Lucius III is a sequel which I never thought we would get. The first game in the series was almost a recreation of the Omen movie, where Lucius had just discovered he’s the son of the devil and must kill everyone in his household without getting caught. The second game followed on and had us begin our ‘adventure’ within a hospital which we were placed into after all of the horrific ‘accidents’ which occurred at our home. The third game also takes place immediately after the conclusion of the second game. So, as far as a trilogy goes, everything all seamlessly binds together, yet the gameplay style seems to change as we jump from one to another.
The series is best known for it’s glitchy and physics-breaking gameplay – Lucius came out two years prior to Goat simulator, so ‘dodgy physics’ was a new thing at the time. The games always felt low-budget and very amateur in mechanics, yet lots of fun to play when you get into the later portions of the game. Who doesn’t like making nurses slide into an open elevator shaft or firing a saw blade at someone to slice off their head?
However, we’re here to look at the third game today, something my PC doesn’t seem to want to run correctly, so, I’ll let Nicola continue the review and share her thoughts on it.
Let me start by saying I’ve not played the previous Lucius games, so I’m coming into the series without much knowledge of what’s happened previously or what to expect from Lucius III. So I apologise to any hard-core Lucius fans out there if I get anything wrong in this review.
The story so far
There are a few lines of text which quickly gives you a summary of the story so far but honestly, it didn’t give me the best insight and I would have preferred a few cutscenes from the previous games to set the scene. From what I can gather, Lucius acquired some supernatural powers and killed a lot of family members in his house which was part of a prophecy. Then, he got sent to an insane asylum to prevent the next part of the prophecy, which is where he killed even more people. Evil little bastard, honestly kids freak me out as it is so this kid is not going to become one of my favourite gaming heroes anytime soon. Lucius III continues on directly from the second game, which isn’t helpful if you haven’t played it as it doesn’t explain how you come across a certain scroll or what you are about to do.
The story continues
Lucius III opens up with the classic song ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ instantly getting me in the mood and expecting great things of what’s to follow. Lucius, our child ‘protagonist’, is in a yellow school bus being driven by his guardian Detective Jack McGuffin through a dark windy road in the woods. As the song comes to a close there is suddenly a man standing in the middle of the road and the bus swerves to avoid him and heads down the mountain side.
Luckily, you are both ok and the man who announces himself as Gabriel (as in the archangel Gabriel) is standing over Lucius, cigarette hanging between his lips and looking anything but heavenly in a nasty beige suit. He looks more like Constantine from the TV show of the same name actually. Gabriel had planned to kill you both but changes his mind seeing there is some hope for Lucius after all and will let things play out for now.
You now take control of Lucius for this new instalment of his narrative experience/adventure and get a short tutorial on how to run, jump and use your supernatural powers as you both make your way on foot down to the town jumping and moving the many obstacles that are between you and your destination. This was where I first started getting frustrated with the controls. After fiddling with the settings to turn up the sensitivity so it didn’t take me a full minute to look around myself, I carried on. I then spent a good ten minutes trying to jump over a gap that should have been an easy jump but instead I kept plummeting to my doom. The only upside to this was I seemed to unlock a few achievements for being such a massive failure.
Once you arrive at the bottom of the hill, and into your old hometown of Winter Hill, you swing by a neighbourhood BBQ to be introduced to the town folk and you are given a Polaroid camera to take some pictures of them, thus showing you how to use different items in your inventory. This inventory system is dated as in the last item you pick up is the one that is your default item to use. This means that after each photo the Polaroid becomes your active item rather than the camera so you have to go back into the inventory to reselect the camera in between each photo – which is annoying! After getting to meet everyone, you return to your new temporary home to settle in and have a look around and then retire for the night. This ends the prologue of Lucius III and will be as much of the story as I will go into detail about to prevent spoilers.
Once in your room, you will get access to a notepad which will act as a journal. In here you paste your Polaroid photos and keep notes on the town members you’ve met as you search for who could be the four horsemen (something that isn’t explained, so must be carried over from the previous game). You can also get hints on what you need to do next and a reminder of what you have done so far to help you on your quest in Lucius III, oh and also a very useful map which is probably the most colourful thing in this dark game. Sadly, the journal seems very buggy and will regularly delete the next steps and instead show you ones that you have already completed as if you haven’t moved past that part in the story. This isn’t the only bug either, sometimes after completing an action Lucius just wouldn’t move, I had to interact with an object to free him up again.
