Platform: Nintendo DS
It’s not often that I play a game that, without being broken, has few positive things I can say about it. I had no idea what to expect when recently-localized DS title Lux-Pain landed on my desk, but it seemed promising at first. A mystery-solving adventure game with an original story? That should have been right up my alley. Instead, I found myself with a headache of a game that contained barely any gameplay, other than the occasional scratching and tapping of stylus on touch screen. With poor translation and a lackluster narrative, Lux-Pain quickly falls from potential surprise to forgettable mess.
In Lux-Pain, you take the role of Atsuki, a young man who has lost his family and lives in a town plagued by a mysterious disease known as Silent. Silent is causing mass suicides and other destructive behavior, and Atsuki has sworn to protect the city and eradicate Silent by using the ability of Lux-Pain, which is written as “Σ” throughout the game. This gives him a sort of psychic ability that lets Atsuki understand what people are thinking and trace Silent throughout town.
While the story does appear interesting at first, it quickly becomes obvious that it is not nearly as fleshed out as it should be. As a result, the plot and dialogue feels stale and cliché. Instead of actually showing the gamer important events (or letting you experience them through gameplay), much of the narrative is revealed through seemingly never-ending blocks of text. I have nothing against reading, but when I put a game in my DS, I’m looking for something to play. Straining my eyes to read something on a tiny handheld screen is not my idea of a good time, especially when I have lost interest in the story after the first chapter.
Occasionally, you will need to identify traces of Silent, which is done by scratching the bottom screen with your stylus, finding the disease, and poking at it until it reveals a phrase. Atsuki will then be able to identify some of the thoughts in the area, which in turn allows him to follow the trail of the disease. The problem with this, aside from the absolutely mundane action, is that Lux-Pain does all of the problem-solving for you. The player is not really asked to deduce, or even think, but just randomly paw at the touch screen once in a while. There’s really zero challenge, and nothing to keep you playing.
Even if the story was intriguing enough to engage players despite the lack of gameplay, the sloppy translation is a big problem. There are so many grammatical errors, misspellings, and unfinished sentences that just don’t make sense that I really wanted to skip all of the dialogue. Lux-Pain technically works, and there aren’t any game-breaking glitches that I encountered, but there’s nothing like a poor localization to make a game feel unfinished.
Lux-Pain is a game built on some interesting ideas that feel like they were never fully fleshed out, and the result is a half-baked title that most gamers will probably want to abandon after a few minutes. The gameplay is lackluster at best, the story falls flat and is hindered by poorly-translated dialogue, and the entire package is simply not worth your time. I really wanted to like Lux-Pain, but the more I played, the less engaged I found myself. With plenty of solid adventure games on the DS to occupy your time, this one should definitely be avoided.