I was very lucky to get some play time in with Lust For Darkness as it seems to be a good few months away from release yet. In my time with the Alpha Demo, it remained unclear how long the game will last the average player and a price point has not yet been agreed by Movie Games. Reading the synopsis for the game, I learned that it would contain erotic elements mixed with horror. A potent mix for sure so, curious to see just how much those themes would hold up in a gameplay experience, I loaded up Lust For Darkness with a hint of trepidation… what was I letting myself in for?
Lust For Darkness is set for release Q2 2018, exclusively to PC
Reader discretion is advised. The following article contains sexually explicit material
As the game starts, we assume control of a confused Amanda. She comments on how messed up her situation is, waking up in a creepy and dimly lit basement. Although, it appears her kidnapper has some psychotic affection for her as she soon discovers she’s “on a date”. Stumbling out of the cold cobblestone basement, she emerges into a better lit wine cellar. Continuing she appears to be at a dead end. That dead end being… well, a sex room. It was pretty quickly that I realised this game is strictly for adults and the developers are NOT going in lightly with the sexual themes in Lust For Darkness.
Stumbling around this lavish bedroom, confused, as I believe is the developer’s intention at this point, I pick up phallic and vaginal little totems that serve no purpose. Yet there they are to be picked up and examined all the same. I see a sex harness at the end of the bed after already having seen an imaginative couch setup for debauchery just behind me. Whoever this guy is, he loves his sexy times.
Suddenly, a masked man in a Victorian suit knocks us out and next, we assume control of Jonathan a year later. He’s come to terms with the disappearance of his wife but receives an anonymous tip to head to the Yelverton Mansion to find his wife who seems to have remained there willingly the whole time. What follows is an increasingly uncomfortable set of events for Jonathan as he bears witness to orgies, occultist rituals and even hallucinations. It would appear that these sex crazed cultists have tapped into something real. Something demonic that has awoken…
Lust For Darkness (at least the demo I played) is a fairly slow moving game that relies on it’s world building and atmosphere to keep the player engaged. In fairness, it worked on me as I walked from one area to the next genuinely intrigued to see what was around the next corner. I experienced a very light stealth segment upon approaching the mansion which would suggest more stealth is to come in the full game. Jonathan is not a fighter. Don’t expect AAA frills like the sprint slide or context sensitive climbing areas, as seen in Outlast. Moment to moment control schemes simply consist of move, crouch and interact. Which is fine as Lust For Darkness’ only intention is to get you from one end of the story to the other and the themes of mystery it’s trying to portray. This brings it a lot closer to the likes of Amnesia than Outlast. I hate to compare games when talking critically, however, it is clear to see that many of the gameplay beats found in Lust For Darkness take inspiration from such titles.
In other words, Lust For Darkness is not doing anything we’ve not seen before in horror games. Regardless, it succeeds in maintaining player curiosity with occasional clever trick. From time to time, the mansion will morph around Jonathan when he’s not looking. We get a quick preview of the demonic realm as a part of it just…appears in the mansion. We carefully walk in wondering what the heck is going on and look back at the mansion to fully process the conflation of two worlds that seems to be happening. Turning back again, Jonathan sees the mansion back to the way it should be, the slice of demonic realm gone. It’s the developer’s know how and bravery to really mess with player’s head that I believe will one of the game’s biggest saving graces.
Although, does Lust For Darkness need any saving graces? I learned it has great puzzle ideas when I picked up a container, swiveled it around to notice a twisting ring puzzle on the bottom of it and opened up my next objective. Alas, yes, Lust For Darkness will need some saving graces for a few reasons. The stealth segment was fairly weak as I frantically crouch-walked from one place to the next, at a painful snail’s pace. The game is in dire need of a lean button as all of its prior inspirations have. Some objectives could remain frustratingly unclear to players, despite the boxed in and linear nature of each level. Suffice it to say, Lust For Darkness will require your patience.
Graphics & Audio
On the one hand, Lust For Darkness’ graphics are spectacular. The design of the mansion’s interior is not only believable but there is so much attention to detail, it look photorealistic. On the other hand, there is a sharp contrast to this. It is clear that the development team have more experience with level design than they do character models. Smartly, they’ve dressed up a majority of NPCs wearing masks to get away from the awfully designed faces that we briefly see in a picture of Jonathan and his wife.
There seems to be an odd contrast between the best and sharpest textures in the game with muddy tree and ground textures. The garden outside the mansion definitely needs more work. Aside from these small tidbits, for the most part, the game is very nice to look at indeed. That is until you stumble into a giant dick. Yes you read correctly, penises are big thing in this game and the uncensored nature of Lust For Darkness’ relentless onslaught of nudity almost reaches the point of parody. I was honestly surprised at how far Luminarium were prepared to go and they’re very brave in doing this. We will likely see our share of blurry YouTube reaction videos.
Pressing on past all this nudity, the player will eventually arrive in the demonic realm that the cultists have gained access to. Grimly lit with tones of red and purple, it continues the theme of sexual discomfort brilliantly. We, the player, will walk through it slowly processing the daring and sudden change in world design that has been thrust upon us. It looks grim, morbid and.. Fleshy. But it also looks great while the lighting compliments it yet further.
As far as audio goes, I made sure to play the game with headphones to soak it all in. That’s not to suggest I was compelled to do so through what I heard. It’s just a horror game which to me, requires a degree of player immersion. I plugged in to give the game its best chance to scare me. Did it work? Not really. Unsettled would be a fairer word. The music is nothing to write home about but fits the Victorian cultist theme well. Mixed in with the groans of the orgy, things were getting pretty atmospheric although I wasn’t sure I was happy about that. Lust For Darkness’ sound design is on track. Although, given the lacking degree of genuine horror, Luminarium would benefit greatly from adding more NPC chatter and the creaking sound effects of an old building filled with people having sex in it.
Lust For Darkness definitely has potential judging from its current state. If it were a six hour game, I’d guess its price point would be around $20. The attention to world building and atmosphere is spot on. Although there are a couple of rough edges in the graphical and storytelling departments that could use a little ironing out. We can’t pass judgement on these things fully until the game comes out Q2 2018. If you’re able to suppress the child in you that giggled in sex education at school, and see the game for what it has to offer, Lust For Darkness could be a great game.