Halloween is fast approaching and what better way to get into the spirit than by playing a horror game. Developed by Shiver Games, Lucius is a unique third person hybrid of action and horror-adventure gameplay. This game has you starring as a six year old boy who must orchestrate the death of his household members in clever ways due to his father Lucifer’s (Yep, that’s the devil.) demand. But that’s not all; as you must make sure that your “incidents” appear as accidents to avoid suspicion. If I was to compare it to a movie, it would most definitely be to ‘The Omen’ as the setting and story is pretty similar aside from the fact that in this game the child himself kills rather than a supernatural force. So there will be times when the narrative feels unoriginal, but nonetheless is nicely presented with great cinematics and some good voice work, save for a few annoying ones like those for the Latina maids.
The game, although with a child protagonist or “antagonist”, if you may doesn’t hold back on the gore as you’ll be seeing a lot of heads split open and blood splattering everywhere. So this is definitely a mature game, especially with the added nudity in one of the final chapters. The kills are one of the highlights of this game as they are cleverly orchestrated and are simple enough that you can figure them out with a good amount of thinking and if that doesn’t work, Lucius keeps a journal to take down notes which you can refer to for help. You also have a range of supernatural powers at your disposal, including Telekinesis and Mind Control which unlock as you rack up more souls for your father and can prove helpful in dealing with some tricky situations, but be aware that you need power for them which can deplete when you run into a hanged cross, the only weakness of Lucius.
The controls are pretty simple; you walk with the “WASD” keys and look around to interact with environments using the mouse. You can also use the mouse wheel to select how far behind Lucius you want the camera to be. The hud is neat and simple with a crosshair that changes shape when you point to a useable object such as doors and items that can be used or picked up. The major problem with the crosshair unfortunately is that it is placed very close to the head of Lucius and would’ve been better on top of his head or further on his right shoulder side as the default layout can make some actions tedious, such as when you have to attack someone using your fire ability. Most animations of the game are really impressive, especially the kill animations which really look as horrific and detailed as they should and even though some animations such as those for the tricycle or walking down stairs could’ve used a better touch, they are in no way game breaking. Speaking of game breaking, the impressive thing about this game is that throughout my entire gameplay, I did not encounter a single game breaking bug. Sure there were a few times when the tricycle would sink through the floor when I wasn’t sitting on it but it would pop back up when I did. Some of the cloth physics could’ve used a little more work in my opinion as when you are running while holding them, can stretch to unbelievable lengths. The graphics on the other hand are absolutely gorgeous due to the great lightning, clear textures and realistically good looking character models that tend to stand out. The game even seems well optimized with a good amount of options to tinker with and it runs as well as it looks once you find balanced settings for your rig.
As for the length of the game, since Lucius is the son of a minister, he lives in a huge and luxuriously designed house compromising of many rooms and servants that you will all get to kill in a total of 19 chapters. Even though the entire game takes place in the same house, it doesn’t feel repetitive or too long due to the varied amount of kills in it and the abilities you unlock. The house might be tedious and confusing to navigate the first few times but it gets easy as you get used to the layout after a few chapters. Aside from the main missions, you have the options to do your chores, that once are totally finished, unlock 3 items that can help you in-game. The 3 items are An Ouija board that gives you hints to your current objective, a music box that illuminates interactive objects around you and a ride-able tricycle that you can use to move around the house more conveniently. The Music Box is the only thing that feels useless as it doesn’t work as well as you’d hope. It works only for a brief moment, in which it is still hard to find whatever it is that you are looking for, and adding that with the fact that it can only be used 6 times per chapter can lead to frustration.
Finally let’s move on to my favorite aspects of the game, the music and cinematics. The music of Lucius is powerful and driving, with aggressive string work and haunting vocals that really make the game sound blockbuster and classic in a good way. It has the capacity to sound both beautiful and sinister according to the mood of the game. The cinematics are absolutely well done with amazing use of slow motion effects, which mixed with the music are absolutely stunning and breathtaking. One of my favorite examples is the first kill where you trap one of your maids in the walk in freezer by locking its door from the outside using a padlock, the camera moves past the maid and when she exhales her breath, which is clearly visible due to the falling temperature, the motion beautifully slows down. It is in fact a very stylistic and interesting approach that really outshines especially during the solid finale, which are the last two chapters.
FINAL VERDICT: 7.5/10 [Personal Opinion] + Clever and Satisfying Kills + Breathtaking Use of Slow-motion + Amazing Music + A Beautiful Finale – Some Clumsy Controls and Awkward Animations that Make the Gameplay Harder Then It should be at timesbut doesn’t break the game in anyway – At Times the Narrative Can Seem Uninspired
So all in all, even though Lucius is not a perfect game, it is definitely a good one. With cleverly varied killings, great visuals and a breathtaking mixture of music and cinematics, the game doesn’t feel like a low budget title at all and is enough to engross horror and adventure fans alike, and it is truly a game that gives you a good amount for its cheap price. Also I personally hope they make a big budget sequel for this game, as there is still a lot more potential in this interesting mix of genres.