Review: Lucius Demake "A well-realised de-make that is better than the original, but there are bugs in Lucius’ bed…" #GameDev #IndieGame

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Lucius De-make
Platform reviewed: PC (Steam)
Rating: Melting
The story of Lucius owes a great deal to the 1976 film ‘The Omen’, whereby a child is born of the Devil and raised in a human household. I played the original game a few years ago and found it to be a solid, entertaining idea poorly implemented with cumbersome controls and gameplay that could learn a great deal from the more fluid and interactive Hitman series in that Lucius didn’t feel particularly user-friendly or clear, often resulting in wandering around the house unsure of what to do in order to trigger the next section of the game.

The Lucius de-make of the game, however, fares much better for me. The Commodore 64 graphical stylings are very accurate (muted colour palette ahoy!) and the music is a great fit for the faux 80’s aesthetic (although it can get repetitive). Due to the top-down adventure genre that the demake puts forward, the game is inherently more clear and straightforward than the original game, the story, however, follows the same plot points and narrative.
The game begins with Lucius being visited by Lucifer and getting told to murder everyone in his house to gain souls for Satan, the little tinker! And so with a spring in his step, off he goes a-murderin’.
The game’s graphics are really quite accurate for the Commodore 64 and combined with the loading screens and awesome 8-bit artwork of the murder sequences I genuinely forgot that I was playing a modern game, in that aspect, it is very convincing. The way the other characters stand around or move through the house reminded me of Friday 13th on the Commodore 64 and Murder! On the Amiga 500 so it was all very nostalgic and enjoyable for me to romp around the house completing side quests and absorbing the very 80’s gaming atmosphere.
The games’ linear design makes it quite fast-moving, there are no enemies to speak of unless it’s evening and you are sneaking around the mansion and even then you just have to avoid the other inhabitants of the house, the game's challenge comes from the adventure elements. You have a Teddy bear and later on a Ouija board that gives hints, although the daily chapter headings and item descriptions give you a strong idea of what diabolical deeds that you need to get up to (for example in the episode ‘Tone Death’ when you pick up a small wrench, Lucius says ‘I bet I could loosen something with this’…and there’s that piano in the living room, hmmm…).
The music quickly becomes repetitive and so I turned it off, which to me was a more accurate C64 experience as I listened to the soft thuds made by Lucius’ feet as he traverses his home looking for items with which to get all murderey, the little sausage!

For the first five chapters as I made my way through the labyrinthine home picking up items like bullets, superglue and a screwdriver, all of which I knew would come in handy at some point for the ending of peoples lives, I noticed that there were a few side-quests that can be completed like cleaning your room alongside fetch quests such as finding a lost music cassette for a handy-man or getting a tire-iron for the mechanic, all of which are quite simplistic but add some enjoyable padding to the games main quests and also serve as a way of fully exploring the house and grounds to get your bearings, oh how I whistled as I made my way through my humble home turning the crosses on the walls upside down!
The game has quite a few chapters and so contains several hours of game time, a solid length for what is essentially an 8-bit game. As you progress through the game, you can also unlock toys such as a tricycle to speed up your travelling and get other presents for completing side-quests whereas Lucifer unlocks your inner evil powers such as telekinesis which adds variety to the murders. Yes, I was thoroughly enjoying myself with the Lucius De-make…until I discovered a bug that caused me to have to restart the entire game.
I was in chapter 5, needing to find rat poison to murder the maid. I found Alastair placing rat poison in the games room to catch some rodents; I’d have to return in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep to pick it up without being seen so I went back to bed. When I awoke, it was pitch black…and I realised that the flashlight that I’d picked up in chapter 1 had bugged out of the game. This resulted in me spending about ten minutes awkwardly avoiding people in the house and trying to make my way to the other side of the map completely from memory…  in total darkness. It was NOT fun. When I eventually reached the room I realised that I couldn’t pick up the poison anyway because it was already in my inventory from earlier on…but the game hadn’t let me poison the bread because I hadn’t triggered the night-scene. This meant that I either had to re-start the game and not pick up the poison until I was supposed to (and if that’s the case, why was it available from the start of the game?), or maybe the bug was because I didn’t have my flashlight. Checking my saves, I realised that I’d lost the flashlight sometime in chapter 2…so I’d have to pretty much restart the game anyway.

As an 8-bit conversion of the original Lucius and a blast of nostalgia, Lucius De-make is very successful, but I’m not sure how much enjoyment a younger crowd would get out of the game if they have no nostalgia for the 8-bit systems. Also, more seasoned players may find the game too simplistic to add any challenge to them. Personally, I was enjoying the game up until I realised I’d have to restart because of the flashlight bug. I’ll probably play it again but I don’t feel the urge to replay the first five chapters and re-complete all the side-quests just yet.
The game is also available on Android and I’m not sure if the same issues plague the game, but I can imagine it would be a solid game to play on the move as it can be enjoyed in short bursts, ideal for the mobile gamer who enjoys some retro adventure action.
Right, I’m off to put a load of marbles on the top of my staircase and rub vegetable oil over the bannisters before I call up to Father to tell him his strange-smelling dinner is ready…

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Shiver Games

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt

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