Shoot me in the knee if I thought mind readings couldn’t get this serious. In Lux Pain, you’re playing as Atsuki Saijou, an undercover detective for an organization called the Fort. Atsuki has been assigned to Kisaragi City (hilariously located in America) to search for the originator of a mind parasite called Silent, which embeds itself into the shinen of other people and hijacks their minds. Shinen is pretty much what they call memories and/or feelings. You are immediately introduced to Natsuki, the game lolita (who is pleasantly obnoxious this time around) who can sense a person’s “Shinen” in the entire radius of a town. There’s also Nola, your tech-savvy go-to-gal for info and tough, pessimistic Liu Yee.
The gameplay is one giant metaphor for reading a person’s mind, as you erase (also referred to as “scraping”) to get to the “worms” holding shinen you want to access. You have a time limit and a health bar of the individual whose mind you’re reading, but if you erase too much you can destroy their mind. In other words; braindead! You can retrieve Shinen in something called “Erase Mode”, as you access this using a special power you posses called Sigma. Actually, the entire reason Atsuki can read minds is due to a ring he wears called a Lux Pain which grants him the specific power of reading shinen. Other members of the Fort, like Liu Yee and Natsuki, posses these Lux Pain (which are all in the forms of different jewelry, I assume) but have obtained different types of shinen-related powers. One in 10,000 people have the ability to use a Lux Pain and only twelve of them are in existence.
I found myself confused a lot, but luckily you can access the Fort and refer back to clues mentioned. The game leads you through on it’s own–meaning there is no hitting, slashing, hacking or even running. And it will continue even if you miss some shinen. Do the best you can though, as there are multiple endings. I’d be weary of the fact that you cannot save because by the time you can tell you’re about to face a boss, you’re mid-scene and can’t pause to save. The games generally easy though, but that and clues to defeating it would be sort of nice. The only time you can save is when you’re on the town-map and saving is fast so doing it every once in a while would be key.
The game is extremely involved plot-wise and I got attached to the story pretty quickly, even though it took me halfway through the game before I started to care for most of the characters. Honestly, the biggest problem I have with the game is the text. I understand that text-heavy games slip up their spelling every once in a while, but I was sourly disappointed with the constant mistakes. Not just spelling, but entire sentences were sometimes butchered to the point where even I couldn’t read them. I also saw things like “&” being used for “and”, and spaces being forgotten to put in.
Other times it’s difficult to tell whose speaking when there are multiple characters around you. I wish they would’ve just added a bar for names or something. Adding onto all the word talk, there is some pretty full voice acting every once in a while but it drives me nuts that it doesn’t follow the text on screen. Once during a cut scene one of the girls said something completely unrelated to the text. At another point these two characters were referring to a male character as a she, three times in a row.
Alright, enough grammar nazi bantering, there’s another element to the game I feel is somewhat pointless. That being said, there’s a minority of dating-sim elements like picking your expression or choosing a certain answer to something. Other than that, Atsuki himself seems like he has his own personality, he even talks in cut scenes. This doesn’t seem executed that well, as I think it should be either Atsuki having no personality so the player can fill his shoes or have a full out role.
Though, this was a good game regardless and it’s pretty great for playing when you’re bored. There’s a lot going on and while I was playing I really got this feeling like I wanted to finish it. Unfortunately, it’s one of those games where it gets going really fast but stops abruptly, then goes back and forth. So a lot of the time I kept thinking “It’s over now? Did I just beat the game?” when it really wasn’t. It’s very slow in the beginning but it gets more and more fast paced and interesting as you keep going.
I thought the characters were very up to speed on typical slang, but there is that over talk of “Are you okay?” and “Get a lot of rest” which gets extremely frustrating in a game where shit is going on at every moment. But it’s nice to hear the characters threatening each other of giving beat downs every once in a while. Some other moments are pretty emotional and almost disturbing. I grew tired of the music fast and it doesn’t really matter if you miss what the voice actors say.
Even though these types of games are big right now in Japan, it’s really not a game for everyone. It reminds me of the two latest Persona games, if just a little bit. I mean, the battle system’s important but the story is just as much. Said battle system’s unique, the characters are shaped for the most part and the story’s compelling. While I don’t want to cut it down because of less important details I’ll give it a solid 4 out of 5. I think Lux Pain’s great if you want a game with a breath of fresh air but with familiar attributes, so if you’re interested enough I encourage you to get it.
Lux Pain is coming out March 24th exclusively for the Nintendo Ds, from Ignition Entertainment.