Revealed September 10th on an episode of GTTV after weeks of rumors, Lucidity is developer LucasArts’ new downloadable title. Unlike their last few releases like Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition or Loom, Lucidity is an original IP. More importantly, it was built from the ground up internally at the studio.
Lucidity (Steam, Xbox LIVE Arcade [reviewed])
Lucidity is an odd bird. Its graceful, almost hidden narrative succeeds in invoking emotion left otherwise unprovoked by its visual elegance. But the game fails on a fundamental level, serving as a case in point that rich art and good, thoughtful narrative can’t hide or replace solid mechanics. Just like a glorious cover hides a bad book, this game’s innards are fractured and mashed underneath its colorful and inspired look.
Sofi as the young and innocent is expressed well through the core mechanics. The girl moves headlong into environments without a controller’s aid. Thus, the task at hand is to guide Sofi and become her protector via a woefully simplistic object selection system.
The levels are full of dangerous pits and enemies, and they must be avoided through the use of ideal objects at ideal times. Unfortunately, this almost never happens. Instead, players are forced to use a chaotic mess of items to propel Sofi past hazards. Where a stairway would be sufficient, for example, the player must instead use a fan, a block, and then spring shoes to move over a simple spiky pit. This causes a variety of issues as Sofi treads through levels and leads to numerous unavoidable, face-puckering deaths as one chaotic solution leads to a series of chaotic solutions.
The fail states are the worst. In the later levels, a nightmarish blackness envelops, acting as a timer of sorts and pushing the tempo of item placement. If Sofi gets stuck on a wall and the correct item can’t be utilized quickly enough, the game is over. This, is in addition to the slow movement that using less-than-ideal objects causes, induces rage.
And again, adding to this are the convoluted levels that feature too many joints and sticking points, along with confusing and much-too-dangerous passageways
The game does have its bright spots, but they are all within systems the player doesn't use to play the game. The thoughtful story and rich art are lost in the chaos of the object selection system. Lacking the intuitiveness that the game demands, Lucidity is a product that feels incomplete, despite the polish on the visuals. Perhaps with a patch the system can be salvaged, but until then, it’s best to steer away.
Score: 4.5 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
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