Monday, 10 August 2009

Review: Lux-Pain

You can't spell Lux-Pain without 'Pain'.

Title: Lux-Pain
Developer: Killaware
Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment (JP), Ignition Entertainment (NA), Rising Star Games (PAL)
Year: 2008 (JP), 2009 (NA/PAL)

Visual novels are proving to be a popular sub-genre of adventure game, and given the nature of the DS, several of them have either made their first appearance to the world or are ports of previous games.

One of these games is Lux-Pain, the story being about a teenager named Atsuki Saijo who is an undercover agent for FORT, a government organisation that works towards eliminating the threat known as 'Silent'. 'Silent', a worm born through hate and sadness, has infected Kisaragi City, where Atsuki is sent to find the root cause and to eliminate it.

To do so, you must use the Lux-Pain, a kind of psychic-scraping device, to read people's minds and thoughts and to eliminate worms that are the result of any negative emotions NPCs might have. However, there is a time limit as well as a sort of health bar for the minds of whoever you decide to scrape - if either of these empty, you ruin the person's mind, and it's game over for you.

It's simple gameplay, but the process of 'Go to area - Find person - Read mind - Erase thoughts - Repeat' gets dull very quickly. It certainly does not help that Lux-Pain has a godawful localisation which can often leave you scratching your head and wonder what the hell is going on.

It's this localisation that hinders the game's messages, such as those of suicide, animal cruelty and dealing with loneliness. Add to the fact that a vast majority of the characters are mind-numbingly boring and/or horribly annoying and you'll find yourself not really caring and wanting to breeze through the game as quickly as possible.

Admittedly there is a lot of cool attention to detail, such as being able to have your fortune told by a whacky Chinese lady or checking a message board that updates according to what you have learned from your conversations with your peers. But again, with every message being chock-full of grammatical errors, it's often hard to decipher what's really going on.

The problem with this game is that in the genre of visual novels, a strong storyline and a cast of characters the player must be able to sympathise with, relate to, or just generally like, is very important. Perhaps Lux-Pain would have been so much more different and enjoyable if a better job had been done with the localisation, but we have to make do with what we're given.

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