The best horror stories are self-contained, gory, brutal and give you nowhere to hide, how about we flip the idea on its head, we’ll put you in charge of a great evil; a small six-year-old who is more sinister than he looks, and he’s got a lot brewing up his sleeves for the sixteen inhabitants of his house. The trick is, he's got to be careful that the police, or more importantly the Church do not catch him carrying out his wicked deeds, are you up to the task in Lucius?
As it turns out Lucius’ grandfather made a pact with Lucifer himself long ago that would secure his wealth and success if he gave away the soul of his first grandchild, low and behold years later Lucius is born; the spawn of the devil himself, and on his sixth birthday he finds more than presents awaiting him, mind you he doesn't get too frazzled when he wakes up to find Lucifer in his room.
Things start off fairly simple, and innocent; you’ll be guided through your first kill with a tutorial of sorts as you bump off the unassuming housemaid Mary by locking her in one of the manor’s walk-in freezers, and before you know it you’ll be knocking off the whole manor with all sorts of accidents or downright murders as your dark powers grow with each execution.
In between each murder Lucifer himself will appear every now and again to teach you a new power such as Telekinesis, Mind Control, and Combustion, his big smiling face combined with token flaming walls and crackling is fantastic, however his timing seems off, and you always appear to learn a new skill, but never have reason to use it in the immediate killing, and have to wait a few chapters before you have any use of it, unfortunately for this same reason, some of the powers are hideously underused.
Now there’s a reason that most games have you play as adults, and in Lucius you’ll shortly find the disadvantages of being a 6-year old boy; he can’t reach the top shelves, he’s unable to skulk around after dark, and to keep his parents happy he needs to do his chores! To help keep the immersion of living the life of a child, you must obey by all of these rules, even the beautifully hand drawn map has the hallmarks of a child-like doodle, however the same can not be said for your handy notebook that does not conform to the same endearing nature, and it is most definitely not written like a 6-year-old, no matter how evil he is.
The Notebook is your source of all knowledge, it will track the ‘tasks’ of which inhabitant is next on the chopping block, note down any overheard conversations and keep track of your chores, it’ll be the first point of call for hints on how to enact your next accident, however like the most engaging of adventure games, Lucius rewards you on your powers of observation; for most accidents you can work them out by yourself, you just have to join the dots like a good murder mystery.. just in reverse.
Unfortunately as satisfying as the game is, it has a very linear structure, and there is only one way to achieve every ‘accident’, whilst this may be disappointing for those that expect a fully open-manor affair, as a game Lucius places a higher importance on the story than anything, which works fabulously! Well until you are taken off-guard by the impromptu action-based stealth sections that throw frustrating game over screens at you deep in amongst a game where you can chill out, observe the inhabitants of the manor and take them out when you feel it’s necessary. Just be prepared for the final encounter!
Lucius plays out across chapters, however rather than block off sections of the house required for each chapter, you will have full access to the whole of the beautifully rendered Dante Manor, that, much like any stately home comes complete with laundry room, garage, tea room, library the list just keeps going in this massive hub, and at the start of each chapter the manor is all streamed in, so no dodgy loading screens for the accidental entry of a room that you thought was the one you were looking for.
100% of the game takes place in the Manor, and for this very reason, the establishment is satisfyingly huge, so when you begin the game it is a little difficult to know who everyone is, and it will take you a while to get used to the vast residence with its winding corridors, masses of rooms and multiple floors, and yet, whilst you do not have reason to explore all of the rooms, it all helps you dive into the troubled family life of the opulent Wagner’s, not to mention admire the design of the manor; you won't find one unnecessary counterpart in here!
Now, the only reason that the Hitman series still stands up to its previous games is for the fantastic ‘accidents’ mechanic that has proved so popular, this is exactly why we were originally so intrigued with Lucius, and it’s unique ‘Hitman-esque’ accidental take on the world makes Lucius probably one of the most gruesome, bloody and gory games we’ve played in a long time.
You think we’re exaggerating right? We’ll we’re talking decapitations, impalements, blood, gore, gibs and more, if you aren’t prepared to watch a man get sliced in half by a saw, decapitated by a lawn mower or shot point blank with a gun, then Lucius may not be the game for you, however if you are looking for the perfect game this Halloween, then you have most definitely just found it! Whilst you are not going to get scared of many occurrences in the game, after all you're the bad guy, but this does mean that you start to feel a bit terrible for inflicting such brutal destruction on the innocent and unassuming guests of Dante Manor.
One of the reasons that Lucius was delayed from its original release date was so that developers Shiver Games could improve the cut scenes, story and general polish of the game; what we get as a result, is a very cinematic, and beautiful game, sure some of the voice acting can be a little hammy, a few of the characters are staple cut-outs, and it does feel as though you are watching the Omen play-out, but never before has bringing people to their short and sudden demise been so —dare I say it- satisfying.
It’s sinister, brutal, insanely darkly humoured, and packed full of the atmosphere you would expect of such a dark and twisted tale, the music is brilliantly haunting, and the shadowy lingering hallways become eerie for even the most evil of 6-year-olds, in fact there is so little you can fault with the game!
Lucius is an adventure game at heart, whilst its linearity may scare some away, if you love the satisfaction of pulling off a well-timed puzzle, and are excited that the puzzle is conveyed in the form of a gory accident, then Lucius is one of the most refreshing PC releases for some time.
Lucius is available October 26th for Windows PC in all good store and from most digital distribution sites, if you’re looking for the perfect Halloween game this year, then look no further, Lucius might not have the scares, but it’s got all the blood and gore necessary.