The game gives the players control of Lis Seiler, an antisocial teenager/young adult with a love for video games and rave music. The game's plot focuses around Lis' exploits in the, as she states herself, "the real world", shortly after graduating school. Many of these exploits focus around dealing with her neo-nazi ex boyfriend, a corrupt police officer blackmailing her, and so forth. Outside of the main plot, there are also "odd jobs" given to Lis by other characters. Some of these are short in terms of missions, while others can be lengthy. There are also minigames for the player to partake in while not on a mission, such as street racing, attending raves, and so forth.
The mission structure is non-linear, meaning the game has an "open world" approach to the plot. The next mission is not directly after the current one, which leaves time for free roaming or other tasks the player wishes to do between missions. However, some missions are activated automatically after a phone call.
There are also mutliple different mission givers, some of whom give missions at the same time. For example, as opposed to going from one mission given by Character A directly to the next one given by Character A, the player can go to Character B and do a mission for them.
Missions can be activated through phone calls (as mentioned above) or by seeing the mission giver, be it at their house, meeting location, etc. In that case, the missions are not activated by walking into a marker, pressing a key, etc. Rather, they are activated by walking towards the mission giver or, in some cases, a vehicle, prop, etc. relevant to a cutscene the mission features.
If the player dies, gets arrested, or fails an objective during a mission, the mission is failed. If the mission is failed. If the mission is failed, the player is asked whether they want to restart or exit the mission, returning them back to free roam.
The game takes place in a portion of Fitzgerald County, North Dakota, featuring the small town of Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside, which is mostly farmland and highways. Both Fitzgerald County and Philadelphia, while taking cues from some locations, is not based off of any town or county in particular, which allows for a good amount of creative license.
The town of Philadelphia is the center of activity in the game. All of the shops, restaurants, and most of the characters reside here. That being said, nearly all the shops are enterable and have some form of purpose, whether or not it's practical or just for cosmetic reasons. Some residences are enterable as well, such as Lis' house and Trey's basement apartment.
The in-game map is landlocked by land on all sides, much like the real life North Dakota. Therefore, the player is unable to leave the map. If the player attempts to leave the map for any reason, a group of hunters will yell out "Holy shit, that's a fancy deer!" or something similar to that and shoot at Lis offscreen with a rifle. Lis will continue to be shot at until she leaves the borders of the map or succumbs to her wounds.
Besides driving (more on that below), on-foot abilities are another major mechanic in the game. While on foot, Lis has the ability to walk, run, and jump. While running, the player constantly has to tap a "sprint" button in order to make Lis run and control her stamina. If Lis runs for too long, she begins slowing down and losing energy, as a result of her poor athletic abilities. If Lis remains to be pushed further (after a few verbal warnings from Lis), her health will decline. If it persists, Lis will collapse to the ground.
Jumping can be used to either jump in place, climb over/onto obstacles of various heights (such as fences, boxes, etc.), and to pull Lis onto ledges and the likes. Lis can also perform basic parkour moves with the jump button and sprint button combined, such as vaulting over low obstacles, sliding across car hoods, etc.
Driving is a major mechanic in the game, as the map is too large to be transversed only on foot in a timley fashion. Lis' default vehicle is her parent's car, which always spawns at her house. Despite that, the player can also steal vehicles, either parked or occupied.
While stealing an occupied vehicle, Lis will open up the driver's door and verbally threaten the driver while pulling him/her out. Lis will almost always attack the driver while pulling them out, either by punching them, hitting their head on the steering wheel, or kicking them if the vehicle is low enough. If the player is attempting to steal a bike, Lis will hold the handlebar with one hand and push/attack the rider with the other hand, knocking the driver off and prompting Lis to get on the motorcycle.
If the player chooses to steal a parked car, they will be given a hotwiring minigame. Lis will first open the door with a slim jim and enters the driver's seat, which begins the hotwiring minigame. The game depends on what type of car is being stolen. For example, older cars require simply jamming a screwdriver into the ignition and turning it, while middle-range cars require taking apart the steering column and twisting wires around. High end cars require Lis hacking the engine on her phone in order to get it started.
The handling and other mechanics of driving vary between vehicles, much like in real life. For example, Lis' default vehicle, the Capital, is an old, heavy sedan that is prone to understeering and slow acceleration. Compare that to a Columbus, which is a quick, light subcompact and a card for understeering. That being said, each vehicle handles differently. Some vehicles are better than others in certain fields, such as protection, speed, handling, etc. but no vehicle is the "best".
The camera used while driving the car is at default set up at an angle similar to GTA 3's driving camera, like how you can see the road ahead of you and at the same time see the rear of your car. The camera is able to freely rotate around the vehicle, but will always revert back to it's original position after a few seconds.
