LUCIUS

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Shiver Games

Publisher:  Lace Mamba Global

Released:  October 2012

PC Requirements:  

OS: Windows XP, Vista and 7

CPU: Pentium 4 1,5GHz or Athlon XP equivalent

RAM: 1,5GB

Video Card: NVIDIA 8600 Series or ATI equivalent

VRAM: 512MB of Graphics Memory

DirectX: DX9.0c

 

 

 

 

by flotsam

  

I should have loved this. The six year old spawn of Satan treads the halls of Dante Manor dealing death to the occupants at the behest of his father. Not in any old straightforward way either Ė death can come in all sorts of dreadful ways and a lot of them are present here. As the deaths pile up, the living unravel, and we all spiral down into the depths from which daddy came.

Delicious!

Except it isnít.

The best bit is the bit I just mentioned. Lose one inhabitant to a grisly accident and itís just that. Lose two and, well, old houses have things go wrong. Lose another and something else is clearly afoot. Watch and listen as family members try to explain, then just understand, then simply fall apart as the body count gets higher. Holding it together ceases to be possible long before the final death. The inexorable build-up of the psychological tension is definitely the high point.

Most of the rest is unfortunately nowhere near as powerful.

Through nineteen chapters you pilot Lucius around the manor, one murder at a time. Find out who needs to die, then have at it. Nothing confrontational mind, and nothing anybody must see. Rather, create an accident waiting to happen and the invite the victim to step in. Gruesome it can be, all the more so if a slow-mo cutscene of the deadly moment and its aftermath are involved.

Lucius is suitably Damien-esque. Dark haired, darker eyed, brooding, and non-communicative. His various powers (Telekinesis among them) add to his death dealing repertoire, or can just throw things around for fun. Which tended to be what happened whether I meant it to or not. Mind Control was more forgiving, although not for the target.

Lucius is played in the third person, with the w,a,s,d keys used for locomotion. Getting around the house is helped by a map, which I found very helpful as itís a big house. Not helpful, but certainly lifelike, was the fact that other occupants didnít stay put, and wandered around as well, generally doing whatever business they were employed to do.

Very unhelpful were some of the puzzle constructs. They veered between reasonably guided to maddeningly frustrating. Lucius takes notes as he learns things, which can come from all manner of interactions, but at times I had not the faintest idea how it was I was supposed to bring about the demise of the next unfortunate victim, and ran hither and yon for ages looking for something, anything, to assist. Eventually I ran to YouTube, which was very helpful indeed.

Not being helpful meant it became a chore, and chores arenít fun. You can do actual chores if you want to, given to you throughout the game, but as far as I could tell you didnít have to. I stopped because, as I already mentioned, chores arenít fun.

Too often Lucius just went nowhere, and after a while, apart from the deadly pay-off, it all got a bit the same. Itís the same house, the same objective, the same lots of things. Itís also completely linear. And while at times the dark undercurrent of humour brings a little spark, or a nicely put together mishap with, say, a meat saw tickles that little part of your hindbrain that you donít like to talk about, overall its rather underwhelming.

Drab too, both in look and sound. Which is ok, given the goings on.

Items you can interact with react to the cursor and there is a lot that can be opened and closed and examined and rummaged. The Manor is a functioning home, and functions like a Manor should Ė except for the dead bodies.

The save game function didnít appeal, mainly because there isnít one. At least not one you can operate. Get to the end of the chapter and you get a save at the start of the next one. Fail anywhere in the chapter Ė be seen doing something suspicious, get caught using your powers Ė and start the chapter again. Some are short but some arenít, especially if itís one of those ďwhat the hell am I supposed to doĒ chapters. And donít even get me started on the enemy dodging start again endgame. Did I mention my good friend YouTube?

Itís a shame about Lucius. In there was a good game, perhaps even a very good one, struggling under the weight of some poor design. If you like a grisly death or dozen, and have a good deal of patience and persistence, the unravelling of the family and those around them is well done indeed. Too much though isnít, making it unattractive to anyone else. 

C-

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB

 

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