Lucius joined us on Friday the 26th of October in what I would think was some five days early for the coming of the antichrist, probably just wanting a head start. Developed by a small team, Shiver Games, from Helsinki and inspired heavily by the classic horror movie The Omen we have a 3D horror-adventure game where you are the one terrorising, not being terrorised. I’ve recently been playing a review copy of the game and now it’s time for me to tell you what I think.
The scene: July (6) 6th (6), 1966 (66, let’s say just one 6 for dramatic effect) – A candle-lit room, a man in red performing some form of ritual. Blood, chanting. Also a Hospital at the same time, a child being born, a dark shadow hand reaching into the room. All this means one thing, as anybody who has ever heard of horror can tell you, shit’s going down and someone’s going to regret this day.
The regretting starts in six years time when the child, on his 6th birthday (6!), is visited by his real father, old man Lucifer himself. Pops has a birthday gift for little Lucius and that gift is a torch, also telekenesis. However, these gifts come with a request, one that Lucius is quite happy to fulfill, that request is murder. Daddy wants some souls and I’m guessing he can’t operate in the real world so delegation is key.
Now I’m not quite sure how Lucifer does it, he pops in, everything is on fire outside of the window and yet when Lucius wakes up there’s nothing burned and he still has the torch, he is the devil so I suppose he has some abilities we can’t really explain. He decides to visit a few more times as well after the required number of murders, giving Lucius other powers: Mind Control, Mind Wipe and finally pyrokinesis, because what is the antichrist without a bit of fire.
The first murder is one of the simple ones, effectively a tutorial in how to play the game and interact, you lock a maid in a walk in freezer and turn the temperature right down. There are a number of other short tutorials as the game goes along showing you how to use the new power that Lucifer gives to you.
After two or three murders the full house gets unlocked which is where Lucius takes slight advantage of being made using a 3D engine and you get to wander around as you please, a few doors are locked until you reach the specific kill that opens them but for the most part you can see everything there is to see. What there is to see is a very well designed gothic mansion and grounds, it’s all nicely detailed and the rooms are furnished well, all the small things are there such as books, papers, snooker balls, even rats and it all adds to make the house feel real and it does seem impressive that they’ve built a good looking detailed place like this.
At the very same time it can be a letdown as not much is made of this. You are taunted by your abilities you gain and the detail put in the house because most things are simply there for show. You can break glasses and wine bottles, you can turn on the TV with your mind. You could mess around with your telekenesis and throw pillows around and at people but it’s all for naught, it’s just for the sake of it and what I find the most odd is that the characters just don’t react to the supernatural and a simple one line when you personally drop a bottle and break it.
The only side bonus of the house is that there are a few chores, sidequests, to do to unlock three bonuses; the first being a Ouija Board, the second being a Music box and the third being a Tricycle which is almost an exact match from that of The Omen. The sidequests are mostly quick and easy to do, one or two requiring a little busywork or luck/a glance at gamefaqs, all par for the course in any game lately.
For the most part the killing is good and I enjoy it. They range from simple with little gore to ones where you’ll be picking bits up for weeks and for the most part they are fun to figure out. There are a few though that can be incredibly frustrating, where the clues offered aren’t useful in the slightest and the game simply turns into ‘hunt for the interactive object’ and the most likely choice is the wrong one. I’ve had this happen twice and both times I ended up jumping to youtube walkthroughs out of frustration after looking around for 20 or so minutes. Is that cheating? Sure.
Call me a quitter if needed but there’s nothing else to see in the house once all the chores are done.
That’s another thing I noticed. Each level, or kill, the NPC’s have a set number of lines and it’s fairly boring. I’m certain they have two or three each and it takes you a matter of seconds to hear them all. I know, it’s just random NPC babble and unimportant but I just think writing a few extra lines, probably about what has happened, would make them fit into the world better and make the game feel a little less segmented.
That’s the real problem I have though. It feels segmented, while each kill is linked together by a message in between then there’s no real feeling that they’re all taking place near each other apart from a little police tape here and there. It is also very linear, even inside the kills. You have to perform the kills in one specific way and in a specific order because that’s what the cutscene wants to show you and fair enough, the team worked on these deaths and the story of Detective McGuffin so I’ll indulge.
Detective McGuffin is the detective assigned to the first case and as a result gets all of the deaths after that. In between each death we get a segment of what I assume is his diary or parts for his upcoming best seller and his comments can also give a clue on the next kill you will be performing.
The game shows a few technical limitations when playing. A few of them inadvertadly add to the dark humour the game brings as an intentionally emotionless Lucius stares while a frantic screaming dying person flails around, still looking rather emotionless. This isn’t to say it’s always like that, just the odd occasion.
It does run into a few technical problems though. There is the aformentioned lack of enough lines for any and every of the NPC’s and there is also a problem of texture popping if you go around the house a little too quick. The final problem is that during the game and cutscenes I’ve seen a few clipping issues.
The game isn’t that great visually, stiff characters and not exactly that colourful although that could be a design choice. The key is in the detail, as I’ve said before, it does allow for immersion. The audio of the game is the same, nothing spectacular but the music fits the scene having a few tracks that repeat as necessary throughout the game and the voice acting isn’t too bad.
All in all Lucius is a game with a very interesting premise, one that drew me in right away as a fan of horror and just the alternate nature of it all. However, due to the linear nature of the game, how little it gives you to work with for some of the murders and a number of the bugs that appear at times It wont appeal to everybody. It’s certainly fitting for anybody not fussed over aged visuals, who are interested in the premise of playing as the antichrist and who are patient enough to see the bloody, gruesome payoff even when things get frustrating.