As is driving, gunplay is another key feature of the game. As the game is in third person, the camera will go into an "over-the-shoulder" view when Lis is aiming her gun. Alternativley, the player doesn't have to aim their weapon, resulting in Lis firing her weapon from the hip. This causes the bullets to spray all over the place, due to recoil. Alternatively, the player can buy a grip for certain weapons so hip firing will become accurate. The player can also purchase a scope, which will temporarily change the view to first person when aiming through the scope (More detail on accessories later).
Just like with the cars, there are multiple different weapons to chose from, all with varying specifications and prices. For example, a saturday night special purchased at a pawn shop with extra ammunition will be fairly inexpensive at the cost of firepower and accuracy. In contrast to that, a military grade rifle will have a lot of firepower and accuracy, along with a decent number of attatchments. However, it is pretty expensive.
Accessories are purchasable at G.I. George's and can be fitted onto weapons. The player can buy a scope or a laser sight to aid in aiming, a grip to aid in accuracy, a flashlight to aid in dark combat, and a silencer to deafen the noise and suppress the muzzle flash. The accessories, once purchased, are added to Lis' inventory and can be added at any time during gameplay.
There are three places Lis can go to purchase weapons:
- Pawn Shop - A pawn shop that sells inexpensive weapons such as cheap pistols, basic melee weapons, and so forth.
- G.I. George's - An army surplus store that sells a wide array of firearms and accessories. They also stock a range of military uniforms.
- Willem van Boven can sell Lis high-end weaponry and accessories from the trunk of his Mantis after a certain point in the game.
- To a lesser extent, Shabimbim's Model Train Extravaganza sells remote control vehicles and other accessories that can be used to transform them into weapons.
Lis can take cover behind various walls, vehicles, and so forth during gunfights to protect herself from gunfire. Cover works similarily to the cover in "Sleeping Dogs" and other sandbox games, such as the player being able to blind fire, peek out of cover and aim, etc. One drawback about being in cover is that the aim reticle doesn't appear while the plays is either in cover or blind firing. Rather, it only appears when the player is peeking out of cover.
The inventory is a mechanic in the game which involves how much of an item Lis can carry. The number of how much of an item can be carried can be determined by what the player is using at the time. For example, if Lis has nothing on but regular clothing, she will only be able to carry a handgun in her waistband and a few ammunition clips. However, the player can upgrade their inventory by buying the following:
- Messenger Bag/Duffel Bag - More ammunition and weapons (depending on length)
- Tactical Vest - More ammunition
- Gun Slings - The ability to carry long-barreled weapons
Guns are not the only things that can be kept in the inventory. The player can also put purchased drinks/food in the inventory for a health boost and remote control vehicles purchased at the hobby shop.
If the player wishes to discard an item in the inventory, they can go to Lis' House and drop it off in her closet. That being said, the closet can be used to change clothing and store weapons and accessories.
Health / DrugsEdit
Health comes is the measurement of the physical condition of Lis in the game. It is tracked in-game by the borders of the screen. For example, if Lis is in good health, the borders of the screen will be clear, as opposed to if she is on the verge of dying, to which the screen will have bloody borders. If Lis' health depletes entirely, she will respawn at the hospital and any missions she was on will fail.
Health can regenerate when Lis is not being shot at or taking damage. Food and drinks, which the player can put in their inventory, can help Lis' health regenerate faster. Buying armor such as helmets and bulletproof vests can also help deter bullet damage.
Drugs can be purchased to gain special abilities, either off the internet or at raves. Once purchased, drugs are placed in Lis' inventory and, when taken, gives Lis special abilities for a brief amount of time, at the cost of the player being able to see the screen clearly due to the side effects of the drugs, which can be created using screenoverlays. The drugs are as follows:
- Purple Haze - A tablet that, when swallowed, takes Lis on a "happy trip". The screen turns bright and colorful as all of Lis' on-foot animations change to her skipping in various speeds.
- Black Widow - A tablet that, when swallowed, sends Lis into a blind rage. The tablet causes Lis to bark, growl, and yell incoherently as the screen turns red with dark edges. Whenever Lis aims a firearm, it always automatically fires when under the influence of the drug and her melee attacks do much more damage than normal.
Throughout the game world, the player can find minigames to participate in, either unlocked after a certain plot point or available from the start of the game. Minigames can be used to get money and unlock clothing, depending on the minigame.
From the start of the game, Lis can attend raves. Raves can be found in different places throughout the map, such as in a tunnel, a barn, and an abandoned warehouse. While visiting a rave, the player can either buy drugs, do a kegstand (in which the player will have to stay balanced during the stand or else Lis will fall), and Dance, in which a sequence of arrows scroll across the screen from left to right, to which the player has to press the arrow key as it goes through a circular marker. If the player misses too many arrows in a row, Lis will trip over herself, failing the dance.
