Lucius features a plot that will seem very familiar if you’ve seen The Omen: a young boy, who turns out the be the Antichrist, uses his demonic powers to kill those around him to satisfy his father, Lucifer. You play as Lucius, awakening to your heritage on your sixth birthday (obviously) and starting your rampage. As you kill more and more people, a detective named McGuffin (I’m not shitting you) starts to get suspicious and investigates the “accidents” more intently. Sadly, the quality of voice acting and animation is terrible enough to make you want to skip them entirely. Feel free to do so, as they really don’t add anything to the game. The story never goes anywhere interesting and squanders its few potentially intriguing moments.
Gameplay in Lucius is most similar to the Hitman series. You walk around the house, interacting with various objects and household devices, and figure out how to kill your family members and housestaff in grisly ways without arousing suspicion. Each level gives you fairly free reign about the house, allowing you to explore and find helpful items or information that tells you how to perform your next task. As you progress, you also unlock powers like telekinesis and mind control to help you murder more easily. Obviously, you can’t just whip out these powers in view of your family members, which means you often have to find place to hide out-of-sight as you set up a death trap.
I really wanted to like Lucius. It’s a very cool idea that could have potentially made an entertaining and creative game. Unfortunately, just about everything about the gameplay is rough and unclear. Most levels start you off with no idea of what you’re supposed to do or who you are supposed to kill. You can usually follow your map to find a starting point-of-interest, but these points often don’t give you much to go on. I quickly learned that hanging around my target would reveal helpful information; sadly, this information was rarely enough to give me much idea what to do. Some items you need in later levels are nowhere near where you need to use them–finding some of these can take several confusing minutes and a bit of guesswork.
This means that you are forced to explore the rather boring mansion in order to find clues, hidden rooms, and items you may need at some point in the future. There is no way of knowing what you may actually need, and some items that sound useful never play a role in the game’s murders. By the time I was done, I knew the layout of the mansion fairly well, but I still had trouble finding a few of the necessary objects without several hints from the game. While it is kind of neat Lucius forces you to explore and plan your kills, the puzzles were often too strange in their logic for me to figure out naturally.
More problems come into play when you are expected to use your powers, especially with the telekinesis. You can move objects in any direction when you have it held with your mind, but this is frustratingly touchy. This makes it very easy to get the object stuck on a piece of the environment or drop it behind a drawer or bed where you can’t get to it. Your energy meter for using these powers is also shockingly small, requiring some deft work with the not-great controls to pull off certain kills. More than once, I had to restart a section when some object bugged out or the AI decided to get stuck on the environment.
Most disappointing of all is that every kill has exactly ONE way to perform it. Unlike something like Hitman: Blood Money, where you could potentially make a hit in a variety of creative ways, you are locked into a very particular manner of death for each of your victims. While these kills are often creative and bloody, I didn’t feel as much joy as I would have planning out the traps myself. How could you make a game emulating the Hitman series without also emulating its best quality–choice in how you kill?
I was really bummed after I finished Lucius. All throughout the game, I was hoping it would get better and be the game I wanted from such a premise. Sadly, aside from a few bright moments, the whole experience was not something worth seeing. The whole thing is a clunky, head-scratching mess that nearly doubles its length through its failures. Boo to the developers for also failing to capitalize on a potentially cool story, instead relying on lazy tropes to keep the player “motivated.” I still think there is potential in this idea and gameplay (like in Blood Money, for example), but Lucius squanders nearly all of it.
I wouldn’t advise anyone playing all the way through this, unless you want to blow through it with a FAQ. Even still, your time is probably better spent elsewhere.