Detective games are nothing new but good ones are a little harder to come by. Fans of the genre long had the likes of Ace Attorney, Danganronpa, and more recently, Return of the Obra Dinn, and while each has its unique approach to mysteries for fans to sink their teeth into, new kid on the block Lucifer Within Us is here to offer something exciting to the genre.
Developed by Kitfox Games, Lucifer Within Us has you playing as Sister Ada; a digital exorcist called in to investigate a series of mysterious deaths, all suspected to be influenced by daemons. Your task, as with any detective (or digital exorcist in this case) when faced with murder, is to collect evidence from around the crime scene and testimonies from the suspects.
Your mission is understanding the opportunity, means, and motive for each suspect. When they could have committed the crime, how did they commit the crime, and lastly, why did they commit the crime – these are the essential facets you need to grasp.
Interestingly enough, this might seem like the foundation of a detective game but the game truly begins once players have collected their evidence and testimony. Each suspects’ testimony is placed on a timeline, broken down into smaller periods and aligned with their statements. As they recount their testimonies, the main screen will feature a re-enactment of the scene they are describing. From there, much like a video editing software’s timeline, players will be able to scrub back and forth to a specific moment that has caught their interest and question the suspect further.
With each suspect’s testimonies layered on top of one another, players will be able to toggle between suspects to question them further quickly. And if players notice any inconsistencies, they can utilise the ‘Contradict’ function that lets players poke holes into their statements. If a contradiction truly exists, an extremely satisfying ‘Lies Unmasked’ screen will appear, and the suspect will be forced to retract their statement and give you the true account of what’s went on.
With every contradiction found, players will be able to unlock the third eye of sorts, to delve into the suspect’s psychological sanctum and glean further information from their psyche to find possible motives for the murder. What you see can range from one’s weakened confidence in their abilities or religious scepticism to more devious ones such as religious fanaticism, pride, or even deep envy towards one’s brother. These are the nuggets of information players need to help determine the name of the daemon possessing the subject.
There might be times where you find yourself stuck, at which point the game might just devolve into one where you’re just clicking at everything at your disposal to see which one is the key to progressing the plot. Perhaps something along the lines of a hint system would have been appreciated, as you are thrown to your own devices reasonably early in the game.
Thankfully, the game is somewhat forgiving of errors; multiple errors won’t have you activating a lousy end or an event with the culprit escaping. All you get is a jab at your competency as a digital exorcist, nothing the strong Sister Ada and the players can’t handle.
The aspect of having a timeline of events right at your fingertips, the ability to quickly cross-reference and have statements corroborated against one another, and being able to stop at specific points in time to grill suspects is something fans of mystery novels and games would enjoy. Disproving their statements and catching them in a web of lies is perhaps one of the most satisfying outcomes of the game.
Once you think you have figured out the when, how, and why of a case, you will need to wrap things up with your concrete accusations. Should the accusation ring true and the suspect is unable to deny it, the game will proceed to have the suspect give you the full story of what exactly happened. All this takes place while an ominous red glow shines from the culprits head, a sign of the daemon inhabiting their inner sanctum.
This is when you need to delve into their minds one last time to cast out the daemon possessing them. There is something incredibly enjoyable hearing Sister Ada call out the daemon’s names and commanding them to leave the culprit’s mind. It just does not get old.
One aspect we particularly enjoyed from Lucifer Within Us is the beautifully haunting score that takes front and centre stage during dramatic moments such as during the final reveal during a case as to who the culprit is. Most of the dialogue for the game is also voiced, with less important conversation between characters left unspoken.
Despite the stylised take on religious and demonic symbolism in the game, the notion that humans only committed devious crimes after they were manipulated and goaded into action by the daemons possessing them is one that can be hard to stomach. It is undeniable that humans are fallible creatures who are perfectly capable of committing a horrible crime without any demonic intervention, and this is a creative direction that may not sit well with some.
The fictional world of Lucifer Within Us blends both cybernetics and religion together, with the church and technology co-existing alongside one another and its citizens worshipping a god named Ain Soph. It is certainly an interesting world to explore, with the game feeding you bits and pieces of information along the way. By the end of the game, it was not too difficult to figure out who the supposed villain of the game is, along with the implications of how the daemons and Ain Soph is related to one another.
It was more than a tad disappointing that there was not a final battle of sorts, with the final confrontation against the big bad ending after a long expository conversation. It does, however, provide a strong teaser for a sequel.
This brings us to the last major qualm with the game; it felt entirely too short. There are only three cases in the game, which you can quickly finish in under two hours. The first case itself was a tutorial of sorts with you learning the ropes of the game. Perhaps the game could have fleshed itself out a little more with another one or two more cases, or maybe have us solve a case which leads us en route to defeating the mastermind of it all.
Instead, we might have to wait for a second game to do just that. If the theme of the seven deadly sins is to be carried on to fruition, we will likely meet the last three evils in the next game.
All in all, Lucifer Within Us is a fun, immersive game that weaves an enthralling tale through suspenseful storytelling and an interactive game mechanism that is unique from other detective games out there. Sadly the game suffers from being just a tad too short with only three cases for players to solve. Ultimately, if you are looking for a great new detective mystery game that won’t take too much time to complete, then Lucifer Within Us is one you should check out.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Set in an alternate universe where religion and cybernetics are closely interwoven, Lucifer Within Us stands out for not only its interesting premise but also its use of a unique intuitive timeline that lets players manipulate the events that transpired to solve the mystery. Though short, it still makes for one engaging experience.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 7.5/10
Geek Satisfaction - 7/10