25/04/2021

๐Ÿ’€ Lust From Beyond | PC | Review | 8/10 | "There’s No Shortage of Games About Sex" ๐Ÿ’€ @PixelHunted @MGLunarium #GameDev #IndieGames

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There’s no shortage of games about sex. The thing is, the vast majority of them are developed and played by people who obviously aren’t getting any. 

A quick glance at Steam’s ‘Sexual Content’ category indicates that the majority are there to let nerds molest anime schoolgirls - a strong indicator that sex is likely to forever remain a theoretical concept for the average consumer of erotic games.

Lust From Beyond is different. This is a game that could only have been created by exquisitely depraved perverts with expertise in manipulating every gooey, dark and aromatic orifice the human body has to offer. 

This is horror in the tradition of Clive Barker: approaching sexuality as a doorway through which intense pleasures and exquisite pain can crawl.

The game itself is a first-person horror title with a focus on puzzles, some stealth elements and minimal combat. There’s quite a bit of Resident Evil 7’s DNA here, though smartly filtered through a small indie development team’s capabilities.
Perhaps the best design decision is that Lust From Beyond is very easy. There are only a handful of outright enemies across the game’s eight hours and it’s trivial to outrun and avoid them. But, crucially, the game doesn’t feel easy: the atmosphere is dense and foreboding, the sound design nerve-wracking (headphones are a must) and though the enemies aren’t much of a threat, you don’t want them to catch you.

But the real triumph is the incredible environmental design. Much of the game takes place in ‘The Land of Ecstasy’ Lust’ghaa: an intricately detailed biomechanical hell that heavily cribs from Giger and Beksiล„ski. It’s a fantastic location and tiptoeing through it feels like exploring the dark arteries of some gigantic diseased body. Lust’ghaa is what’s left of a world that chose endless bliss: the pulsating walls, oozing vulva doorways, statues locked in bizarre positions and twitching tongues all that remains of the former inhabitants.

The less surreal levels are also nicely done. The game periodically brings you back to a creaky Manor that acts as something of a base. There are secrets to uncover and lore to read, and the way you can rifle through every drawer and wardrobe is pleasantly Shenmue-ish in its banality.
Beyond all that, I was surprised by how invested I got in the story. It’s not exactly an emotional rollercoaster, but the bizarro Lovecraft mythology of Lust’ghaa, its creation and what it might mean for the world kept me interested, and I got quite attached to the gang of sex-crazed weirdos that inhabit the ‘Cult of Ecstasy’. 

Sure, the lead character’s voice acting isn’t great and the facial animation is dated, but that’s ameliorated by most characters wearing masks - a smart decision that makes sense in the setting.

Most of all I respect that Lust from Beyond isn’t remotely ashamed about being sexual and there is no ironic detachment from it. Sex is one of the bedrocks of horror, but video games tend to pay lip service to it and won’t go the whole hog. 

For example, Silent Hill 2 is rightly lauded for its sexual undertones, but even that the game hangs back and implies more than shows. There’s no such puritanism here, with the game literally dripping sexual fluids at every available opportunity and never shying from truly bonkers imagery.
Best of all, the sex is there to feed the themes of the story rather than to be pornographic. This is the internet so someone, somewhere is jerkin’ it at all times (you know who you are), but I still struggle to see how anyone could get off to some of Lust from Beyond’s disgusting and nauseating sexual encounters. 

But hey, malformed blobs of writhing flesh probably do it for someone…

I had very low expectations of Lust from Beyond and went into it expecting video game porn with a crappy horror aesthetic. 

Now, this isn’t perfect, but I’m genuinely impressed with the quality considering it’s the product of a small development team.
Just try and ignore that cheesy title.

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