You can collect the hearts of crows in your inventory and this allows you to morph into a crow and fly around the map, which is quicker than walking, but if you morph back when you are too high in the air you will die upon impact and get sent back to where the autosave last kicked in, which was rather irritating if you had travelled a long way. I much preferred using the fast travel which you could activate from the map in your journal, as long as you had already visited a location. There were some very long open roads with nothing on them, so having to keep walking along them would have been a nightmare without the fast travel option.
Occasionally, in Lucius III, you will come across collectables to pick up in the form of bobbleheads (wait am I playing Fallout?!), I believe there to be about 30, all of them look exactly the same so its not a very exciting collectable, but at least you know what you are looking out for if you want to get them all!
I did like the references to some old movies from my childhood throughout the game. The first chapter is called ‘If you build it they will come’ which is a line from Field of Dreams. Later you get to use a Sultan fortune telling machine, which is out of the Tom Hanks movie Big and just in case you didn’t get the reference or thought it was a coincidence the achievement name clears it up.
The Technical stuff
I played Lucius III with a PS4 DualShock 4 controller. Trying to play with the controller didn’t work in regular Steam mode, but worked ok in Steams big picture mode. Sadly, it thought it was an XBOX controller so I had to ignore any on-screen button prompts and remember the XBOX button layouts, which I’m getting used to with Steam games.
I keep hearing how gaming PC’s are so superior for gaming, though I’m yet to find a PC only game that I find looks and plays really good. Lucius III reminded me of a PS2 game that had been remastered. Honestly, I expected a bit more with the game being on its third outing. I guess I will always just be a true console gamer, I just want to start a game without having to mess about changing settings and have it just work and play as it was meant to be played.
Lucius III instantly reminded me of the game Deadly Premonition which I had tried to play on the PS3 as it looked weird and different, but I struggled with how dated both games felt. Some games age well and are still highly playable generations later and some just don’t. I just don’t expect the same issues with new games. I guess not all games come from big studios that use the best engines and this is usually represented in the price so I shouldn’t be too picky as it means more developers can get their games to an audience. This is the case with Lucius III which is developed and published by Shiver Games an independent game developer from Helsinki, Finland who focus on peculiar and unique horror games. Since they were founded in 2010 they have just released games in the Lucius franchise so are obviously very committed to the Lucius brand.
The soundtrack for Lucius III is composed by Johannes Aikio who also did the score from the previous games and is available on Spotify if you like it. Personally, I found the audio in Lucius III is barely noticeable after the opening cutscene as outside of cutscenes there didn’t really appear to be any background music. I had such high hopes after ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ which isn’t even included on the soundtrack on Spotify! The voice acting is lousy and Lucius III suffers from lip syncing issues, although it’s an indie game so it’s not like they have the budget to hire great stars or talent so you have to expect that I guess.
The graphics are, as mentioned previously, dated and there are frame rate issues especially if you turn the sensitivity right up which causes stuttering. The environment is supposed to be dark and creepy to set the mood and even during the day it’s very much like a dreary wet day in the UK, so that works well. However, sometimes Lucius III was just too dark for its own good, you couldn’t see any detail as you were plunged into an overly shadowed area.
I found the controls and movement in Lucius III heavy and clunky. I often felt it was giving me a headache and giving me some motion sickness, especially when coupled with the aforementioned darkness, which put me off playing for more than an hour at a time.
While I try to have respect for indie games, they are just not always to my liking. I work full time so don’t get as much gaming time as I would like and so I want to spend my time playing games I’m going to enjoy. I thought I would enjoy Lucius III as it looked like my type of game but sadly it fell short of my expectations. Basically, it’s probably one of the worst games I’ve played in a long time. The developers clearly had big ambitions for Lucius III but they were in over their heads and couldn’t deliver on their vision with their resources.
However, if you have played and enjoyed the previous games then I have no reason why you shouldn’t get Lucius III to continue his journey, even if he doesn’t really say anything.
Rob – As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the previous two games for their quirky nature, silly physics, strange story, and over the top gameplay; I’d recommend fans of those games pick up Lucius III. I managed to get it working on my computer, albeit in ‘potato’ mode at 720p due to my ageing GPU, and I had fun with it. However, I agree with the points Nicola made in her review, the series is very niche but fans of the franchise will get the most out of this game.
- - Cheap Price
- - Continues Lucius story, if you are a fan
- - The journal is well designed and easy to use and has fast travel
- - The House of the Rising Sun opening cut scene
- - Good cult references to old movies from the 80/90’s
- - Not a great starting point for newbies to the Lucius series
- - Frame rate issues and non-game breaking bugs
- - Dated graphics and mechanics such as the inventory, clunky controls
- - The voice acting and audio is sub-par
- - Overly ambitious for what was achievable