The following post is this author’s opinion and does not reflect the thoughts and feelings of Fextralife as a whole nor the individual content creators associated with the site. Any link that goes outside of Fextralife are owned by their respective authors.
Dropped into a striking world of nightmares, will you be able to fight your way through? Better yet, will you be able to figure out what is going on? Lucah is a 2D brawler with a striking visual style, but is that art style all the game has or is there a good brawler here? Read on to find out.
Lucah: Born of a Dream
Developed by: melessthanthree
Published by: Syndicate Atomic LLC.
Release date: July 17th, 2017
- Striking colors and evocative linework elicits an impressionistic sense of ambiguity and tension.
- Mix and match over ten different Attack Mantras to create an endless variety of unique combos.
- Befriend Familiars and use their ranged elemental magic to turn the course of battle.
- Personalize your character with Virtues like slow-motion dodges, stunning parries, or vampiric attacks.
- 6-7 hour campaign thick with secrets, branching paths, and alternate play modes.
- A haunting electronic soundscape binds Lucah into a singular experience of self-discovery through struggle.
Story and Setting
This is going to pain me a little to say, but it needs to be said. The story you get in your first play-through is the most obtuse, edgy, edge-lord nonsense that has ever cut it’s way onto my monitor. The reason why that pains me to say, is that I think there’s a really good story here, but after that first play-through I have no desire to find out more. I have rage-quit out of many games in my gaming history. Even Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (which is my personal GOTY so far) caused me to ALT-F4 out several times. This has always been due to bugs, mistakes I make, ridiculous difficulty, and so on. Lucah is the first game that made me rage quit over story.
On your first play-through, this game doesn’t explain a single thing. Not a single thing. You are constantly moving to areas and interacting with character without any context what so ever. At first this was interesting but it rapidly grew aggravating, especially when it was combined with the unrelenting edginess on display. It was a never ending parade of me either rolling my eyes in exasperation or furrowing my brow in confusion. None of this is worthy of a rage-quit though.
The rage-quite came when I started a new game+ which started with the game deciding to give me a massive 5+ minute text dump. By the end of it I didn’t know everything, but at last I had context and it just made me snap. Now? NOW you’re going to give me context, after 5+ hours of utter confusing and exasperation? Heck. No. You should have given me this from the start.
The truly frustrating part of this is from that massive text dump, this seems to be a really interesting world. There does seem to be reason for what the heck is going on. But that initial presentation for me is just so horrible, I can’t bring myself to continue playing to find out more. I’m done, and that is truly sad.
Audio and Visual
All it takes is a single glance at a screenshot, and you can tell this game has a very unique art style. The hand drawn, neon colored scribble art style is quite striking. They also have done a good job of animating the scribbles as well, so everything moves in a pleasing way. For the most part this aesthetic serves the game well, but there were a few areas where this causes problems. It can be difficult to tell what is background vs foreground, and at times I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t interact with. I never really felt that it interfered with combat, though there were a few times where things felt really busy.
The audio in the game also works really well. It’s nothing that’s going to set the gaming world on fire, but it fits the game very well. Never at any point did I want to reach for the volume controls, and there were several points when I would pause for a moment and note the music. The sound effects are good as well. Every action, strike, and hit has a good sound effect that makes the game feel quite responsive.
The mechanics of this game are good, though it relies a little heavily on reaction-parries for my taste. This also contributes to why I have no desire to complete a second play through, as if you can’t parry consistently you are heavily punished. There is something about reacting to a random action in a perfectly timed button-push that just messes with me. For crying out loud I can’t consistently parry Iudex Gundyr, and I’m sure that statement made some of you point and snicker at me.
Make no mistake, I am not accusing the game of having loose controls. In fact, there is one boss that has a very fixed attack pattern, and once I learned that pattern I was able to wreck it with parries. That was the only time though that I managed to do something like that.
There is also a very good variety of combos available here as well. As you explore through the game you’ll find Mantras, or attack styles. You can mix and match these Mantras to form two custom combo sequences you can switch between at well. Combine that with a variety of Virtues, or passives, and familiars for special attacks, and you get a game that lets you create a combat style that suits you perfectly. Close or far, quick or slow, you can really customize your fighting style here. Which is good, because that’s all you really do as this game at its core is a brawler.
There is one thing though that I wish to praise this game for, and praise it loudly. To all developers who make action games – take a look at this game’s option menu, this game does it right. It gives the player complete and absolute control over the difficulty of the game. You want to make the game a little easier? Turn the speed down by 10%. Want to make the game a little harder? Turn the speed up 10%. Or make the enemies hit harder, or hit lighter, or turn on infinite items, heck give yourself infinite life.
It’s your game, enjoy it how you want to and because of this, I was able to enjoy the combat in this game far more than I was able to enjoy combat in Sekiro. A brutal test of frame-perfect precision, or a gentle (and darn confusing) walk-through an interesting world, you decide.
Assuming the nonsense with the story didn’t utterly sour you on the idea of a second play-through, there is definitely lot here that is worth taking a second look at. You can almost look at your first game as a 5 hour-ish tutorial and the reason I say that is there is a corruption mechanic in the game. As you explore it goes up and if you die, it goes up even more. Nothing to stress over in your first game, unless you screw up and leave your game running for three hours which I don’t recommend doing by the way.
On New Game+ however, the corruption meter goes up much, much faster. To counter this, every fight you have is scored. Do well, don’t get hit, get off a bunch of parries, and you’ll get a lot of points which directly translates into corruption reduction. Don’t do well, and you’ll regain very little corruption. This mechanic, combined with an optional, and brutal, dungeon gives this game a lot of staying power past the first play-through.
If all you’re looking for is a decent 2D brawler that gives you a lot of options for tackling enemies, then this game will be a very good buy for you. Between the custom combos, the scoring system, and the hard optional dungeon there is a lot here for $15. If you’re looking for a good story, I have to put a massive caveat emptor warning up. As I said earlier, I think there’s a really good story here, but it’s deeply marred by bad presentation.
I realize that I’m being a bit petulant over the presentation of the story, this is largely because I’m so frustrated over such a botched presentation of what could have been an interesting story. Ignoring that however, there is a good game here. A striking art-style, good music, and a combat system with a level of customization that is rarely seen. If you are interested in 2D brawlers then this is a good game to pickup.
If you enjoyed this review be sure to read next Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night Review and Attack On Titan 2: Final Battle Review – Reclaiming Territory.