Nate from Indie Game HQ takes a look at Shiver Games’ latest title, Lucius. A third-person horror adventure title, Lucius features mind-bending mental powers, mysterious and cunning deaths, lots of gore, and delivers plenty of opportunities for the meticulously observant gamer to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
GAME NAME: Lucius
DEVELOPER(S): Shiver Games
PUBLISHER(S): Lace Mamba Global
RELEASE DATE(S): Oct. 26, 2012
Caution: This game is not for the feint of heart. Lucius may feature a young child, but is not necessarily appropriate for younger audiences. The game plays host to many adult themes; including spectacular death scenes, nudity, and even the chance to film sex scenes between adults in real-time.
We would like to thank Lace Mamba & Shiver Games for giving us the opportunity to review their latest title. For more, please check out Lucius’ website at ShiverGames.com
If you’re looking for a game where canvassing every room to find the next piece of the puzzle is an absolute necessity, Lucius might be right up your alley. Covering the expanse of a large and haunting mansion, the player will need to be incredibly observant and pay close attention to small details in order to progress through the story.
Lucius is a young boy, born on the sixth of June in the year 1966. His wealthy parents aren’t aware that Lucifer has tasked the young boy with the mission of taking over the world, starting with his family’s wealth and power. Lucifer appears to the boy on the eve of his sixth birthday and tasks Lucius with killing his first victim.
Each chapter in the game will lead the player around different wings of Dante Manor. In order to complete your mission and move on to a new chapter you must accomplish each of the tasks leading to the inevitable murder of a member in your household. Lucius keeps a diary of his exploits, which serves to advise the player of where to go and what to do next.
If you become stuck, there are hint items like Ouija boards and items blessed by Lucifer that can help you progress through the story. You can gain access to these items by doing household chores like taking out the trash and picking up your room, each of which are assigned by various characters in the game.
Throughout the course of the game, the player will come across a series of items which will help to further Lucius’ progress. These consist of things like rocks, screwdrivers, power tools, and even a loaded handgun.
In addition, you can combine certain objects to create a more usable, and ultimately more deadly weapon.
For example, you can find a power drill early in the game along with some nails that lie nearby an unplugged air compressor. Simply pick up and combine the nails with the power drill, grab the plug on the floor and attach to the electrical outlet on the wall, then activate the compressor with the combined drill & nails to create a deadly weapon for later use.
As a player in Lucius, you must be incredibly observant and highly astute as you wonder through a very large mansion. Items you’ll need to interact with are sometimes very small and the casual observer might miss them.
Progressing through the game, Lucius will be gifted with certain powers from Lucifer. These powers range from telekinesis, with the ability to move or blow up objects with your mind, to incinerating people with a devastating fireball.
Throughout the manor there are a series of crosses hanging on the wall. When you come within range of these crosses your power meter will dip and you will no longer have access to your special abilities in that area. To get them back simply approach the cross, turn it upside down and your power meter will immediately refill.
Now, while your journal tries to do a good job of dropping hints I often found myself wondering around in circles trying to figure out what to do next. At first I assumed that I needed to better familiarize myself with the very large Dante Manor in which the game takes place. However, as I progressed through the game I continued to find myself a little lost. For instance, I still have not found the trash I need to take to the dumpsters out back to complete one of Lucius’ chores.
It would have been nice to see a few more overt hints about where to go and what to do, especially earlier on in the game when its mechanics are so new to the player. This was the type of game where I really didn’t know what I could interact with, what would be important to the current mission, and what was background filler.
There is an in-game map to guide the player around, styled as if it were drawn in crayon by a child. To help direct you towards your next victim, green arrows will highlight a particular route through the mansion. Waypoints are far and few in between, however, and will typically only appear at the very beginning of a chapter. As a result, waypoints end up not being much help to the player.
However, once you do get the hang of the user interface and learn how to manipulate objects and your powers the game can quickly become addicting. The path to completing each chapter is very linear but the reward is also, typically, very worth it.
Each death is a descriptively rendered cut scene with lots of blood and lots of gore. Deaths in the game range from human sacrifice to impaling, freezing, incineration, decapitation by lawn equipment, and even includes death by piano.
The soundtrack for Lucius does a good job of highlighting the eerie expanse of the mansion in which the player will spending a lot of time wondering around. The haunted, orchestrated tones you’ll hear can definitely keep you on edge.
The only issue I found was that sometimes the background music could get a little repetitive, mainly when I hit a road block looking for my next objective and needed to spend time retracing my steps. Still, the soundtrack to the game was well done and did not go unappreciated.
Speaking of sounds, voice acting in the game is generally very solid. Some actors were more convincing than others, but I never found that anyone detracted from my experience.
Lucius has some nice visuals, especially considering its status as an indie genre title. That’s not to say anything disparaging about indie games but, rather, to highlight that games like Lucius attempt to break the mold on a perception that indie titles only consist of 2D platformers or side-scrolling shmups.
Animation is smooth and the art style definitely fits the tone of the game. Lucius himself is one creepy little guy: His pale skin and blank stare leave me glad that I’m looking at the back of his head for most of the game.
Shadows tend to be a little pixellated, but not to a detrimental effect. I did come across a weird glitch from time to time, but the developer has been rolling out patches since I started playing, and so these may already be fixed by the time Lucius releases.
Speaking of shadows, I wanted to mention a little about the flashlight. The shadows cast by the flashlight were exceptionally well done: So well that I found myself hoping the flashlight would be more practical to use throughout the game. It was very reminiscent of the Alan Wake games. Alas, most nighttime missions required a lot of stealth and so I really never got to use it very much. Though I do wish movement of the flashlight itself was mapped to the mouse and not to the keyboard, it was still a nice feature to observe.
Lucius has a pretty standard options menu, complete with graphics settings, resolution, v-sync and key mapping. But I was disappointed to see that the only graphics settings I had to choose from were low, medium, high, and ultra.
As a PC gamer I really like to tweak my settings to get the best eye candy to performance ratio. Being able to turn on/off things like ambient occlusion and motion blur on a whim are right up my alley, so not being able to do that in Lucius was kind of a bummer; especially considering the massive frame rate hit from ultra. The difference in visual quality from high to ultra high did not justify the massive frame rate drop I experienced. Setting graphics to high still looked great, and so I wasn’t too displeased.
Note that I did look around in my Windows folders for a more in-depth configuration file but came up empty handed, aside from a basic config.txt file.
Down to the Nitty Gritty
Overall, Lucius is a great game for anyone who loves adventure titles where you really have to pay attention to details. It is very easy to miss an object the first time through a new room, and you will definitely have to think hard at times to figure out your next step towards killing someone in the house.
Keep in mind that you definitely should not play this game with little kids in the room. If the fully nude sex scene that 6-year old Lucius will film during the course of the game isn’t enough to convince you keep to the kids away, then the blood, screaming, and death cinematics should.
This game is not for the feint of heart but will definitely keep you on your toes. Lucius releases for Steam on Friday, October 26th and does come with a full lineup of Steam Achievements.
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