Lucidity Review

By Jeffrey Matulef - Posted Nov 02, 2009

A competent puzzle/platformer in avant-garde clothing, Lucidity is heavy on art style, but fails to handle its material maturely. The core mechanics are equal parts tense and frustrating, and it's good fun for awhile, though it quickly runs out of ideas. However, for the ten-dollar price point, it might be worth a look.

The Pros
  • Amazing art style
  • Frantic pace
  • Interesting storyline...
The Cons
  • ...that's not particularly well told
  • Peters out early
  • Lack of checkpoints is frustrating

A competent puzzle/platformer in avant-garde clothing, Lucidity is heavy on art style, but fails to handle its material maturely.  The core mechanics are equal parts tense and frustrating, and it’s good fun for awhile, though it quickly runs out of ideas.  However, for the ten-dollar price point, it might be worth a look.

Lucidity

Heady Stuff?

With 2D indie games now in vogue thanks to titles such as Braid and Cave Story, LucasArts, the one-time adventure game extraordinaire, aims to create the new art house masterpiece on the block.  With its gorgeous watercolor-inspired art style, Lucidity looks and sounds the part, but doesn’t quite play it.

Lucidity follows the psychological journey of a girl named Sofi as she daydreams through her favorite adventure tales, which quickly turn into nightmares following her grandmother's passing.  It's a thought-provoking idea -- the idea of dealing with loss through an interactive adventure -- and one we don't see enough of these days.

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The Energizer Bunny Ain't Got Nuthin' on Sofi...


The goal of each level is to guide young Sofi across the stage, where she'll come upon a mailbox containing a postcard with a message on it from her Nana.  Sofi walks from left to right automatically, and it's your job to place objects in her path, helping her to bypass certain peril.  Some of these objects include: a staircase, a plank, and bombs that can be used to thwart enemies or alter the environment by blowing holes in walls.  The catch is that you cannot choose which piece to use. They're selected for you at random, with one hold slot in case you want to save a piece for a particularly sticky situation.

It's a unique way of handling a platformer and seems to bridge Tetris and Lemmings.   Because you frequently lay pieces down mere moments before she encounters them, guiding Sofi can be an extremely tense experience.  Thankfully, the controls are largely responsive, minimizing frustration, but with no mid-level checkpoints, you have to play the whole level over again if you fail.  Doubly annoying is that you can't speed Sofi up for those early, easy parts.

Lucidity

Ultimately, what starts out an intriguing idea soon devolves into a rather rote story of a girl coming to terms with her grandmother’s death.  The story is told largely via text and while the level's settings tie in thematically with Sofi's depression and ultimate ascension out of a darker place, there aren’t any new metaphors or game mechanics beyond the first hour or so (out of approximately four).  You'll "get it" pretty early on.

That's the rub with Lucidity.  It all starts out promising enough, but is content to recycle the same ideas throughout its latter three quarters.  There is replay value, since you can unlock new levels by going back through the originals collecting fireflies scattered throughout, but given that you don't have full control of the character, doing so would take an ungodly amount of time.

Lucidity

Beauty is Only Skin Deep…

Ultimately, Lucidity is a pretty good platformer/puzzler with a fantastic art style and a neat idea.  Unfortunately, it lacks complexity both in its mechanics and narrative, which renders it rather forgettable in the long run.  It’s fun to lead Sofi through her dreamscapes at first, but grows frustrating all too soon, and there's not much motivation to repeat the process.  Lucidity is a bit like someone you go out on a few dates with before realizing that they’re sweet, but shallow.  That's Lucidity in a nutshell, lots of promise and little delivery.