LUCAH: BORN OF A DREAM / DEVELOPER: MELESSTHANTHREE / PUBLISHER: SYNDICATE ATOMIC / PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: 3RD JULY
Waking up from a dream in total darkness, Lucah's arrival in this unknown place is a mystery. The only certainty is that the way home is going to be filled with danger. This nightmarish world is the place where inner demons manifest themselves as reality, and Lucah must banish these monsters by ending the all-consuming unholy corruption that is slowly building...
Lucah's art style is immediately eye-catching, with line drawings - almost like chalk scribbled on a blackboard - animated over solid black backgrounds. It's something we've never seen before, and developers melessthanthree should be applauded both for making such a bold move in the first place, and for executing it so successfully. We definitely enjoyed the visual side of things as much as we'd hoped, but what caught us completely off-guard is how great the gameplay is.
Working your way through the game is as simple as exploring each level, fighting monsters, then jumping on the train to the next station. Fully exploring your surroundings can lead to discovering new abilities, or items that open up additional paths. Combat consists of two-button combos and a single ranged attack, all of which depend on stamina meters. It's possible to mix and match attack styles, and even swap between them mid-combo, to create some flashy takedowns, and passive abilities can be changed out at any time. There's also some levelling up to be done, and Lucah's stats can be upgraded by choosing from randomised perks at rest points. It might seem like there's a lot going on, but it's all extremely easy to understand and everything works together incredibly well.
Honestly, having played all the way through the story, it's difficult to find fault with even the slightest thing - everything the game attempts to do, it pulls off pretty much flawlessly. Its story, in turns bleak, oppressive, harrowing and yet somehow still hopeful, is compelling throughout, and the gameplay contains more than enough nuances to keep things interesting all the way to the very end. And it's certainly a game that you'll remember for a long time after the final credits roll.
An unforgettable game that might just prove to be one of the year's finest surprises, Lucah: Born of a Dream gets the absolute highest of recommendations.