Lucius II is, as the name suggests, the second game in which you control a little boy know as Lucius, or more commonly known as; Satan. Yes, that’s right folks. In this little game you are the Devil and it is your job to start the end of the world.
In order for the player to bring around the end of the world, they must traverse a few locations and cause havoc. By locations I mean small areas disguised as places where there’s no backdrop of anything, with very few NPCs even where you’d expect a higher populace to be. And by havoc I mean trespassing with the occasional slice of murder.
The game plays as more of a puzzle solver rather than an action game. Think more on the lines of Hitman, just without competent AI or thought out level design. In order to progress from level to level or to the next objective players will have to steal or kill to get a pair of keys, usually, or to get to other types of supplies.
The game starts with Lucius trying to escape the hospital ward. A pretty cliché start to a game but given the context it works. This level at least works as a slow introduction to the controls and your abilities. The executions players can perform and the visuals actually include blood, which stops later in the game, makes the opening a pretty harrowing start. Alas, from here on you’ll quickly start to realise the game goes downhill pretty fast in terms of, well, every department.
A lot of the passion and style of this mission seems to get stripped back and replaced with bare bone mechanics and uninteresting level design. This becomes very evident later in the game. Lucius is tasked with poisoning a water treatment facility. Sounds quite cool, right? Well, no. The premise is quite nice but the execution of this particular level was as smooth as a crater on Mars. The level itself looked like a project someone did in their spare time, in their underwear. Custom maps in Garry’s Mod have more to do and polish than the majority of levels in this game.
People are Dumb
Over the entire “facility”, Beelzebub probably encounters around 10 people, none of whom care that you, a child, are running around fiddling with things. When things start going wrong, say a body is discovered, then the character who finds it will run around screaming for a bit, then stops, only to start again if they find the body yet again. This is the difficulty of the opponent for the majority of the game; idiots with the self-awareness of a dodo.
While some of the levels are interesting, and encourage you to explore and try new things to achieve the most satisfying kills, the fundamental problem of the entire game is the AI. It is so incompetent, so gaumless to the fact that a literal child is walking around government facilities or that someone has died next to them, that there’s no incentive for the player to even try.
Lucius’ Ultimate Ability: AI
Once I figured that you have to be pretty obnoxious in order to lose the game I just ran everywhere. I tried to steal what I could and kill people in full view of others. While the characters do panic, which seems more like a wave of hysteria on meth, being seen doesn’t prevent you from completing the mission.
The only way to lose is to get caught. While you will get caught in the later levels, this isn’t due to a difficulty curve. The challenge comes down to making the AI ignore you by triggering anything to distract them from you. Why are you allowing a child to run around your facility? Why aren’t people scared that he’s hovering objects above his head, in the USA where there are more extreme believers in Christ than there are Giraffes in the world?
Players get to use a variety of different powers, but truthfully only one is useful; the ability to mind control someone. Even this only needs to be used at arbitrary moments when it’s genuinely the only way to progress. Apart from this the player can burn bodies. There’s just no incentive to as the AI doesn’t care that you exist until the endgame anyway.
Lucius’ other abilities include turning invisible and wiping people’s memories. Yet again, these would be fun to play with if there was any real reason to. Labyrinths in games like the Hitman or Splinter Cell series would benefit from abilities similar to these. At least they have huge complicated levels with worthy advisories. In Lucius II they just feel tacked on, maybe in a hope that people will use these before figuring out that you can just run everywhere.
Theology vs Reality
In theory having all of these powers at your disposal is nifty, but theory is a slippery slope often causing more problems than it solves, ultimately they’re completely redundant. You won’t ever need to burn a body as once someone finds one they panic momentarily then go back to their routine. You won’t ever need to use any power really as you can walk through most of the game without any real interruption because the NPCs just don’t give a damn about you.
Things do get a little harder down the line, though this is usually because the AI decides that traps sometimes won’t kill people like they’re supposed to. Or, they’ll chase the player down knowing exactly where they are because… reasons. So yes, when you can’t kill people, short of using the nail gun to the face, and with the AI being predisposed to automatically chase you I guess that does add a layer of difficulty to the game. But it’s not a difficulty with a learning curve or any pretense of being balanced.
Angelic or Demonic?
So would I recommend this game? Not really, if you want to see the shell of a game which had a good concept then that’s your prerogative but at least wait until it’s on sale. It’s really not worth the standard price, not for the few hours it’ll take to complete and certainly not for any pursuit of depth, on any level. Do yourself a favour, instead of investing time in Lucius II, that you’ll never get back, pick up another game which had a proper team behind it.