The Nintendo DS is suited for all sorts of games and one of those types that is probably underutilized is the interactive novel. It’s not quite a point and click adventure because there really aren’t puzzles to solve, it’s more along the lines of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book where you can decide where to go and what to say, but without all the negative consequences.
Lux-Pain puts you in the role of a young man with psychic powers investigating strange crimes created by a “worm” known as the Silent that seems to infect people and force them to do things out of character. You’ll go undercover and learn all about the subjects as you try and sniff out this worm that has even claimed the lives of your parents. Are you looking for something a little more than your average graphic novel, but in an interactive manga form? Lux-Pain just might be what you desire. Unlike the game, you won’t need psychic powers to uncover them as they merely lie in the paragraphs ahead.
Being a sort of interactive novel, Lux-Pain, is beautifully drawn and the characters look very detailed. However, they are not animated so everything occurs on static screens that take away from the overall interactive experience. There are lots of characters that pop up in the game and all of them have their own look and style. There are also quite a few different locations to investigate, but again the static screens don’t lend much in the way of getting to look around and enjoy the scenery. Enjoy the graphics for what they are, which is to say, a few head shots of good looking Japanese characters that are typical of manga and anime.
Dialog is delivered both in text form as well as spoken, the odd thing is that the two don’t match up. Somewhere, lost in translation, the written portion of the script got separated from the spoken script and a lot of the problems with this game begin there. Audio wise the sound is fairly decent, the voices aren’t the best, but they’re far from the worst. Music is a little on the average side and sound effects are likewise. Basically, the only thing that sounds out is the speech and that’s mostly because it’s so different from what you’re reading on the screen that the game gets a little confusing.
The real issue with Lux-Pain isn’t so much the very dark themes that it touches on; animal cruelty, group suicide pacts, cyberbullying and the like, but it’s the fact that it’s just really hard to follow. You’re trying to investigate these odd crimes, but it’s really hard to follow because making heads or tails of what everyone is telling you is a challenge in itself. The translation is mainly to blame, but there must also be a disconnect somewhere along the way between Japanese culture and Western culture because hours into the game it’s still hard to figure out what exactly is going on.
Stick with the game and the characters will begin to grow on you, unfortunately, gamers are a fickle crowd and instant gratification is the order of the day. In the end if you can’t provide enough drama, action, adventure or otherwise anything for the gamer to latch on to, there’s bound to be a game sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Not to mention the little interaction involved in the game is basically relegated to rubbing the stylus across the screen to uncover a little blob that provides insight to the case. It’s weird, it’s hard to explain, and it’s almost even harder to follow. This is something that you really have to give some time to. Throw it in your DS, turn up the heat slowly and bring it to a slow boil because the game moves at a very slow pace and as mentioned before, patience isn’t exactly something that most gamers are known for.
In the end, the experience isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The pacing, bad translation, and lack of interaction bring Lux-Pain down quite a few notches and pretty much make it one of those very niche titles that a select group of people rave about, but only rave about it when you actually stick through it. Most other gamers will avoid this game and rightfully so due to the many flaws it has, which in the end make the overall experience not as enjoyable as it very well could have been had it been executed properly.
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