Perhaps it’s still too soon to bring it up, but friends of mine have given me a lot of crap over the years for my love of Telltale’s episodic adventures that have been known to lack in actual gameplay. Grevicor’s Lucid Path would make them think twice.
Lucid Path is one of the worst kind of games: it beams with potential but squanders all it has through the execution. As an adventurer, you come across a small town in need of a brave warrior to enter into a dungeon that hides some of the most powerful creatures known to man. You volunteer to traverse the dangerous place and slay the monsters within to save the town from an impending doom. Your mission quickly turns into a race to destroy an important artifact that houses godlike abilities powerful enough to drive its handler mad.
What an idea! Unfortunately, the dull mechanics (and, at times, lack of mechanics altogether) bury any potential for the story under a pile of monotony and boredom. Similar gleams of intrigue also suffer the same fate. Tons of abilities and weapons can make you stronger and more resilient, but you can’t actually use any of them. Instead, you sit back and watch as the character decides when to use it, how to use it, and which creatures to use them on. While the game description includes “turn-based combat,” you never truly take a turn. The game takes all of your turns for you, seemingly in some twisted attempt to eliminate any and all chance of you enjoying yourself. Because of this, I found myself laughing out of what could only be madness when I actually found a bug in the gameplay. So much of the game dedicates itself to making you work to upgrade your character, but it fails to offer any more payoff than, “Oh, you now made it to the next section of the game. Good job! Do it again.” Lucid Path seems to miss that the true value in playing a game comes with the unique destiny it can give you, not just watching for hours on end as someone else gets it.
This “work” required in order to improve your character is both the worst part and majority of the game. While your character supposedly goes off to work, the game tries to convince you that playing five different mini-games will keep you entertained while he’s off working. This creates a huge disconnect between the player and the events of the game. Are you the player? Are you just controlling the player? The game doesn’t seem to know, so neither do you. In this particular instance, the game chooses to have you control the character and attempts to quench your thirst with five games that aren’t the game.
To add a mosquito bite on top of your bee sting, many of the jobs your character completes for the village sound more desirable than any of the mini-games you busy yourself with. “Some huge spider made a nest on top of the tower. Kill it and get rid of its nest.” Wow. Now that sounds like a game! Why didn’t that make its way into the development process? Instead, you have to sit and shoot asteroids, or avoid walls as a little arrow, or jump over rectangles as a daredevil circle. “Gang of hooligans prowl the streets and devastate local infrastructure. Help the guards and stop this precedents.” Man, I’m sure the action and combat just ooze out of that mission. Wish I could’ve been there.
Which brings me to the translation. Did you notice how in the last paragraph “this precedents” doesn’t agree with itself? The entire game is riddled with these grammatical errors. As a writer, I certainly understand the difficulty in absolute perfection, but a line exists between a mistake and a language barrier. I researched Grevicor, and it seems that the person or studio (haven’t been able to decide) hails from Poland originally. If a developer seeks to make their game available for a people speaking a certain language, that language needs to be fluent. If this means they spend some extra cash for a translator, so be it. Weeding your way through incorrect spelling and grammar entirely ruins the emersion of the story, especially when the game relies on text alone to deliver it.
You could say that the story acts as a saving grace of the game, but it just isn’t imaginative enough for that. While the original idea has some interesting forethought, so little emerges that you’re left with a very familiar taste in your mouth. Where has your character come from? Yet another unanswered question. Little to no time was spent on developing a backstory for your character. More backstory presents itself for the world, but it still feels lazy and unoriginal. The writer used a few tools here and there to try and give the cliché of a story some more substance, but, not unlike the rest of the game, it falls totally flat.
Audio and Visual
Fortunately, your eyes don’t suffer along with your brain. The pixel art serves as the sole aspect of Lucid Path with any quality. I can always appreciate the effort put into what has been deemed “limited graphics”. I actually quite enjoy intricate pixel design and animation. I believe this requires so much more artistic abilities than being able to just track some body movements and put an actor’s face on it. Although little of the characters actually develop in any significant way, at least they look nice.
The same can’t be said for the music. The soundtracks of these voiceless indie games can be truly magical (think Undertale or Enter the Gungeon). Definitely not the case here. The sounds and music fit well with the game, but we’ve already discussed the game: a less-than-generic, boring experience that falls short of mediocre.
Now, I did say it has a lot of potential. Well, I started to get engaged just as the game ended. The final boss battle was exactly what I wanted in the rest of the game. I actually fought him. I didn’t sit in my chair and watch a character move around according to an algorithm. It became a true game! Coming out of the battle, you sit there and kind of think to yourself if you just switched games. You dodge axes, defend against projectiles, and you have to strategically attack and defeat your opponent. Parts of it felt straight out of an action-packed game like the before-mentioned Enter the Gungeon. So much could’ve been done with this, but too much time was spent on finding different potential mini-games for you to waste your time on.
I have to pay my respects because truly beautiful pixel art requires so much more time and talent to perfect than most people would acknowledge, so whenever I see games like Lucid Path, I always try to look at them immediately with high hopes. Parts of the game at the end even spurred my original hope. However, if all of the time that was put into the development of the game was spent on just the design, we would have a magnificent piece of desktop wallpaper that would be more interesting than the game itself.
This review of Lucid Path is based on the PC version of the game. A review copy was provided.
Lucid Path takes impressively detailed pixel art and kills it with an uninspiring story and awfully boring mechanics and mini-games. The biggest downfall is the disgusting lack of exciting gameplay.
Brandon is a young writer who loves going deep into games to explore meaning, purpose, and life. He believes that there’s nothing better than getting lost in a world full of characters to love and lessons to learn. He has a special place in his heart for single player games such as Mass Effect and Life Is Strange, but he also blows off some steam playing some of his favorite multiplayer games, like Paladins.