Text based adventure games are nothing new. Before the sprite there was the character and pc gaming’s first games were born, no more advanced than a ‘Fighting Fantasy’ book these basic games relied heavily on good narrative and descriptive writing in order to draw the user in. Gaming has since moved on with more advanced hardware and changing tastes. The Nintendo DS over the past years has managed to almost single handily rejuvenate some genres once thought dead and gone. Lux-Pain is a Text based Graphic Novel but has Killaware succeeded in being able to draw a gamer into this games world? Read on and find out.
The somewhat idyllic Kisaragi city has a secret, on the surface everything looks calm though a few mysterious deaths attract the attention of FORT, an organisation of sorts that deal with the paranormal. You take the role of Atsuki Saijo an agent of FORT. Astuki is a young, mild mannered man with a special ability, using a power called Sigma he can look into people’s souls and uncover their motives or even release them of their burdens.
The game follows the logic that everyone has a ‘Shinin,’ which from what I can tell is almost like your Soul. When a person feels pain or despair a Silent can be born from it, or a person can contract a Silent from another infected person. The Silent is a worm like creature which draws its victim into a deep depressive state ultimately forcing the person to commit suicide or kill someone. Atsuki’s ability allows him to tap into the spiritual world and see a persons Shinin, he can also exorcise Silent.
To avoid suspicion Atsuki is enrolled into a local high school where he meets the rest of the games protagonists. The actual characterisation of the other characters is poor, though each appear to have their own very distinct personalities the way in which their mannerisms are portrayed in text form is extremely inconsistent, a good example is the character Yayoi, for the most part she is a polite and well mannered girl but in once instance she began speaking in broken slang for no apparent reason.
And that brings me head on into the localisation of the game, before I begin to talk about the gameplay mechanics I’d like to get this out of the way. The localisation stinks, not for a long time have we seen such gleaming errors in both spelling an grammer, simple words like ‘what’ are frequently misspelt along with characters names and a plethora of random words. For me the straw that broke the camels back was the use of ‘a lot,’ the fact they spelt it as ‘alot’ tells me that the people localising this game did not proof read and the quality controllers obviously weren’t doing their jobs right. Some lines don’t even make sense. If you can look past all that you’ll find the 20 hour experience well worth the time.
Most of the gameplay takes place on the bottom screen as you’ll spend the majority of your time talking to other people and tapping through reams of text, like with the ‘Ace Attorney’ games portraits of the people you talk to will appear as they speak, you can have two portraits on screen at once if you’re having a three way conversation and every now and again you’ll be asked to express an emotional opinion, these opinions are rather pointless as it’s pretty much a guess as to whether you’ll get it right and in no way does it affect the actual story or events that transpire in it.
The top screen is interesting, it shows a shadowy version of the portrait of the character below, if the character has an emotional reaction then a wave of colour blows over the shadowy portrait. The only use I noticed was it offers an early indication if someone is infected with Silent, or if you incorrectly answer a question and it upsets the character.
Here is the scene, you’ve cornered someone you think maybe infected with silent. The normal procedure is to probe their Shinin using your Sigma. To probe their Shinin you have two tools at your disposal, search and erase, to search you tap various areas around the character portrait and a coloured indicator will tell you if you’re close, once you think you’ve found one then you select the erase function and scribble out the area you identified. To erase the worm you have to keep your stylus pressed on it until it explodes, this gets difficult later on as the worms will try and move into the areas you haven’t scribbled away. Once you’ve erased all worms you’ll be presented with another screen, this is where you imprint the Shinin and learn whatever information you can, the information is presented in a string of broken sentences that appear on the top screen and can be quite telling as it’ll always show a characters true intentions. I found this mechanic in particular to be most intriguing especially when you are forced to perform Sigma on a dead man and you get to see his final thoughts before he died.