Lucah: Born of a Dream
Lucah: Born of a Dream
Dreams? More like nightmares
Every RPG I’ve ever played I’ve enjoyed it. Recently I’ve come to prefer action RPG’s way more than their turn-based counterparts, but finding one that keeps me interested is becoming more and more difficult. Often times, either the combat is underwhelming or character customization is overly complicated for what the game actually offers. However, Lucah: Born of a Dream kept surprising me during my entire playthrough. It’s an extremely well-executed action RPG that hooked me until the very end, and then some. Everything I look for in a game is present: great themes, weighty combat and tons of replayability. melessthanthree (the developers) have done a wonderful job with what can only be described as a pure passion project. The music, visuals, and gameplay mechanics consistently work in tandem with each other and I was left with an incredible experience that left me wanting more.
Lucah: Born of a Dream is incredibly cryptic. At no point in the story did I know what was going on. Normally, this ruins a story for me, but for a game about facing your worst nightmares, I really liked it. Much of the narrative felt as if it was missing, similar to remembering a dream. It’s a brilliant design choice and one that feels as if it intentional. After completing the game once, an option for a new game+ becomes available. It’s the same game, but with a much more focused and tight narrative. The story turned out to be much different than I thought, but has a lot of high points and is absolutely worth the additional playthrough.
Horror done right
The graphics and visuals are what stood out the most for me. The title art leaves a deeply differing impression than what I thought Lucah was original. Moments upon starting a new game I realized that the horror elements run much deeper than I thought they would. The background is almost completely back save for objects in the world, which are white. It’s minimalistic, but it creates a feeling of unease and was quite jarring for the first few hours; in a good way. Cutscenes fell flat a lot of the time, with cryptic images being a complete guessing game. Enlarged pixel art does not work and as such, many of the images that were intended to be unnerving end up looking like a bunch of scribbles. These images only happened a handful of times and it’s one of my only criticisms.
Combat wise, much of the game felt like a lite version of Dark Souls. Enemies hit incredibly hard and running out of stamina can quickly result in a game over. It’s a lite version because most enemies aren’t that tough once you get the hang of things. What makes the combat so great is the weight put behind every strike. Killing blows happen in slow motion and getting hit results in screen “glitching”. It’s little details like these that leave a deep impression in my head. Early bosses are seemingly optional when it comes to victory and seem to be intended for the new game+.
What’s an RPG without customization?
Character customization isn’t that deep, but for a game like Lucah, it doesn’t have to be. A choice of four random stats are presented with each level up and can include stat boosts of something called techs. Techs give the player new abilities such as life steal or bullet time if you’re about to be hit. If these weren’t enough, there are a few options to make the game much easier. Whether it’s infinite life or an increase in attack power, these options break the game and take all the enjoyment out of the combat.
Mantras are like your equipment and enable different attack variations, like a heavier strike or an increased range. These can be picked up throughout your adventure. Familiars are almost the same as Mantras but enable ranged projectiles to spice combat up. In addition to changing your attacks up, they change the colour of your character. The use of colour to make the player stand out in the world is brilliant. At no point did I ever feel lost, but that being said, the map can be a bit confusing to read. Instead of the layout having everything in close proximity, areas aren’t shown as connected on the map.
Lucah: Born of a Dream is one of the better games I’ve played recently. It left such an impression that I’m currently on my third playthrough and still loving it. The combat never gets old so long as you’re trying out different mantras, techs, and familiars, and the story actually makes sense on subsequent playthroughs. The game isn’t long by any means and can be completed in a few hours, but the replayability that it offers makes it absolutely worth it. While the horror aspect is definitely a focus, there are no jump scares and much of the fear comes from how creative the visual style is. I cannot recommend this game enough, it’s just that good.
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Reviewed by Taylor Ivings on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Kevin Wong.