“Lux” is a long choice-based game in which the protagonist explores a space station after a devastating incident there. She was blinded in that incident, but the station’s AI helps her navigate the environment and describes what she encounters.
Gameplay: The space station is vast, and much of the game is spent simply exploring it rather than solving puzzles or conversing with the AI. The game convincingly shows how damaged the station is and how isolated the protagonist is without overemphasizing it, and it thus makes the conversations with the AI more compelling. There’s a steady stream of puzzles to solve and numerous optional areas and scenes to explore, but the most interesting part of the game is figuring out what happened, what is happening, and whether the protagonist should trust the AI. (Despite the clues in the game that it wouldn’t be the optimal ending, I finished the game with the normal ending. The walkthrough indicates that getting the better one involves taking several particular actions throughout the game. That’s a more satisfying way of handling multiple endings than just adding a single choice at the end, but unfortunately I don’t have time to replay the entire game.) 8/10.
Mechanics: Even though the game is choice-based, it has a large map, keeps a substantial state, and contains classic adventure-style puzzles. The player collects various items around the station and can later use them to affect the setting. Selecting an item in the inventory screen readies it, and doing so may open up new options (often nested within multiple layers of options) in a room. The puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, but they provide motivation for exploring the station and reward paying attention to the setting. 7/10.
Presentation: The interaction between the protagonist and the station AI was a bit dry, though I’m not sure whether that was intentional. Regardless, it’s an interesting change from the more common overly helpful or gleely malevolent AIs that are common in games. Those interactions fill in the personality of the AI, although the protagonist isn’t as strongly characterized. The game also distinguishes the actions the protagonist can take from converations she can initiate with the AI by color in the menu, which is a nice touch.
I was, however, significantly bothered by the delays in the text in all the conversations and room descriptions. “Lux” is long and has a lot of text, and it was frustrating to have to wait several seconds after reading part of a description for the next paragraph to appear. There are several long cutscenes toward the end of the game, and I walked away from my computer for a while to let them play out. There’s no benefit to adding the delays, and it’s intensely frustrating to the player. 6/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You enjoyed “Stationfall” and the Portal series.