 and Switch.

The Verdict

7.5Good

The Good: Detailed environments | More inclusive than expected | Decent puzzles

The Bad: Will be too puerile for some

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Matt

Co-founder & Editor at Codec Moments

Gamer, F1 fanatic, amateur DJ (out of practice), MGS obsessed, tech geek.

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