Lucius Review: Murders That Make You Want to Kill Yourself


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Occasionally, my very intelligent but non-gamer fiancĂ©e will comment on how good I am at games, and how smart I must be because of this fact as she watches me intuit a convoluted solution to a complex in-game problem. I’m always quick to offer a humble interjection — being good at solving video game puzzles does not make one smart, because games often operate on something I like to call “video game logic.”

Spend any length of time solving video game puzzles and you’re bound to look intelligent to an outsider, but the truth is not that you’re especially smart, it’s just that you’re experienced with video games. You learn to think like developers — the kinds of people who rarely put in two paths unless the seemingly useless one contains a hidden item, or add a waterfall to a level unless you can slip behind it.

If you’ve solved a few old-school Resident Evil puzzles in your day, you understand video game logic; you learn to look for the single object with which you can interact in an environment and which is undoubtedly the solution to some puzzle, somewhere, no matter how strange or esoteric it may be. Then, when you’re right, you look like you’re crazy smart, but really, you just remembered an obscure bit of information and matched the square peg to the square hole. Figuring out a puzzle when you can only interact with two things in a room is not a sign of great intelligence, no matter how obscure the solution may seem.

Video game logic, thankfully, has been a tool slowly falling out of general use as games become more complex and well-made, but it’s back in force in the indie title Lucius. The rampant use of esoteric puzzles, some of which are so seemingly random as to be nigh unsolvable, makes for a game filled with thinly veiled tests of whether you can guess what the developer who created the scenario was thinking at the time. It’s an incredibly infuriating enterprise, one from which you gain nothing. It’s never, ever fun.

I don’t say this lightly: I hated every second of Lucius.

Lucius
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Shiver Games
Publisher: Lace Mamba Digital
Released: Oct. 26, 2012
MSRP: $24.99

Oh, and how many seconds there were.

Lucius is essentially the film The Omen turned into a video game, with players taking on the role of Damien Lucius, the son of the devil. On his sixth birthday, Lucius is visited by Lucifer and told he needs to start offing the many folks who live and work in Dante Manor, the home of his wealthy family. He starts by locking a maid in a freezer, then hiding the padlock he used to do it when the cops show up.

Each level, or chapter, of Lucius is predicated on another murder. In order to complete it, Lucius has a few tools in hand — first, whatever items he picks up around the house, and second, his notebook, in which clues and objectives are written, journal-style.

The murders play out like this: Lucius identifies the target, and then in the notebook are written some clues about them, like what they’re up to in particular that day. Lucius can then interact with them, see what they’re doing, or interact with other characters. Most of the time, it’s up to you to divine what the game wants from you, because despite the impression the game would love to give you, you don’t get to set up these catastrophic accidents for these people like a series of Rube Goldberg, Final Destination events. Instead, each murder is a specific puzzle you have to solve, placing the correct elements in their places not unlike an adventure title, until the game pats you on the head and tells you that you’ve done what it wanted.

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11 Comments on Lucius Review: Murders That Make You Want to Kill Yourself

Johansson

On October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I’ve been thinking about buying the game. I’ve red from other gaming sites about this and it has got pretty good reviews. It’s probably just not a game for Phil? I think I’ll try it since other sites have praised it.

Phil Hornshaw

On October 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

@Johansson

Good luck to you, then. Let us know what you think here. I don’t think that it was “not a game for me” — I’ve been excited to try Lucius for about a year now, but the flaws were just too big to overcome. Still, like I said, if you end up with a different perspective, feel free to return and share it.

quicktooth

On October 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm

A “game” about a child explicitly murdering his family. This is why humanity needs God to squash it a few times, to get rid of the soulless horrible evil like this. I just got to remember there are decent folks out there too; this… heinous crime in video game form could cost a person their faith in humanity.

Dick Cheese

On October 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

@quicktooth: This game is supposed to be like the movie “The Omen” maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe it was too satanic for you, but that movie is basically like this video game. I guess games like Hitman, Grand Theft Auto or FPS games are also too evil for you too? What do you play, Barbie’s Horse Adventure? Grow some balls man, just because it isn’t a good game doesn’t mean the Devil made it!

ShutUp

On October 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

@QuickTooth

No one asked you, jesus freak. I hate how religious people feel the need to remind everyone how sorry they feel for our deprived ways. We are just fine and are perfectly allowed to enjoy any heinous activity we want. I don’t think it justifies our race getting squashed. Some people enjoy “role playing” and probably contribute far more to society than you ever will.

As for the game, thanks for the review Phil. Helped me dodge a bullet since my mouse had hovered over the “add to cart” button on steam.

Ezelkir

On October 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Thanks for the review! Very fun to read! Too bad the game isn’t what I hoped it would be though. ^^’

Chips

On October 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

Sounds tedious.

SteelRat

On October 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I read this review before buying the game, and I read some others, all of which were positive, so I bought the game. It’s made me realize this, most video game reviewers are either paid off by developers or don’t bother to play the game and instead rehash the game’s publicity feeds.
Lucius is EXACTLY like Phil describes. Imagine, if you will, the most frustrating video game puzzle you’ve ever been stuck on. Now, stretch that out to an entire game. Yes the artwork is good, not great, but on par with other releases, and the actual murders are entertaining to watch… but the actual game play is about as much fun as trying to wander around a pit of broken glass wearing a blindfold.
From now on, I’m listening to Phil. If I had, I’d have 22 bucks more in my pocket.

gunar

On October 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I loved this game!!! I was just like MUHAHAHA!!! All the time I played it. Like I don’t think the game is supposed to be taken seriously because I was like MUHAHAAHA dumb es and I love you daddy to satan and just stupid ed up lines I would say and the gameplay didn’t bug me at all. Then again I like all puzzle games so thats just me and so yeah this game isn’t supposed to be taken seriously and your supposed to laugh as you murder these people because your satans child and its just so funny to me for some reason because we would never do that in real life but here you can be a stereotypical evil laughing funny kinda joker character and its just so fun to play this game….love this game….felt like the joker…..never knew my plan and had funny commentary to every situation….completely insane…

Phil Hornshaw

On October 28, 2012 at 8:52 am

@Steelrat

Hey, thanks! And thanks for reading!

Also, “about as much fun as trying to wander around a pit of broken glass wearing a blindfold” is a hilarious analogy.

Hmmm

On November 5, 2012 at 12:16 am

Well, after viewing a video playthrough of the 2nd puzzle, it does seem like this game is all about finding needles in haystacks.

It reminds me of those 2D Flash games i play from time to time; they’re exactly like Lucius, but they’re shorter. And being 2D means there are limited objects to click (but the concept is still the same i suppose, click everything till something works).

The cutscenes coupled with the music are nice though, but i think the horribly boring gameplay’s gonna turn me off.