- Spoiler: show
Most of my feelings about this game I've already talked about, and usually I'd just link to the post. But this time I feel like this post would be lacking context without including the previous one in full, so:
All the way to the final credits the game kept on that tone, where it was more about raw feelings than a cohesive plot. Although there were a few little character moments here and there, it felt like they weren't really supposed to be part of a self-contained story. But I appreciated that. It's sometimes much more effective to communicate a message just by focusing on the emotional experience than presenting a logical sequence of events. It makes sense a lot with a game that is focused so much on the themes of mental experiences too. It's not about saving the world and feeling triumphant, it's about wrestling with your own thoughts in the scary and often nonsensical world inside your head.Finally picked up Lucah: Born of a Dream and so far it's proven to be a pretty compelling experience. It's got a really unique feel to it that I like a lot. It has a sort of uncomfortable and even alienating feel to it, in a way that is clearly intentional though. Like it's trying to create this hostile and abstract world, trying to get you to see things from the perspective of the character you play as. Even though it appears to be set in some approximation of a normal modern town, everything is rendered in dark, low res graphics that have scratchy, messy style to it that makes things hard to make out. I mean, you can usually tell what everything is supposed to be, but it all feels uncanny and even dangerous. And it's all mixed together with more supernatural elements that are clearly meant to be metaphorical symbols, but it's unclear exactly how much of it is supposed to be "real" in the world itself.
All of this seems to be in service of the story, which is definitely very intriguing and covers some really heavy topics, but does it in a pretty abstract way that can be somewhat obtuse and inscrutable at times. But again, that feels like it's meant to be the case as it's part of the themes it's trying to get across. It seems like what it's getting at is the experience of being trans growing up in a repressive religious community, as well as other mental issues that might coincide with that, or be adjacent to it. Like depression, and even suicide. While I can't speak to the trans experience myself, I try to listen to that perspective a lot, and have some of my own experience with other aspects of mental health, so it still resonances on some level. As such it makes sense for the aesthetic style meant to evoke feelings of hostility and darkness. Where there's this sense of creeping dread, and cryptic allusions to guilt eating away at you, or not feeling like your body is your own. Detached from yourself and everything around you.
Honestly it's very hard to put in to words. But that's part of why it's so interesting. And I haven't got far enough to see where this is all heading yet, but I'm definitely keen to find out.
That said, it appears that there is a more concrete plot under there to uncover, but one which you have to piece together yourself from fragments that appear in multiple playthroughs. Very Nier-inspired, and also fitting for the theme of trying to piece yourself together and make sense of your thoughts and feelings. Although honestly I'm not sure I'll go for all of that stuff. While I liked this game, it wasn't so much as to want to immediately go through it all again. And I've been replaying games quite a lot this year too. I feel like moving on to something else.
Also I realise I neglected to mention anything about the gameplay. I'm kind of torn on it. I like the idea of it I suppose, but it doesn't feel like it comes together as tightly as it could. It feels like it's trying to mix together Hyper Light Drifter with a bit of Dark Souls, with the emphasis on the former. So it kind of ends up feeling like a version of HLD where you're held back by a restrictive stamina bar. I didn't really care for that, and it always felt like I never had quite enough stamina to really play the game at the pace it felt it required. Also the enemy design is not the best, in a visual sense anyway. They're all abstract monsters (that often have some kind of religious symbolism involved) in that scratchy, low res style, so they're sometimes really hard to visually read. It's hard to tell when an attack is coming at times, or pick out projectiles against the background. And when a couple of enemies bunch up on top of each other, it becomes an incoherent mess. At least the sound design is good though. Full of sharp cracks that feel powerful, but also very unique to this game. The sound design in general is really good, with lots of eerie off-kilter music that helps sell the mood really well.