While I wait for Hitman to come down to a gentlemen’s price (because at this present time a cockney chimney sweep seems like bloody royalty to me), my housemate decided that I should stop complaining about the recent explosion of Christmas release titles that I can't afford and instead have a look at Lucius, a third person horror title brought to us by Lace Mamba Global, who are so unknown I’m pretty sure they’re make-believe, like Santa... or God. It has also been brought to my handsome attention that I am extremely critical of the mainstream games market, so to try and silence the critical flock, here are my impressions of a less well-known indie game.
Lucius, also known as Lucius: Son of The Devil, is a third person horror game set in 1866. The story (and our protagonist) plays through the twisted, tortured mind of a child who is the son of the Devil. This is a rare example of true horror, as you are effectively the enemy; you’re not a gravel voiced space marine with more muscles than a Sea Food restaurant, nor are you an anti-hero who eventually finds good in himself through emotional turmoil. You are a black, immoral, wicked child down to your extremely smartly dressed core. Lucius is a point and click adventure game which I would normally throw into one of the many rivers that surround my building, because the majority of point and click games are about as interactive as a soft piece of toilet paper, but in Lucius’ case it is implemented extremely well. Not as well as TellTale’s The Walking Dead, mind you, but pretty damn close.
The game takes place in a luxurious manor, courtesy of Lucius’s father, a US Governor. Everything seems to be going hunky dory until his sixth birthday (of course), when Satan appears in a dream telling him that he is his actually his real father and he should murder everyone in the building to start the building blocks for world domination. It sounds ridiculous - why is killing a bunch of random maids and plumbers more effective than, say, slowly working your way through the arms of government? - but it makes for an enjoyable game.
The concept of Lucius is to kill each person through nine chapters without drawing attention to yourself. This is achieved by searching for items and locations that would cause onlookers to believe that what transpired was an accident. This is easier said than done. Unfortunately, this is where we run into our first problem. Lucius is an awfully linear experience with no variety in the way you murder your prey. There is only one way in which each target can be slain, which is damn disappointing as a lot of the time I would want to use items that I think would have created more of a believable mishap rather than using a piano to crush someone’s forehead. However, the challenge of searching for the items and trying to trick your victims into the right situation outweighs the lack of creativity. Searching is the name of the game and having the whole manor ready to explore from the get-go is interesting, but this does mean that a huge chunk of time will be spent back-tracking or getting lost. This does, however, add a certain depth to the horror, as the atmospheric soundtrack goes well with the quite frankly chilling manor.
The graphics aren’t what I’d call astonishing, but everything looks like it’s supposed to. It doesn’t stand up to a lot of the big hitters, but that’s because of its indie origins. The manor itself can be pretty buggy, and you’ll occasionally find yourself stuck partway through a wall or unable to murder someone because he/she is trapped in the bloody floor, but it doesn’t happen enough to break the experience. One thing that is done extremely well is Lucius’s expressionless face as he watches another living soul burn to the ground, but from a programming point of view that’s probably more of a fortunate coincidence than anything else.
Other than that, Lucius is an ambitious idea that only just comes up short. For the price of £7.95 on AmazonUK you really are getting your money’s worth. As a gamer (contrary to the impression some have) I do appreciate video games and honestly think they are the best form of entertainment in spite of the saturated and overpriced market. It is nice to see that games like Lucius are still being created with the idea of innovation forefront rather than just something to say at E3 and in press releases. No, Lucius didn’t quite pull it off and it isn’t brilliant, but it’s hard to enjoy yourself more for the price.