It’s Time to Wake Up! A Lucidity (PC/XBLA) Review!

What do our dreams mean? Are they complex metaphors created by piecing together our immediate thoughts, or are they simply amalgamations of past events? Can the stories that play out in our dreams help us deal with events in the world we inhabit while awake? Puzzle-Platformer Lucidity might hold the answer to these questions.

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Lucidity is a platforming puzzle game where you place items in the right places in order to ensure your character safely makes it to the end of the level. You guide Sofi, a young girl who only wishes to find out where her grandma (or ‘Nana’) has gone off to. Sofi is constantly moving forward, and it’s up to you to place items to make her journey easier.

The art style is very reminiscent of the author Tomie dePaola and works nicely with the superbly soothing soundscape. The character animations especially stand out in my mind as something that would constantly distract me from the task at hand. The story is told through Sofi’s drawings at the beginning of each level, as well as postcards from ‘Nana’ at the conclusion. Going into the game having seen the art and heard the music, I was expecting a relaxing experience. For the first few levels I found this to true. Nonchalantly placing stairs for Sofi to climb, or spring boots to fling me toward the collectible fireflies was an enjoyable romp that I could leisurely partake in. But once in a blue moon, a great dream can become a nightmare.

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Shortly after you get used to basic controls, the world of Lucidity introduces a deadly new mechanic. Before, when Sofi would get caught on an obstacle, you could take your time devising a way to get her past it. A few levels in however, a wall of darkness appears to the left of the screen. It’s moving at the same rate as Sofi, but in the event that she gets stuck on something, it will quickly consume her. This adds a level of tension, and stress to the otherwise calm game. Of course, learning how the levels work is a key point in understanding any video game, so occasionally being consumed isn’t that big of a problem. What is a problem is the game’s severe lack of any checkpoints along the way. If at any point in a level you get consumed by darkness, or fall into a pit, you’re sent back to the very beginning of the level despite how close you could be to the end. This  makes an otherwise enjoyable game, very frustrating.

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I enjoyed the basic experience, but in later levels I became very frustrated at the amount of unavoidable deaths, and lack of checkpoints. I think that the option to remove the wall of death, and the inclusion of mid-mission checkpoints would make the game immensely more enjoyable to more people. The story that’s being told carries emotional weight that is fairly easy to relate to but it’s just wrapped in a very stressful package. If you’re into puzzle games, and are patient enough to find your way through the levels, Lucidity is probably for you.

Lucidity is available now on the PC through Steam, and Xbox Live Arcade for 10 Dollars/800 Microsoft Points.

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