Lucah: Born of a Dream discussion *spoilers*

I’m putting up the discussion thread early so that people are free to share their thoughts about Lucah at their own pace.

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Just found this precursor thing on itch, though I haven’t had time to check it out yet. Thought others might be interested:

I think I’ve played maybe a couple hours of Lucah and so far my impressions:

  • At first the visual style put me off a little. It reminds me of scratchy notebook drawings from emotional teen years, which felt a little embarrassing or something at first, and there are some rough edges with fonts and stuff, just feels kind of sloppy in places, but - I’m down for sloppy in exchange for Good. And I think the art actually serves the game well. Where I’m at so far story-wise, emotional teen notebook drawings feel like an appropriate memory to be snagging. The art also feels real evocative for cheap (looking at it with producer glasses on) , and it serves the gameplay well clarity-wise.

  • I’m really enjoying the combat. Feels playful and dancey, clear and crisp.

  • I’m in it for the story. I’m sometimes worn down by how many games are tongue-in-cheek, underwrought, and am excited that Lucah’s self-serious and mysterious.

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I’m a few hours in too, just got past Christian after getting my ass brutally whipped a bunch of times.

  • I find the gameplay enjoyable but i’m also not the kind of player that gets deep into a fighting system so my process so far is mostly mashing left click with a right click here and there. Also with the way stats work, i feel like it’s the kind of game where you really start to appreciate the system on your second playthrough when you know how it works and try to work with unbalanced stats (whereas for now i don’t feel like i have much of a sense of it so i keep it all mostly even). Except i almost certainly won’t play more than once sooooo
  • I’m… not feeling the narrative or writing so far tbh? It’s not bad but it’s also not breaking any grounds to me, i’ve seen lots and lots of games using heavyhanded christian liturgical ramblings and sin-as-decay-as–soiledness-as-deviancy to deliver a metaphor about parental abuse and ummm probably queer childhood, though the field of applicable meanings is still pretty wide at this stage of the game.
  • I really like the art in motion, though i find it hard to really get into environments because of it. I like how combat looks a lot but otherwise i don’t really care about exploring much, and also i keep opening the map because it’s the only place where i have a proper sense of space.
  • At first i thought the % that keeps rising as you play was a full game progression gauge and i really liked that, like an indication of how much you’ve seen and how far in the game you are. Since it raises everytime you die though i guess that’s not what it is, lol.

I think the point about the narrative is frustrating to me because i recognize a lot of the things i’m tempted to do in my own current game projects (queered up religious semantics ewwo) so i’ve got the Harsh Crit glasses on. Also the translation of the theme into a formal hacknslash gameplay has a tacky undertaste to it, like the way that christian turns onto you for no real reason which feels extremely videogame to me (reminds me of the 3rd/final arc in nier automata where one of the characters just becomes dumb as shit because i guess you have to have fighting in there and the only reason for him to fight at this point is if he is just I WILL KILL THEM ALL angry, which is a recurring but very hollow leverage in game narratives, imo) (something something the limitations of narrative in a game framework that revolves entirely on a combat system) (which i actually think can be explored and subverted in very interesting ways, i’m just not convinced Lucah manages to do that with what i’ve seen so far). Or for another point of comparison, that game Blasphemous that poses as a game about redemption from guilt and sin but wow what a surprise the effective vector for that theme is a gorey beat-em-up where you kill monsters. Convenient!! To clarify i think Lucah is a lot better than this, but i still find the way the themes and narrative are handled so far very expected. Maybe it’ll change later tho!

Anyway what’s everyone’s favorite fighting paradigm, rn mine is aero - pyro - starting minion (the blue one i forgot the name).

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Ahh I might be calling it quits post-Christian too. Got to him like a week+ ago and didn’t wan’t to call it quits before where Pol got, but yeah found it really hard, and the writing wore out fast having to rewatch it between probably a dozen tries :weary:

I’m at a point with it where I can see how a younger and gayer and more religiously repressed me would love the shit out of this game, but it’s just not giving reasonably-well-adjusted adult me enough to keep me going.

Gaea/Gaea/Pierce tho. I really like the punchy variable range of Gaea.

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Man I’m really no good at this type of game! But I’ve started getting into it after getting the rhythm of the combat down a little more, hahah. I’m still not sure what I’m doing or what seperates a good fight from a bad one but I enjoy that the game is pretty generous with areas and letting you roam around big strange maps. I think at first I was bouncing off the sparse woodland levels, the city and train areas are much more my speed (maybe that’s the music?). I don’t think I’ve had to sit down and map out any relational sense of just where everything is so far, which feels good considering how parsimonious games can be about forcing you to pay attention.

Really like the art style and how willing the game is to just have you look closely at very abstract, spikey pixel outlines. Also the way colour and animation and little touches are used to give the whole screen a sketchy quality at once rather than the familiar videogame feeling of a world snapped together out of modular parts. Something I enjoy about the combat is finding it hard to draw clear distinctions between the effects on the screen and the characters and my actions or the enemy’s and whatever else. It does make it a bit surprising when you realise you can still playing those sections in a fairly conservative Robotron esque way, or at least I did. The enemies and attacks are abstract enough I was surprised that something as basic as keeping far back and shooting at them would actually work.

