Sofi is a big dreamer. A little girl staying at her Nana’s house, she loves to play pretend and explore her imagination. But her waking world of wonders is nothing compared to the adventures she has in her dreams! Join the team behind this year’s critically-acclaimed Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition as they attempt to guide a little girl through her dreams in the puzzle platformer Lucidity.
Lucidity is a 2D puzzle platformer not unlike Lemmings or Scribble. You’ll need to guide Sofi safely to the end of each level, but you’ll never do so by controlling Sofi directly. Instead you’ll place a number of objects around her dream world to help safely guide her to her Nana’s mailbox. Sofi, like many children, just doesn’t seem to give enough thought to the perils and pitfalls that surround her journey. It’s up to you to use a variety of objects to make sure she doesn’t fall in a briar patch or walk into a mean old frog.
The objects you’ll place start out fairly simple – a wooden plank, a set of stairs – that sort of thing. As the game progresses new objects are introduced at a steady pace. Fans can blow Sofi up to the platforms above her. Slingshots can shoot her across great chasms. The list goes on and on. You never have a choice in which object you’ll place next. Each piece is given to you at random. The trick is figuring out how to best use the piece at hand to keep Sofi safe before she steps off that next cliff or gets trapped behind a wall.
The gameplay is as simple and fun as it sounds, but it does run into a few small snags along the way that really hamper the experience. Sofi is always moving from left to right, which means the screen is always scrolling. With the screen always scrolling, it can sometimes be hard to line up the objects exactly where you think they should go. The game moves at a good pace, as well, which can lead to a bit of a sense of panic when trying to get objects placed in time to safe Sofi which in turn can also lead to poor object placement. All in all, it was just too difficult to put the pieces exactly where you wanted to every time.
In terms of controls, you can do everything you’ll need to in the game using only the mouse. You’ll note we said "can" and not necessarily "should." In our experience, a good deal of difficulty was added to the experience when trying to place objects with the mouse. We did a good deal of tweaking with the mouse sensitivity in the options and could never really get it to feel just right. Eventually we gave up and switched to keyboard controls, which offered us a vastly improved sense of control. Despite this, our earlier complaints about object placement and game speed couldn’t be solved by simply switching to keyboard controls.
Forgetting the gameplay for a moment, Lucidity is a hard game to forget. Unlike a lot of titles on the market, Lucidity is dripping with style. The visual presentation captures a childlike innocence while still offering up an incredible sense of atmosphere and otherworldliness. Characters feels like dolls. Environments feel like spooky story books. The soundtrack fills the audioscape with a sombre sense of wonder. In terms of artistic presentation, Lucidity could win awards.
But a good video game should be equal parts spellbinding presentation and superb gameplay, and in terms of gameplay Lucidity falls short. If the pace weren’t so frantic, gameplay would quickly get boring. New objects may help to keep things fresh, but at the end of the day you’re really just repeating the same actions over and over again. What’s worse, those actions don’t always work the way you want them too. It’s a valiant effort on the part of LucasArts, and we’re delighted to see them stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying new things, but Lucidity is more flash than substance and fails to hold our interest as a result.