by Michael Cooper
Game Review: Lux-Pain
Release: March 27, 2009
Genre: Adventure / Guided Novel
Developer: Killaware / Ignition Entertainment
Available Platforms: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: T
Lux-Pain is unlike any game I have ever played before. Instead of having any actual gameplay, it is more like a novel in which you have very little control over the stories progression (although there are plentiful endings). I started the game with careful optimism, because I am an avid reader and the description of the game on the back of the box had me intrigued to say the least. The story is very dark, dealing with subjects such as parental abuse, death, depression, and even suicide.
You play as Atsuki Saijo a detective of sorts, who is tasked with going back to high school and pretending to be a student. You do this in order to find the first, or original “Silent”. The Silents are the antagonist of the game, and they essentially infiltrate other peoples emotions leading them to do horrific things. Atsuki has the ability (called Sigma) to see the Silent’s along with the much more common “enemy” that is worms.
The gameplay boils down to clicking on different buildings or locales and interacting with onscreen characters via what I can only describe as “speech challenges”. The game focuses heavily on the emotions of the characters, so it is important to choose your response options carefully.
Occasionally something known as a worm will appear on the top screen of the DS and you are tasked with “erasing” it on the bottom screen. These worms are the result of piques in a characters emotions. Once you have successfully “erased” the worm the screen fills up with mostly depressing phrases and words detailing how the character was feeling. That is pretty much the extent to which you actually play the game. Later on a bit more variety in these challenges come in the form of “The Silent” but it does little to spice up the gameplay.
The game is promising in a few ways. As I mentioned earlier, the story has quite a bit of potential, but it is wasted with absolutely miserable localization. Grammatical errors make some scenes almost impossible to understand or even comical in nature. The way the game chooses to drop you right into the middle of things with little to no explanation is also tedious, as it chooses to instead slowly reveal why things are the way they are. This might work in a different scenario, but not here.
If Killaware and Ignition Entertainment decide to make a sequel to Lux-Pain, or a game of similar fashion, one of their main focuses needs to be getting a better localization team. If the story had been more coherent and dark, and far less humorous due to all the grammatical and spelling mistakes I could easily see myself wanting to continue playing.
Killaware and Ignition Entertainment also need to focus on coming up with a much more compelling “gameplay” idea. Simply scratching at my DS screen continually provided absolutely no enjoyment. If they were able to add more variety I can see it being a lot more engrossing, but as it is now it simply left me wanting more.
Finally, the menu system here is a disaster. The menu titles are extremely vague and caused me to redo certain selections repeatedly to find what I was looking for. The option to “Talk” would not let your character talk, but the option “Info” would. That is just a very basic example, but gives you an idea of the issues that arose.
Final Verdict: I recommend that you avoid this game. The game does a good job of luring you in with flashy box art and an intriguing plot synopsis on the back cover, but these are dirty tricks. Head to your local library or bookstore instead.