Inspired by adventure games, The Omen films and open-world action games, Lucius (from publisher Lace Mamba and developer Shiver Games) offers gamers the opportunity to play as a truly evil protagonist, unlike games of the past such as Fable and Overlord where players were less evil and more like a cartoon villain. So, what does a semi-open world game about realizing your potential as the Anti-Christ play like?
Born on the 6th of June, 1966, Lucius is a seemingly normal little boy with sinister leanings. He’d be the type of kid you would find pulling the legs off of spiders or setting “accidental” fires. On his 6th birthday however, Lucius is feeling particularly wicked and murders his family’s maid, by locking her in the walk-in freezer (this also serves as games tutorial). After covering his tracks and assuring nobody assumes him as a murderer, Lucius is then contacted by Satan himself and informed that his indeed no average child. Satan then tasks Lucius with collecting souls for him, and grants him supernatural powers as both rewards and tools for completing the game’s various missions.
The gameplay is a mix between open-world action games (particularly Hitman, where stealth and careful planning is required for each successful kill and to not arouse suspicion) and the puzzle elements from the early Resident Evil games. Completing a mission treats the player to watching a very gruesome murder of an innocent person, which are usually pretty sickening to watch. An early murder of a drunken handyman had me taken aback in shock, as I crushed his head with a grand piano, his skull shattering under the its weight, spilling blood and brains onto the floor.
The puzzle elements of Lucius are pointless, and frustrating. Finding the right tool to gain you access to murdering someone can be needlessly difficult, especially considering early in the game you have access to telekinesis. However, if the game were missing these murder set up scenarios, it would be a relatively short game. Another silly exercise in Lucius is cleaning his room, or doing chores, the aim of which is convincing everyone else that you’re a “good boy”. Once again, the game would be over pretty quickly if you didn’t have to complete these mundane tasks, but surely a cutscene showing Lucius complete them would have been better. Shiver games could have also taken the opportunity to use these moments to communicate with Satan, saving even more being detracted from the fun, but brief moments of murder gameplay.
This feeling doesn’t wear off after hours of gameplay in Lucius either, as I felt like I was constantly gathering tools and completing needless puzzles to gain access to the next murder. This wouldn’t be too annoying, if everything worked the way it should in Lucius, but it doesn’t. There are bugs, glitches, and if that wasn’t enough, almost unbearable loading times. Also, if you fail a mission rather quickly (the fifth mission involved sneaking around after bed time, avoiding people) the game has to load yet again. Every time my mother caught me out of bed I kept thinking to myself “just you wait till you get yours, mother!” though I’m fairly certain that was me being overwhelmed by frustration than any genuine immersion from Lucius’ part.
Speaking of immersion, there isn’t really any. All kills are linear, and must be done in a particular way, with no deviance. It’s a missed opportunity from Shiver, seeing as though the glaringly obvious kills are the only ones you can actually complete. It would have been fun to surprise and impress Satan himself with a genuinely creative murder, but there isn’t the opportunity to do so.
Lucius himself has no moral compass or growth as a character either. The game ultimately ends up being a process of 1. Find victim, 2. Find tool, 3. Kill victim, 4.Cclean your room, 5. Put up with annoying cutscene of Satan or cops investigating “accidents”. Rinse and repeat until complete.
Graphically, Lucius is on par with most modern adventure games, with the odd texture pop up or annoying motion blur on the game’s camera system. The lighting is good, with lightning and shadows setting up for some very creepy levels indeed. Following your mother through a moonlit corridor in one level feels particularly sinister, though the majority of levels take place in the day time.
The game’s environments are designed well enough considering the entire game takes place in the family mansion and surrounding grounds, I mean, there really is only so much you can do with a mansion from a visual design perspective. Fireplace, check. Black and white tiled kitchen, check. The characters in Lucius are also competent, though fairly average. Lucius himself has an odd, doll-like face that is both unnerving and detracting from the game. He looks like a garish mannequin, dressed (primarily) all in black and sporting a black side parted hair style.
Some of the animations are pretty impressive in the murder sequences, which surprised me, given the average quality to them in every other moment of gameplay in Lucius. People wander around the house, sometimes with things to do, but most characters are given menial, repetitve tasks to make your job of murdering them easier.
The sound in Lucius is below-average, though at least it isn’t overly cheesy. Some characters are well voiced, with others, such as the Irish handyman, being laughably terrible. The soundtrack is also bland, with Lucius having no memorable scores at all. I understand this may have been a precautionary choice, so as to not have the game’s immersion broken or atmosphere destroyed, but, there could have been more effort places in the sound and soundtrack. There isn’t much to say about the sound in Lucius, it’s merely adequate.
- Truly evil protagonist
- Murders are satisfying, though some are quite disturbing.
- Loading times are quite lengthy
- Graphical glitches
- Annoying amount of boring filler
- Some nonsensical design choices – such as Satan giving you a map of your own house.
Lucius offers very little outside of a few gruesome kills. Setting up a murder ultimately takes way too long in loading screens and needless preparation to motivate the player to continue playing past a few levels. Do yourself a favour and pick up Hitman: Absolution or the recently released Hitman HD Trilogy. They offer far more rewarding gameplay and variety.