Lucius – E3 Preview

I wasn’t exactly your normal child growing up.  While all the neighbourhood kids bounced around outside with their Pogo Sticks and Lolo Balls, or waged war on each other with Action Men or Action Force figures, I was usually reading about the paranormal or watching top shelf horror movies whenever my parents weren’t paying attention.  It paid to have a friend whose parents owned the local video shop, and our top loading Ferguson Videostar saw more gore in a couple of years than Ed Gein did in a lifetime.

The most fascinating of all horror movie protagonists, for me, was always Damien Thorne – the child born of the jackal at 6am on June 6th, 1971 who then grew into his role as the Antichrist.  With no brute strength to help him, no henchmen at his beck and call and no ability to shoot laser beams from his eyes, his only weapons were cunning and guile… okay, and a mind melting stare.

Lucius, the first title from Helsinki based developers Shiver Games, borrows heavily from the premise of the Omen movies but that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, when I first laid eyes on the game back in January, I was immediately smitten.  It was a ridiculously early build, and the code has progressed incredibly since then, but I was hooked from the first few seconds of gameplay and continue to fall a little bit more in love with it as each new build is unveiled.

On the eve of his sixth birthday, Lucius is visited by none other than Lucifer, who explains that Lucius’ grandfather had offered the soul of his first grandchild in return for his own political power. Lucifer is now returning to collect on the deal by commanding that Lucius exploit their wealth and power in order to rise to his own position of strength from where he can bring darkness upon the world.  In order to do this, however, Lucius must first orchestrate the deaths of those around him without attracting any attention to himself or raising any suspicion, and in such a way that their fates appear to be accidental.

Taking a unique blend of attributes from both the stealth and puzzle genres, Lucius has you take on the role of the ‘devil child’ and strategically ensure that each of the marks on your list meet with “a little accident” as discreetly as possible.  Being only a few feet tall and weighing no more than a dismembered adult torso, you don’t have the luxury of force when it comes to having a chamber maid fall to her death from one of the higher balconies.  Instead, without giving away too much of the plotline, the best way to deal with this one particular death is to use a Polaroid camera to take a photo of a member of the family, for whom she has already fallen, cavorting with another woman, then plant the photo in the drawer of the ill-fated maid to drive her to a jealous suicide.

It is this stealthy approach to the deaths that has leanings towards the Hitman style of gameplay, albeit without the straightforward “gun to the back of the head” tactics.  The unfortunate side to this is that each of the victims, of which there are twenty, have to be taken out in a specific manner so there’s no room for experimenting or being flamboyant – if you’re tasked with locking the kitchen maid in the walk-in refrigerator, then that’s what you must do in order to carry out the kill.  Personally speaking, I would have preferred a little more leeway with the killings but I’m sure that there will be enough variety throughout the twenty victims on the list.

There is, however, some saving grace with the methods required to perform the kill as you’re not necessarily told by Lucifer how each of the victims should be killed; you must instead follow a series of clues and piece them together to discover the correct way to carry out each specific kill based on the target and what makes them tick.  So, while you don’t have the freedom to throw someone into a furnace or have them hang from a tree in the grounds if the game doesn’t want you to, it’s still not a case of being handed the necessary tools to perform the task.  There is still an element of discovery to everything.

As the game progresses so too do your new found powers, and no self respecting devil child could possibly survive without the traditional dark power of mind control.  The traditional point and click genre comes in to play here as selecting a character on screen immediately uses them as your subject and selecting another object around them has them perform whatever task you set out for them, using that particular object.  With the premise of the game being that of stealth, any subjects will remember nothing once your mind control wears off.

You also have the power of telekinesis at hand, allowing you to control most objects using no more than thought.  Anyone who happens to see Lucius controlling an object using telekinesis will immediately go in to panic mode and become a liability that must be dealt with by erasing their memory of the incident.  The memory erase skill only works within a certain time frame, and so you must act quickly or lose your opportunity and, as a result, fall under suspicion.

Harking back to the tradition of the much celebrated horror movies of old, and ignoring the schlock horror tactic of throwing as much gore as possible in the most distasteful manner, Lucius does well to convey the macabre without resorting to close ups of bludgeonings or dismemberment.  This may have been a conscious decision to remove a six year old child from any scenario featuring murder, in a bid to appear more politically correct, however I’d like to think that it was just respect for the horror movie genre, and it works well with Lucius.

The ambience is, at times, remarkably unsettling and lighting certainly sets the sinister tone more than any other aspect, with long shadows creeping down the eerie halls of the mansion where Lucius and his family live, and a day/night cycle to bring even more atmosphere to the proceedings from time to time.  The mansion itself, whilst obviously being self-contained, still makes for an impressive playground when coupled with the sprawling grounds and the recent addition of the mini-map helps with navigating what could end up being a nightmare maze of corridors and palatial rooms.

While the graphics are by no means close to those of Crysis, they are still more than respectable for a game of this ilk, especially when you consider that the Finnish developer, Shiver Games, is barely a year old.  It’s also important to remember that, regardless of anything else, this is still ultimately a point and click still game but set in a full E3 environment and it bridges the genre gap well.  If the game progresses as much as it has over the last six months, then I fully expect it to take a lot of people by surprise.

Lucius is being published by Lace Mamba and is slated for a Q4 2011 release.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Edward Edward says:

    I want this game so much. It sounds like a near-perfect blend of point and click and stealth, and I can’t wait to hear more about it or play it. It should be nothing short of fantastic, and if that’s what they’ve been able to achieve after such a short amount of time, Lucius should be something massive.

  2. Tania Tania says:

    I’ll definitely be giving this one a shot, looks like evil fun! ;)

  3. Samuel Samuel says:

    Something about this is just deliciously malignant. It’s like someone decided to make a Hitman point and click game but with a child instead of a massive bald assassin. I have to say I’m intrigued. And those screenshots look stunning.

    Doesn’t hurt that I’ve really come to respect Lace Mamba’s selection process for titles they’ve published the last year or so either. I’ve yet to play a game they’ve handled that was a duffer.

    Looking very good. Nice one dood.

  4. Chris Toffer says:

    Didn’t know anything about this till just now. Sounds like a very good premise. I’m sure it will be one added to the list for political parties that want to rant about the “evil” in games. But to be fair as there already films existing on this very subject, their arguments are null and void. (Much like everything else they say)

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