Lacuna

Lacuna Review

5 0

Let’s cut right to the chase. Lacuna on PS4/PS5 is glorious. This sci-fi noir adventure feels like a spiritual successor to Police Quest, one of my favourite Sierra Games series from the late 80’s/early 90’s. It builds on the tropes of the genre, pairs it with excellent writing and establishes its own spin on the point and click adventure. 

Lacuna – Point The Finger

Lacuna ambient lighting

Tiny German developer DigiTales Interactive released Lacuna on PC back in May 2021 and this much anticipated console release is published by Assemble Entertainment. Available on Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch, this indie title comes in at 2GB install size on PS4.

If you enjoy this review be sure to check out our other Playstation game reviews

Gameplay

Playing as CDI agent Neil Conrad, the adventure centres around the investigation of a single homicide case. You inspect crime scenes, gather clues, conduct interviews and interrogate suspects. With your book of evidence you try to uncover the full truth and bring those responsible to justice.

Neil Conrad searching crime scene in videogame Lacuna PS4
Leave no stone unturned

Piecing together details of the investigation, you must submit sheets of your findings to progress the case. The game pulls no punches here and offers no hand-holding. You can submit totally wrong interpretations of the evidence, possibly implicating an innocent party in the process. This can have dire consequences as there are no do-overs and you must live with the ramifications of your choices. Tread carefully!

Lacuna evidence sheets
Get your facts straight

A nice inclusion to the interview/interrogation conversations is a timer on your responses. This heightens the stress and tension of trying to get the desired outcomes from your line of questioning. Its also nice to see that the team have considered accessibility by included an option in the settings to turn this feature off.

Crime scene searches are handled nicely too. A click of L3 highlights all interactive objects in blue, helpful if you ever feel a bit lost.

Accessed from the touchpad, your mobile contains a litany of information including news articles, emails, clues and a character glossary. There is also a log of all your past conversations here which comes in really handy when reviewing evidence. A very welcome touch.

My only gripe with the game is the load screens. While not long by any means, if these could be cleverly hidden it would add greatly to the cinematic presentation.

Graphics & Audio

The visuals are a marriage of beautifully detailed pixel art, parallax backgrounds and environmental elements like fog and lighting effects. The character design is simple yet their endearing animation detailing makes them excel. I even noticed reflection effects in some glass panels as I walked past, which further added to the immersion.

Lacuna reflection
Cool reflection detail

Supplemental to the visuals is the meticulous audio design. The locations throughout bustle with life and subtle background sound effects create a believable world that really feels alive. On occasion I found myself  just standing still and taking in the sights and sounds.

The stellar soundtrack, just like in a movie, builds tension, suspense. At points there is complete silence, really apt for those moments.

Speaking of movies, there’s great use of movie style camera techniques like wide shots, pans and zoom shots. These effects establish the scale and grandeur of the world, giving a real sense of how life continues as you investigate.

In the big smoke

Layered on top of all of these elements is the gritty narration, Conrad’s inner monologue of sorts. This brilliant voice-over work is from the talents of Buzz Blackburn and gave me vibes of Solid Snake.

A lot of care, attention and thought has been put into the design here. The individual strengths of the dev team shining as a cohesive fusion of multi-disciplinary talent. A real triumph.

Longevity

My initial playthrough took just under 6 hrs to complete. Branching paths and the consequences of your choices make for alternate ways for the story to unfold. The game features 8 possible endings so there’s more of the story to be uncovered on subsequent runs. As the end credits rolled I was already thinking about how I would approach my next attempt.

Stats a’plenty

There’s a lot of news articles to be found and read in the game chronicling the backstory and fleshing out the Lacuna lore. On the trophy/achievement front, it’ll take a couple of playthroughs to attain 100% completion as conflicting tasks cannot be achieved simultaneously.

Final Thoughts

Lacuna delivers on so many levels – art, music, atmosphere and sound design, but key to its success is the gripping story with its cast of interesting and relatable characters. These elements combine excellently to give a cinematic adventure set in an immersive world with a fresh take on the Point and Click Adventure genre.

DigiTales Interactive have knocked it out of the park with their debut release. Lacuna sets a high bar by which to be judged in the future. I look forward with great interest to see what they are working on next.

This is one I recommend you do not miss.

Lacuna takes home the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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