First posted on 26 October 2012. Last updated on 15 May 2014.
On the 6th of June, 1966, a boy was born. His name is Lucius. On his sixth birthday, he discovered that he is the son of the devil. Playing as Lucius, you are tasked by your father Lucifer to reap the souls of the livings around you, without raising suspicion that you are the evil doer behind the murders.
Lucius grows up in a life of luxury. He lives in a large manor, with lots of rooms and many servants. He even has his own private teacher. To an outsider, however, his upbringing is far from being happy: one by one his family living with him in the manor and the servants working there dies in seemingly unfortunate and unlikely accidents. A few commits suicide, and some are murdered. Obviously, the police are unable to determine who is behind the atrocities. After all, who suspects a little kid to commit these crimes?
An impressive introductory cinematic shows the events leading up to the birth of Lucius. The story then skips forward in time, when you take control of Lucius on his first kill. In this tutorial, the game explains the basic interface and guides you in offing your first victim. After waiting for the maid to go inside the freezer room, you shut the door and lock it with a padlock. You then adjust the thermostat to lower the temperature inside the freezer. Once the maid is dead, you remove the padlock to make the death look like an accident. Indeed, the police conclude that she has simply fainted in the freezer and has been frozen to death.
The game is divided into several chapters, with each chapter roughly focusing on each victim. The game is narrated by a detective named McGuffin, who has been tasked to investigate the deaths. Between each murder, a cut scene shows the detective looking back on the case. This is set sometime in the future when he finally learns the truth and is now reflecting back on the events that have transpired. The story skips once more a few weeks or months ahead, when Lucius is again plotting his next victim's death. Sometimes, Lucifer appears in front of Lucius to praise him for his deeds or grant him new supernatural powers, such as telekinesis or mind control, to help him with his evil mischief.
With the exception of the opening cinematic that is pre-rendered, all cut scenes are rendered with in-game graphics as machinima. Often, a scene slows down during a particularly gruesome murder to show off a dramatic moment. The music in these cut scenes is impressive. By contrast, the background music that is played elsewhere in the game gets tiresome after a short while. The story pays homage to many classic horror films, including The Omen, The Exorcist, and The Shining.
The 3D graphics are mostly impressive. However, even on the highest settings, some of the rendered objects seem unpolished, and surface textures are of low quality. The quality of the graphics does not seem to fall too much with lower settings, though the performance gain in return is noticeable. All of the characters are rendered to be realistic looking.
The game is controlled from a third-person perspective using a combination of mouse and keyboard. Since the titular character is a small boy, the world is seen from a low angle looking slightly upward. Consequently, certain placed objects can sometimes be out of reach. The cursor changes whenever it is hovered over a hotspot. If a hotspot is out of reach, an eye shaped icon is shown. If a hotspot is close enough to be interacted with, an action icon appears instead. Clicking on an interactive hotspot automatically triggers the necessary action, such as picking up an object, opening a drawer, or turning on a device.
Lucius is a silent protagonist, in that he never utters a word. His verbal silence brings a lot of mystery to the character. You only see glimpses of his thoughts by reading what he writes down in his journal. In this journal, every victim has a different tab, from where you can get hints on how to make the kill. Some of the characters are morally corrupted, so it is understandable that Lucius does not like them. Nevertheless, Lucius does not stop with these victims. He wants to get rid of everybody in the manor to please Lucifer. Several of his other victims actually seem to be very fond of Lucius and treat him quite well. Alas, the devil shows no mercy!
The entire game takes place inside and around the huge manor. A map can be accessed to assist with the navigation. In some chapters, some of the rooms are initially locked. It takes time to learn the whole layout of the manor, partly because of its similar looking halls, corridors, and rooms.
Since Lucius is possessed by the devil, his supernatural powers can be weakened by a cross. Most crosses can be turned upside down to remove their effect. There is a power bar that is drained very quickly whenever Lucius uses his abilities. The power bar also drains when he stands next to a cross but refills quickly when he is otherwise idle. It is important to not get caught when using these abilities. The game is over if another character sees Lucius wielding a power or carrying a dangerous object, after which you must resume from the beginning of the current chapter. There are a few stealth sequences, for example, at night when all adults expect Lucius to be in bed.
Oddly, Lucius can also engage in optional chores, such as cleaning his room, taking out the trash, and even sorting dirty laundry. When you complete enough of these chores, you are rewarded with small gifts. Some of these gifts can give you hints on how to make your next kill. It can be time consuming to complete some of these mundane tasks. Thus, you may only want to do them if you are otherwise stuck or if you are concurrently searching for actual clues.
While the game starts off rather easy, I soon find it to be very difficult. I also miss the lack of alternative solutions to some of the puzzles. For example, at a certain point, I need to bring water to a particular location. The only hint I am given is that the container cannot be suspiciously looking. After trying all other different containers such as a glass, a mug, a vase, and even a whiskey bottle, I finally discover that another bottle is able to carry the water. At times, the lack of an in-game hint system can be frustrating.
Not all of the objects found around the manor are important. Some objects, such as books, glasses, bottles, laundry, can be picked up but otherwise serve no useful purpose. Lucius can carry them around but will drop them whenever he tries to use them. This gives an indication on whether an object is important or not. Still, some of these objects may be used to complete chores.
With each chapter, new objects can appear, and characters can move to different locations. Some objects can be picked up in an earlier chapter for use in a later chapter. Even though you are able to freely explore the manor, the game feels very linear. Each victim must be killed in a particular order and only in a particular way Lucius decides best.
A major drawback to the game is the lack of a manual save feature. The game automatically saves whenever a new chapter is begun. There is no way to save partial progress made in a chapter before quitting.
Despite the horror premise, the game is actually not that scary. Even so, the game is not suitable for younger gamers, as some of the animated death scenes can be quite terrifying. There are also scenes of sex and nudity in the game.
Lucius is an adventure game with a horror theme that is squarely targeted at an adult game audience. The game features some impressive cinematics but is also marred by flawed gameplay. The premise of the game is admittedly bizarre: after all, you play as a child who is tasked to commit some gruesome murders in the name of the devil. Are you up to be the evil spawn and bring hell back to earth?