Lux Pain is one of those games with a hollowed out and rotten trunk that has some fairly interesting aspects branch off. Unfortunately, it’s not bugs and execution that bog Lux Pain down; it is the simple fact that Lux should have not been a game; it should have been an anime or manga.
Lux Pain combines several features from other genres and throws them together and the end result is a confusing mess. The plot starts out as one of the most confusing hours of gaming I’ve ever experienced. I then went ahead and read the manual for clarification and things became slightly clearer. This really brings back the long-forgotten necessity of reading the manual before you play.
As near as I can tell, you are Atsuki, a member of FORT, whose mission is to eliminate Silent. Silent are worm-like creatures created from the despair and anger of individuals. When a Silent gets too big, it causes the host to kill itself or others. Atsuki’s family was killed by one of the original hosts of Silent which prompted him to join FORT and have his arm modified which turned himself into a psychic of sorts that can see into the minds and souls of people and pull out these Silent before they become too large.
Recently, there have been a large amount of Silent-related murders and evidence shows that the original Silent-infested person is involved. Due to the death of his parents Atsuki takes a large personal interest in the matter. It seems this ‘original’ is involved with Kisigari High School. Doing the only logical thing, FORT decides to enroll Atsuki in Kisigari High.
The overall plot and gameplay are a ridiculous mess. If you don’t understand what I just explained don’t feel bad, I’m not sure I do either. As I said earlier there is further information in the instruction book and an even bigger library of information in the game stored at FORT’S headquarters that is always available for viewing. I’m a very large fan of RPGs and reading text to advance a story is not a foreign concept to me by ANY stretch of the imagination but this is a bit much. If I can’t pop in a game and know what the hell is going on within an hour then there are problems.
Being an elite FORT agent, Atsuki never had a chance to experience high school and the relationships that ensue. This is where the Japanese dating simulation portion comes into play. Like most dating sims, you go around talking to people which makes them like you more and when they like you enough you are given a special dialogue option, choose the correct one and then you are considered dating. Hurray.
The majority of this game is listening/reading to dialogue and when prompted you go into “sigma mode”. Sigma mode is where you are given a background picture and then scratch the DS screen with your stylus to reveal the hidden Silent. After revealing the worm you hold your stylus over it for a few seconds and this captures the Silent. Once captured, you are given an insight to the inner feelings of the thing you extracted it from. This insight helps you solve the mystery as to who houses the mysterious original Silent. To break the monotony of reading there are occasional videos to help with the progression of the story, these are definitely too spread apart as the majority of this game is easily hitting the A button on your DS when a text box is full and is ready to go to the next one.
The boss battles are hardly battles. The top screen gives a very big Silent, and the bottom screen has what look to be flowers. When they get big and turn white you either tap on them or slash them, this hurts the boss. Repeat until the boss is defeated. With all the frustrating tapping, slashing and scratching Lux Pain threw at me; I actually managed to permanently scratch my screen.
The graphics are the typical anime fare. Included with the game is an art book that showcases art from the game. I’m not an artist…at all. It all looks just like anime I have seen before. If this is something up your alley, you will surely enjoy it more than I.
I must reiterate that there is NO gameplay here besides scratching people’s faces and boss “battles”. The rest of Lux Pain is you choosing where to go, and read whatever dialogue from the people that happen to be there. This isn’t a game, it’s an interactive novel. To be fair, I must confess I liked the characters of Kisigari High. A decent amount of effort went into making these students have realistic problems. The characters are constantly dealing with mature issues such as emotional depression, the loss of their parents, being abused and dealing with the stress of a full time job while attending high school. Sure, it seems odd that everyone in the group has all of these problems but the subject matter is still a much more mature palette than most games offer.
There are several issues with the translation over to English. There are times where it feels genuine and there are other times where it is just plain ‘Engrish’. That being said the voice work for the game is incredibly good. The voices are fluid and fit the characters’ personality very well. Unfortunately, with the voices being as good as they are they just highlights how odd the translation really is. The voice and text on almost every occasion fail to match up. Granted, the idea is basically the same; but it still leaves one to scratch their head in confusion. For example a character may vocally say, “I’m going to go to the movies after school.” The text for this would be along the lines of, “After class, let’s go to cinema!”
One other thing I feel I have to mention is that while this game takes place in Japan, there is an odd Chinese woman that dresses like a cosplay character and speaks in broken English, it seems racist and it is unintentionally hilarious: “What you mean you no know China history? I no like you anymore!” I wish I were making that up, but that is a near direct quote.
Lux Pain isn’t a game and whatever it is, it isn’t very enjoyable. The voice acting is the best thing it has going for it but that can only take the game so far. The plot is in total disarray, a horrible presentation and translation; there is just no real reason to get this unless you are a huge fan of anime, graphic novel-esque adventures, or you enjoy seeing somewhat racist stereotypes.