Monday 31 January 2022

Lacuna Review (Switch)


The Darkside detective has cut itself out a nice little niche in the market with the whole pixel art point and click adventure thing. But others are now stepping into the spotlight to provide lovers of pixelated investigation more options for sleuthing. One of these games is the cyberpunk styled Lacuna.

It may seem Bladerunner inspired to begin with but really, the cyberpunk look of the game is the only thing it maintains throughout with the future city providing amble creative ways to set up crime scenes to investigate.

Much of the game follows the pattern of the player being called on their phone and then jumping on a train which heads to the scene of the crime. Players are then briefed at the entrance to the scene about what has gone down and what they need to look for. Investigations play out by the detective then moving around the scene and speaking to people. As well as this you must look for clues which can be highlighted in a circle for further detail.

Clues and information are fairly easy to find, the challenging part comes when you have to wrap up the various parts of each case. You are given police sheets which contain questions with multiple answers. The clues you find point you towards the correct answer to each bit. For instance – one sheet asks you what colour the hair of a perpetrator is. Some of the sheets really require players to sift information for the finer details and the game only auto saves so once you have decided you are locked into it for the duration of the game.

Choices do affect the story as well. While the game continues regardless of how well or how badly you do. How successfully the investigation progresses is tied into how much you get correct and who you direct the police to in certain situations. While we completely understand the autosave decision as well it would have been nice to at least get the chance to start investigations again from the beginning of the day, rather than having to play the whole game though and start again.

At least twice we missed out on large parts of chapters by leaving the scene without realising it. A few simple notifications such as ‘you will not be able to return to this scene’ would have really helped, as sometimes you can move around the city and other times you can’t without it ending the scene and there is no real way to tell.

The investigations themselves and characters are strong and will keep you interested for the duration of the game. Dialogue is well written and the ‘turning over cards’ nature of the genre is represented well. Locations are also varied and unique which helps mask the fact you are effectively going through the same process with each new case. There is also an overarching plot which runs through each investigation which adds more layers for players to try and unpick and ponder as they progress.

Overall, Lacuna is an enjoyable dive into the realm of Noir tied to a modern point and click interface. The puzzle solving being reduced to submission of report sheets might be a step too far for point and click enthusiasts, but it does keep the narrative moving along nicely. The autosave feature will also be divisive but the game is good enough that players will likely want a second run through once they have become wise to Lacuna’s idiosyncrasies.

 Overall 7/10

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