I may have played quite a few choice & consequence games in my "career", some of which have even left their stigma, but a case like Lacuna is one of the rarest. Not because it offers anything unprecedented. But because what it chooses to do, which is to tell a well-written and interesting story that is left at the player's "mercy" as to where it will end up, it executes it really well. Perhaps even better than AAA productions, despite the 2D pixel-art approach being a "red herring" for many people.
But those of you who are against this kind of style, put aside your misgivings and come to the world of Lacuna. There, where CDI (Central Department of Intelligence) agent Neil Conrad will find himself embroiled in the case of his life. In an alternate universe where interplanetary travel is a fact of life, but the pressures of capitalist society are greater than ever, Neil is assigned to solve the assassination of diplomat Joseph Banny by a sniper. Banny represented the government of the planet Drovia, where forty years ago a terrible accident occurred there in the mineral mining network, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. Since then, and because of this event, Drovia has been under the surveillance (mainly financial) of the powerful government of the planet Ghara, which also owns CDI. Hence the reason for Banny's visit with Ghara representatives to discuss the possible independence of his planet, an event that many journalists had little hope of achieving.
But, as if the scandal of the assassination of a diplomat on foreign soil was not enough, things start to get more complicated when it turns out that Joseph Banny also had connections with some autonomous groups not so friendly to the Ghara government. So on the verge of a catastrophic war, the CDI finds itself in the most unfavourable position in its history, as it has to find a way to track down the culprit, who is behind this daring move and what his motives are.
Admittedly, an extremely critical mission, made even more difficult by Neil's personal problems. Being divorced with a child, he is trying to balance between the time he can devote to his ex-wife and daughter and the increased demands of the situation. It's clearly up to us what the outcome of the case will be, which as is it happens in similar games of this genre, can have either a happy or painful shade. Either for Neil himself or for the fate of millions of people.
The way the case will play out is primarily based on our responses to the interactions we have with the various characters and research. The mechanism of the dialogues is simple, straightforward and seamless in its execution. They don't babble aimlessly, are well-written and have a fair amount of plausibility, and our participation in them, beyond pressing the button to move on to the next sentence, is based on choosing between two or three answers at a time, with a time limit. Depending on our choice, we may usually receive or lose some information about our research that may be immediately useful or at a later time. And in some places, which are not always as clear as one might expect, the answer we give to a question is of such great importance that it affects the entire plot development: from the places we visit and act to the people who ultimately survive.
Research is on the same wavelength, in terms of information gathering. Although it's essentially only of use in certain places, pressing the relevant button puts Neil into investigation mode and he can thoroughly examine the objects in the environment and record his conclusions (practically there is no inventory). Though, admittedly, it's a bit difficult to miss an object to examine, as the hotspots' display mode is made for... myopic people.
So far, with the accessibility that Lacuna shows at first glance, it looks like another "walking simulator" game (albeit in 2D), where the player defines, easily and quickly, the desired finish and then proceeds to uninstall. Correct? No. The spice of the recipe lies in the Sheets that must be filled out for each objective individually. Sheets are essentially multiple choice questions that appear in our mobile entry, and once we are allowed to submit our answers, the assigned objective is completed. However, the "right" answer is not always so obvious. This is because much of the information comes either from a conversation that a person we are talking to told us or from an item in an e-mail or even from the newspaper we are downloading. All the information is recorded in detail on our mobile phone, which we can refer to at any time, but if there is one thing we ought to do in order to follow a "good" ending to the story, it is to give due attention.
So in this part, Lacuna leaves us to swim in the deep end on our own and requires us to thoroughly and carefully check the data we have collected before making a decision. It goes without saying that as the plot escalates and the pace becomes breakneck, the difficulty of the answers we are asked to provide increases. Consequently, we can easily be led to completely wrong conclusions if, for example, we fail to question a witness or fail to pay attention to a detail of a news story. Once this happens, then the game is unforgiving, as every decision we make is final. There is no option to return to a previous save, which is done automatically, so if we changed our mind about something we chose... we're out of luck. We'll have to live with it until the end of the adventure. After all, there is no "right" and "wrong": there is only action and consequences. And that's where Lacuna gets a high grade.
A high degree that is maintained in the excellent cyberpunknoir atmosphere that pervades it. It's one of those times when pixel-art is truly...art, as Lacuna features some of the most accomplished graphics of the genre, combined with an impeccable cinematography. Special mention should go to Julian Colbus' original and gorgeous soundtrack, which puts us well and truly in the mood of a dystopian universe with its atmospheric melodies. It's no coincidence that it can be purchased separately. As for the voice-over, it is limited to Neil Conrad's monologues, but fortunately the actor who took over is excellent.
In conclusion, Lacuna undoubtedly claims a place in one of the best indie albums of the year. With a well-crafted and clever script, memorable characters, several political overtones, intrigue and plenty of moral questions, it's safe to say that it will be long etched in your memory. Whatever decision you make, after all, you can try again.
RATING - 90%
Μια εξαιρετική choice & consequence παραγωγή, με πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα cyberpunk/noir ιστορία, αρκετά εναλλακτικά μονοπάτια και πολλές δύσκολες αποφάσεις.
Wishlisted με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες.
Τα γούστα μας ταυτίζονται στα ποιοτικά adventures, οπότε αγοράστηκε η Save The World Edition με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες! Είχα το νου μου για την παρουσίασή σου, γιατί φοβόμουν το pixel art εικαστικό του (όσο παράξενο κι αν ακούγεται).
Περισσότερα σχόλια μόλις το ολοκληρώσω!
Δεν μπορώ να καταλάβω πως μου ξέφυγε αυτό, ενώ κάθε μέρα τσεκάρω το site. Σήμερα τσεκάροντας κάτι στο metacritic, το είδα να φιγουράρει στα τοπ με 88 βαθμολογία! Wishlisted αμέσως! Θα τσεκάρω τον free πρόλογο κιόλας να δω από πρώτο χέρι τι παίζει πριν το τσιμπήσω…