Occasionally, the police will "bust" a rave while Lis is attending it, giving Lis a wanted level.
Lis can sing karaoke at various karaoke machines throughout the map, such as at Breakfast In America. The Karaoke gameplay itself resembles the Karaoke from "Sleeping Dogs", with a marker being used to determine the player's pitch. If Lis gets a good score with all the Karaoke songs, she gets an 80s Throwback outfit. The list of songs that can be sung are:
- Make Me Smile - Cockney Rebel
- Kids In America - Kim Wilde
- Touch Me - The Doors
- 99 Red Balloons
- Sunshine After The Rain - Ellie Greenwich
- Perfect Day - Lou Reed
- Turn It On Again - Genisis
- Live Is Life - Opus
- Kiss Him Goodbye - Steam
- Gold Dust Woman - Fleetwood Mac
It should be worth noting that, if the Karaoke game is activated in a German bar, Lis will perform the same song in German.
At any time in the game, Lis can go to the Chinese takeaway and apply to become a delivery person.
After starting the job, Lis is given a vehicle (an Urbano with a box attached to the rear) and a list of addresses to deliver food to. When the player arrives at the address, they have to get off the bike and walk up to somebody who is standing outside of the house to hand the food over to and get the money from. Once the transaction is made, the player either has to return to the takeaway or continue with the rest of their deliveries in a timely fashion.
Street Racing is unlocked shortly after the mission The Art of Intimidation.
At the truck stop during night, Lis can find street racers admiring their cars, fixing them, dancing, etc. A street race is activated by walking into the general area of the street racers and hitting a button asking the player if they want to partake in a street race. When the player enters a street race, they spawn near the start line in the last car they drove. Following a countdown, the player is then instructed to follow through the checkpoints and, if they are the first across the line after X amount of laps, the player wins the race.
Alternatively, the player can partake in a drag race with one other racer down the highway as opposed to a circuit race.
RC Car RaceEdit
At any time in the game, Lis can go to the RC car track located in a field outside of town and find an RC Car Race in progress at certain times. However, to be able to participate in one, she has to have an RC Car in her inventory.
RC Car races work like street races. The player has to beat other opponents while going through checkpoints on the track. Whoever is the first to cross the finish line after X number of laps wins.
Lis' phone is a permanent part of her inventory. Her phone resembles an iPhone, which is labeled in-game as a "Lemon Phone". The phone has multiple features in the form of apps, which are as follows:
- Contacts - Lis can call people in her contact book and get jobs, request favors, or hang out (as in the case with Todd and Trey).
- Texts - Lis can recieve text messages from people, such as mission details, side quests, etc.
- Map - Lis can use this app to open up a Google Maps-styled version of the in game map. This serves as the game's radar, and like in real life, she will have to hold up the phone to see the map, it won't be automatically hovering on the screen for no reason.
- To Do List - The player can use this app to replay previously-played missions.
- Quick Save/Load - The player can use this app to save the game without using autosave or sleeping in Lis' bed.
- Settings - The player can change Lis' ringtone and phone background.
- Camera - Lis can take pictures with this app.
- Internet - Opening this app takes the player to a Facebook parody, in which Lis' profile and others can be seen. The website updates itself as the game progresses.
The game features police as the main force against the player. If a crime is witnessed by police or reported by a pedestrian, Lis will be marked. The marking goes in 2 different things - the vehicle she drove and the clothes she's wearing. If she drives too close to a cop car, they notice her vehicle and pursue. However, if she has changed into a different vehicle, they will not notice her, unless she also keeps the old clothes she was seen performing crime in. That means, even if she's in a different car, the cops will pay closer attention until they realise it's the same person they saw before. This also applies to walking, if they notice it's Lis, they'll say for example - "It's the chick with the german shirt, let's not lose her again". This effect wears off every 48 in-game hours.
If Lis is arrested, she will simply walk out of the Sheriff station. If she is arrested on higher wanted levels, she is thrown out the back of a police van going down a highway, leaving her with very little health. In either case, she loses her inventory items and loses some of her money as a bribe.
Besides that, Fitzgerald Country Sheriff is described as lacking equipment, so the player will not face that much of a threat, except from the fact Lis will be instantly recognised and cops will be more coordinated, with even using hand signals to show tactics to other officers. At higher wanted levels, a police helicopter is deployed and will either rope down SWAT members or try to snipe Lis.
That being said, there's no firefighters to be seen, nor are there fire engines. This is lampshaded in-game as a mixture of the town being so far away from major cities and the fact that there has been so many prank calls to them before the events of the game, they simply stopped showing up.
There is a hospital located in town and can be accessed by the player to get free health, thanks to Lis' insurance. There is also an ambulance parked outside, which can be looted for drugs.