Lucius is a game in which you play as a six-year old who discovers he is, in fact, the Anti-Christ, and he absolutely must murder every last living thing in his house otherwise daddy won’t love him as much. That first sentence would have inspired one of two reactions: you’re either thinking “This game sounds abysmal” or “Holy shit, let me at it”. If the fact that the game’s tutorial level is padlocking an old maid in a freezer and letting her die cold and alone just because you can brings a dark little grin to your heart, then this game is definitely going to be your Satanic cup of tea.
The thing that’s pretty important to point out from the off is that Lucius relies pretty heavily on the Anti-Christ thing throughout, so it does leave you wondering if this is a title that’s going to have any merits past the obvious gimmick of “Look at this six year old orchestrate brutal murders”. All too often great ideas like this fall short when it comes to gameplay and presentation, and many a game has gone unnoticed because of those issues. Thankfully, Lucius seems to dodge a lot of that and sails right on into, well, being pretty good.
There’s a lot of cheesiness to get past, especially if you’re going into it expecting something directly horrifying. The voice acting is B-Movie quality, and most of the characters you’re tasked with killing are walking stereotypes – your father’s sleazy campaign manager, the Spanish maid, the Irish drunkard groundskeeper – and this can be either lovable or a little passé depending on your approach. Either way, it doesn’t detract from what the game has to offer, essentially being a 3D point and click adventure in some extremely dark wrapping paper. Killings play out like little puzzles with implements of fetching, item finding and stealth that work surprisingly well together, even when things like weird voice acting and slightly wooden movement throw you off.
The plot runs a little thin, for example, if people started mysteriously dying in my gothic era mansion, I know the first person I’d point the finger at would be the mute six year old in a waistcoat who kept turning crosses upside down every time he entered a room. Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, his name is Lucius. If you’re going to call a kid Lucius and put him in a waistcoat every day, you’re asking for someone to telekinetically drop a piano on your head and watch with (hopefully intentionally) unblinking, cold dead eyes. The fact that he doesn’t react to the other characters in any way other than blind obedience or even show one iota of emotion at all is probably one of the game’s more sinister points. The only vague insight you get into his vile little head is through his journal entries, in which he writes things like “Gotta kill my dad’s friend today. He smokes inside and it pisses me off” or “The maid told me to go to bed. Better lock her in the freezer”. Okay, so that’s not exactly it, but it’s along those lines. The really odd thing is that Lucius’ first murder happens before the Devil appears and tells him he can get himself some neat supernatural powers if he makes a series of bloody sacrifices to daddy dearest. Lucifer just appears to give you a torch and tell you to go hide the padlock, which makes you wonder if the kid needs any direction at all.
With every death, Lucius gets more powerful, and this is another nicely implemented touch. As an example, his Telekinesis ability, which forms the core of his murderous mischief, lets him manipulate puzzle objects out of reach and do things like blow out light bulbs or turn on radios out of nowhere to freak people out and slowly guide them towards their doom. The only bad thing about the sinister murder plotting is that every death is fixed and you can’t approach the puzzles from different angles to get different results. It forces you to think in a very linear fashion, when it feels like you should have the freedom to be more creative with your evil deeds rather than just adhering to a pre-set structure of events. Having more than one way to pick off the typically British butcher in the cold room and so on would improve the game tenfold. Regardless, it’s a bit of a diamond in the rough. Lucius’ bloody journey to assuming control of the entire household feels satisfying when it works, and even when the visuals fall a little short, things like lighting and good overall sound design keep the atmosphere alive. There are a few glaring flaws that can become rather off putting if you’re playing for a while, there’s constantly background music playing and it doesn’t really give the creepiness of the situations you find yourself in a chance to settle. Imagine watching a horror movie where you’re constantly being told that you should be afraid right now by the person in the next seat, it makes what might be some chilling set pieces atmospherically bankrupt. Minor gripes aside, it still succeeds in what it’s set out to do, but there’s just a hell of a lot of room for improvement waiting in the empty rooms of Dante Manor. It’s a chance to live a classic horror movie trope from the killer’s perspective, which in this case is a genuinely unique experience.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.