A First Look by Flotsam
This is an unusual first look given my playtime to date. The game is to blame but so am I.
Lacuna is very 2D noir, featuring detectives, conspiracies and cigarettes. How many of the latter is up to you, like many things within the game.
After a short prologue, you are Neil Conrad, an agent of the Central Department of Intelligence charged with protecting a diplomat from off-world. Awakened in the middle of the night, we can all imagine what the phone call was about.
I liked Neil. Flawed in so many ways, grappling with the relationship with his ex and his daughter. Planetary intrigue has nothing on those things, maybe.
A key part of the game is detecting, and you can get it wrong. Get it wrong enough, and you may not sort out what has actually happened. That could have all sorts of impacts for all sorts of things, with the fate of many dependent on how good Neil is at his job.
Or the choices he makes - some things don't have a right answer, just e.g. a moral conundrum, or a lesser or greater good.
Many games promise those sorts of things, but Lacuna does an excellent job of feeling like it is delivering. The fact that it autosaves - meaning no "take-backs" as the maker says - is just one of the relevant elements. That aspect irritated me at first, the way any game that doesn't let me save when I want to does, but I came to appreciate it.
The way the detecting works is another aspect (more on that in a minute) but it's really a sum of the parts sort of thing. So much so that I was pushing ahead to get to the end to tell you why you should play it, but ultimately stopped to
not make another hasty decision about which I might actually eventually wish I hadn't made.
You will find out all sorts of things, through things like the news feeds you read and the people you speak with. Conversation choices might open or close an avenue of information, or whether they actually want to talk to you. It's more of that sum part thing I mentioned.
To help you sift all that and deliver your deductions, you will receive "sheets", accessed like so many things through your PDA/phone/futuristic messaging device. There is so much in there, including the logs of conversations, and I have spent a lot of time in there. Complete the sheets to submit your deduction to whomever (the first one is part of the prologue and is submitted to your teacher) and cross your deductive fingers and see how you move on.
Sit occasionally, and let Neil ponder what he knows. Step onto a balcony, light up, and contemplate the view.
Did I mention the investigative mode? You will need to use that in the game world.
There are voice overs but by and large you read the dialogue. Sounds and a soundtrack are present.
The input is described by the maker as "platformer movement controls", and while you can include the mouse in your endeavours it certainly isn't point and click. I am fine with keyboard controls, but like to choose my own configuration (which I couldn't do), and I was more comfortable when I abandoned the mouse altogether. Using a controller might be even better.
Don't let that put you off though. There is a lot to like here, and I haven't even got to the end and started to play again.