Blue Lacuna is a hugely rewarding experience, especially for fans of interactive fiction.
“A game about words and emotions, not guns.” This is the basis for Blue Lacuna, an interactive piece of fiction that harks back to the days of command prompt story telling, while introducing its own unique ideas and methods for driving the action powerfully forward. There are no pictures or images to help you envision the story in your head – you’re presented with a stream of text, and it’s up to you to set the scene for yourself.
Those looking for a more visual novel will most likely find Blue Lacuna a little too text-heavy, but anyone willing to look past the simplistic interface will easily be able to lose themselves in the twisting, memorable story. The good news is that you’ll know instantly whether this is going to be a journey made for you.
Blue Lacuna tells the story of a Wayfarer and his or her Call. You control where they go, whom they talk to and what they see, although pulling away from the Call is far more difficult than simply obeying its whim. The entire game is played by typing commands into a prompt at the bottom of the screen.
You’re presented with a white screen filled with text, and as each scenario is displayed, you must push the story forward via the highlighted words. Words in blue show objects that can be examined, while green words are actions or decisions. Moving the story on usually involves checking around the current room, then acting accordingly.
The level of interaction can be completely altered depending on the type of player you are. If you are the curious type and like examining everything available, the game can be put into Puzzle mode, where challenges will be a-plenty and you’ll need to solve a multitude of problems. Story mode is also available for those who are more interested in following the tale and skipping the difficult bits.
However, it doesn’t matter which route you take – you’ll still be able to experience the same story, and indeed alter the course of events as you see fit. For example, in the first chapter you are given the option to stay with your lover, or leave them – both directions completely change proceedings, giving you a different route to follow. The idea that you can play through multiple times and find plenty of variety is wonderful.
While the story is great to follow, the interface itself is far too bland. This may be an interactive novel and therefore require only text, but the way in which the text is presented can make it difficult to follow. Whenever you enter a command, the next block of text will then instantly push the previous story up the screen, and you’ll need to scroll your eyes through the reams before finding where you were up to. The game could really do with a coloured emphasis line to indicate the start of the latest text.
The main issue is that it all looks far too plain. This may sound odd when you consider than you are technically reading a book, but we found ourselves drifting off whenever the story became very text-heavy, with reams of text to work through. A few more indentations and more variety in presentation would have been very much appreciated. There are options to play around with, but nothing really helps matters.
For fans of interactive novels, Blue Lacuna is definitely worth a look, and may well keep you hooked for days on end. If you are the type of person who prefers visual aids, however, then the amount of text here may prove overwhelming. Blue Lacuna is available to download for free.