I was hesitant about the writing at first since allegory can be a hard sell, and honestly I feel like… something about the non-primacy of written text in videogames, the way the visual elements suck the life out if it, makes it hard for it to attain any kind of dramatic resonance for me. But I got more into it - I think the key thing for me is how the more generalised, abstract text stuff is balanced by parts that feel both specific and concrete and also kind of interestingly alien to the rest of the game’s setting. I like the first memory you uncover, which I sort of read as being about watching creepy educational Christian tv shows in a church basement (davey & goliath??), I like the city with the kind of bland suburban placenames attached to these rambling monster zones. To me it’s most successful when it feels like a paranoid hyperstylized exaggeration of church camp stuff rather than just an indirect metaphor for that. But, I’m also not very far in so who knows.

Don’t remember the names but currently using the longrange standard attacks and the shotgun bug thingy.

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lol it definitely feels like we’re not the best crowd to appreciate that game. I’ve read tweets that commended the quality and depth of the game’s combat system but i’m really not someone who can appreciate that to its full extent (though it does feel really good, i can say that much).
I’ve progressed a bunch more and i think i’m getting close to an endgame, in whichever form it’ll manifest itself in this case. I want to reach it but i don’t think i’ll keep playing beyond it even if there is a new game + things or alternate endings. Also there’s been a second occurence of a character turning against me just because “ughghgh sangry (sad + angry)” and that’s just sinful.

Quick report to say that i did reach engame #1, though i think a bad one (got 100% corruption at what looked like the final boss), and started a new game + to see how different it was.
Turns out it’s pretty different! There was a huge lore dump at the start with actual named characters and events (though i’m not sure yet how it connects to gameplay events), and the combats + corruption mechanics changed a bit (corruption now rises significantly faster but fights bring it back down depending on how well you rank, so it becomes a game of getting into fights for the sake of keeping corruption in check). I was considering doing a full new game + playthrough to see where this is going (hungry… for lore!!!) but i’m struggling with the first bossfight so i don’t think i’ll do it.
Down the road i still feel like i missed a lot. There was a clear choice towards the end with a false priest kinda character (Do You Reject Their Teachings??? You Will Not Be Able To Come Back!! ▹yes ▸no) and i wish i could go back and see what happens if you go the yes route but i really don’t have the energy for a full normal playthrough again. I’m frustrated with that kinda lack of clarity in the narrative branching in the game, not that it’s exclusive to LUCAH by any means. But yeah i wish it would tell me upfront how much stuff left there is to see, and what effort i’d need to put in to get to it, bc right now i really have no clue.

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shuffle shuffle shuffle i got this game a month and a half ago and now have like 80+hrs in it somehow and speedrun it. so, ah, i do rly like it, mostly im a sucker for angsty gay kids , and some stuff in ng+ that’s extremely spoilers. and also lilli is baby, i love her

i use the bios/erebos and fos/aqua paradigms, i like the aqua and anima hold actions as well, rapid is my fav familiar but i also like impulse and aura! btw the mods in the tech options in the equip menu + sin/punishment levels + game speed options can make the game easier if you’re finding it difficult

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Initially I was enjoying Lucah and got FromSoftware vibes from the combat. About an hour or two in I bounced off of Lucah because one room felt particularly claustrophobic. I found the art to be messy and interesting but specifically the walls and objects were not very easy for me to read. Fighting in tight spaces with hard-to-read collision was much less enjoyable.

Yesterday I picked Lucah back up, cleared that one room that was giving me trouble, and started having a lot more fun. I favored the Aero paradigm with the shock familiar in the beginning. Then I started using Thanatos and pierce familiar and the things I enjoyed most about the combat came into really sharp focus. In order to do significant damage to enemies you have to break their guard by spending stamina and charge. However in order to deliver your most powerful attack you need to still have some charge and stamina after you break an enemy’s guard. This dynamic of spending your resources to break an enemy’s guard but still saving enough to dodge attacks and deliver the final blow was really satisfying. The challenge and my satisfaction increased when fighting multiple enemies.

A slight digression here but I really enjoyed facing Christian and it again reminded me a lot of FromSoftware. (I haven’t taken the chance to play Nioh, Code Vein, or other games in the genre). For anyone who doesn’t know Dark Souls and other games in this genre introduce combat against a wide variety of enemy types with fairly comprehensible attack patterns. Then halfway through the game you fight against a really challenging enemy with the same size, speed, and load out as you but completely erratic attack patterns. For me it was rewarding to practice the combat up to that point then use the skills I had developed to defeat an enemy that had all the tools I did.

The combat did start to loose some magic for me and I think I have put Lucah down for the time being. I reached the boss rush near the end of the game, which to be honest I have never really enjoyed boss rushes in any game. I do think that being able to switch paradigms mid-fight was a tantalizing option but I never felt pressed to develop the skill to do so. I could imagine some very impressive play with people swapping paradigms in the heat of battle.

There were some really specific bits of writing that I really enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed finding the video tapes labeled past &future and bringing them back to an old VCR in the basement. Also in the arcade one of the machines says something like:

The controllers for this game are shaped like guns. You are not allowed to play it.

It brought to mind my parents telling me that I couldn’t watch certain things or play certain things because they were too crass or violent. The line struck me as a really sharp contrast of parents barring children from violent media and then exposing those same children to horrible real-life violence. The rest of the writing was sort of all over the place and didn’t make much of an impression on me.

In regards to the queer characters violently turning on each other, it reminded me of a deeply sad and interesting Vice documentary I watched recently about gay conversion therapy. It followed some men who went to conversion therapy camp, graduated and then came back as camp counselors to convert an incoming group of men. In the act where you fight for the Cardinal’s blessing there is a dynamic of being told that there is something unacceptable about you and convinced to attack people like you to receive acceptance.

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