With games like Phoenix Wright becoming more and more popular on the DS, it’s no surprise that publishers are trying to find similar titles from Japan to bring over to the Western market. Lux-Pain is a visual-novel/adventure title with a setting and art direction similar to the Persona games, but none of the charm. Taking place in the Japanese town of Kisaragi, the game stars Atsuki Saijo, a man with supernatural powers that allows him to see into another world invisible to normal humans. The game’s unique selling point is to utilize both screens to show the normal world, and the world that only Atsuki can see in order to find and destroy mysterious worms called Silent that have infected humanity, causing them to commit heinous crimes. This is Japanese story-telling at its finest, folks.
In any case, Lux-Pain consists of dialogue accompanied by voice acting, though they don’t always sync up. The voice-acting is pretty solid, and kudos to Ignition for a great job on being one of the few companies to actually re-do voices rather than remove them when localizing a game. However, the writing is not that particularly interesting, and because of this, the bulk of the game seems almost pointless right from the get-go. It mainly consists of taking Atsuki to different locations via a map, where he meets people that have Silent inside of their bodies. Where and why you go isn’t always obvious, and many times you’ll find yourself choosing the only open location just because there’s nowhere else to go.
The other half, where you literally just draw over characters you talk to in order to find the worms to remove them, is mind-numbingly boring and a really strange basis for a video game. You won’t necessarily always find Silent to destroy for each person you find, either, which makes the act of continually moving about even more incomprehensible. There are certainly some weird games on the DS, but Lux-Pain takes the cake as one of the most non-game software titles on the platform, not to mention one of the least friendly. It can take quite a while to get a handle on what exactly you’re doing, and it’s even harder to find a reason to continue playing because of how much fluff the player needs to get through to find any reasonable content.
Perhaps the most baffling thing about Lux-Pain is that it’s being released at $30. This may have been an easier sell at a more modest price, but competing with games in the same price range is going to really hamper the sales of an incredibly niche title. While it has a nice style and interesting designs (you get a cool little art book included), there really isn’t anything else positive about Lux-Pain. Honestly, there aren’t any pros of playing this over buying a few Japanese comics or light novels instead if this is the sort of thing you’re looking for, and at least you can go at your own pace versus not being able to wade through the mostly trite dialogue.