Lucah: Born of a Dream Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: melessthanthree

Published By: Syndicate Atomic, LLC

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Thatkevinwong for providing a review code

Once in a while, everybody stumbles upon an experience or a moment in time that genuinely makes them think. It can come from a life event, something someone told you, or maybe just witnessing something that’s absolutely breathtaking. I’ve followed Lucah: Born of a Dream since it launched on Steam last year. During the past year I often thought back to that game and hoped for it to someday come to Nintendo Switch, because of it being my primary console of choice. So, on July 3 2019 it launched on Switch and it was also on that day that I got to finish my first playthrough of Lucah: Born of a dream. Let’s talk about my time with it and why it may be one of the greatest titles on the Nintendo Switch to date.

Story

Lucah: Born of a Dream has a captivating story, even though most of the time I wasn’t even 100% sure on what was happening. You start inside a distorted world that’s dark, but lined with chalkboard like entities everywhere. The characters talk about fighting against the world you’re in and the despair that embodies it. You’ll meet other humanoid like characters that seem to know you, yet to you they’re unknown.

Everything has a sense of familiarity yet, I still felt lost the entire time. It’s like I knew where I was, but I didn’t exactly know what this place was. The story is not light-hearted and Lucah: Born of a Dream can fit into the horror genre because of it. It’s somber, lifeless and every new area makes you feel like you’re sinking further into darkness. The messages that pop up along with the memories you can find make everything feel connected. The story definitely has a deeper meaning than what, I could come to understand. I think its ambiguity helps hide the real messages about life that the game is trying to convey. It doesn’t hide them to make the player unaware of its messages, but to make the player think about their actions and think about what’s happening around them. Those who prefer straightforward and easy to understand stories will most likely not enjoy what Lucah: Born of a dream is offering. However, I think that the way the story is told is truly magnificent and many people will find enjoyment from it.

Gameplay

Lucah: Born of a Dream is an Action RPG that plays like a souls-like title. Following on the popular formula from games like Dark Souls and Salt & Sanctuary, the game relies on quick movements mixed in with fast paced combos. You have three meters: your health, stamina, and charge meter. Stamina is what allows you to dodge and attack, so when an action is taken it will deplete your meter. You have the option of light attacks and heavy attacks that essentially differ from one another by their speed and strength.

The combat mechanics in Lucah are surprisingly elaborate and definitely worth taking the time to understand them. For example, you can chain attacks together to be able to break an enemy’s guard, this lets you do massive damage to them and usually ensures victory. There’s also a parry mechanic that can be used to instantly incapacitate enemies. Dashing into an enemy’s attack at the right time will trigger this parry mechanic.

The way the combat manages to differentiate itself is through the use of the weapons which are known as Mantras. Mantras can be found throughout Lucah’s dark and decrepit world and they act as your weapons. Every mantra comes with its own heavy and light attack, each one having their own animation. Some Mantras will also differ in their range, whether they’re more of a short or long distance weapon.

What’s really intriguing about this weapon system is that you can mix and match Mantras how you want. These sets are called paradigms and you can even have an extra one created that can simply be swapped in anytime during battle. So you can match one of your heavy, short range Mantras with one of the other Mantras light, long distance style. There’s a great variety in the amount of different weapons for a game that only last about 3-4 hours for one playthrough.

Besides Mantra’s one of the other tools you’ll have at your disposal are familiars. The familiars are entities that follow you around and can use abilities at the cost of your charge bar. These familiars are vastly differentiated from one another. You can receive a familiar that shoots out a beam, a short distance bullet like attack, or even one that you can use to heal you. It’s an interesting mechanic that fits perfectly with the souls-like gameplay. Your charge bar can also be used to charge up one of your attacks and perform a strengthened version of it.

Lucah uses an experience system called “La” that acts similar to improving your stats in Dark Souls. When you find a cross you will be able to interact with it and be able to travel to a previous area or open up the “Level up” screen. You’re given 4 options of different stats, or sometimes an ability to spend your experience on every level. So some levels you may not even get the chance to level up the stat you want. However, the game manages to do a pretty good job of balancing out the options of stat upgrades you have each time. The different stats range from health, stamina, charge recovery, stamina recovery and more.

Virtues are another element that can be found, or gained upon leveling up. These act as passive skills, that you can equip to improve your gameplay. Some examples include: slower enemy projectiles, the ability to take a final hit before death, and the ability to recover health shortly after being damaged by an enemy. Every virtue has a cost attached to it, so you’ll have to make sure you have enough points to be able to equip them. You also have two other items at your disposal. One essentially acts as a full health recovery and the other lets you rewind to the start of a battle. Both of these items are great additions that I was happy to have during combat.

Everything in Lucah takes place in one strange world, but in multiple different sections. I would have to say one of the only areas I felt the game fell short was within its different areas. I never really understood where I was or, where I was going. It always felt like I was just wandering around every corner of the area until I stumbled across what I was looking for. There was really nothing to guide me, except a map that I found relatively unhelpful. This overarching feeling of being lost and exploring the unknown was interesting, but it could get a bit too confusing. Luckily, the different areas are very interesting. The backgrounds and NPC’s will definitely keep you enthralled and wanting more.

The final mechanic I will mention is the corruption meter. This slowly fills as you enter new areas throughout the game and will fill even more if you die. It’s mentioned that this meter will have an impact on the ending, but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how it works. I managed to finish my first playthrough without hitting 100%, but I don’t know what it did differently. I’ll probably have to do another playthrough to figure it out for sure.

Even now after playing through Lucah: Born of a Dream, I can’t stop thinking about it. The fluidity of the combat matched with the perfect complimentary mechanics makes this an absolutely phenomenal experience. Even though navigating it’s despairful world can be tough, there’s not many titles that make it as worthwhile as this one.

Extras

For extras Lucah Born of a Dream has customizable difficulty and a branching narrative that lets you uncover what I believe is three different endings. Once your first playthrough is finished it’s definitely worth running through again with the new game + mode, because you’re bound to have missed something during your first run.

There’s also a transform mechanic that you unlock near the end of the game that makes you very powerful and was a really cool mechanic to add in. I think it was a perfect idea, having it not appear until close to the end of the game.

Presentation

If you’re not sold on Lucah’s gameplay than the visual design has a second chance of reeling you in. Lucah uses a neon chalkboard style visual design that helps clash your character and the enemies against the world’s dark background. This visual design is totally unique and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. The way that the chalkboard colors blend together, with each attack in combat, is mesmerizing. I’m not sure how the developers came up with the idea to create such a creative design, but it looks absolutely amazing. From the enemy designs, to the environments and characters, Lucah gets it all right. Not to mention it has an eerie, yet energetic sound design that will keep you emerged in its gameplay.

Technical Issues

Besides one or two significant frame rate drops, I never had any technical problems with Lucah. Everything ran very well and I can’t fault a game for only having a few significant frame drops, during my entire playthrough.

Summary

My time with Lucah: Born of a Dream was one of the best times I’ve had with any title on my Nintendo Switch. The ambiguity of the story always gave me the feeling of wanting to press on and discover more about the strange world, I was wandering in. I felt the combat system was an excellent blend of multiple elements that came together and created what to me is one of the most satisfying combat systems of any recent title. Those who prefer straightforward stories may not find Lucah: Born of a Dream as thrilling, but I believe that this is a title worth trying for almost anyone.

9/10

Pros

  • Amazing Combat System
  • One of the Most Unique & Breathtaking Visual Designs of Recent Games
  • Customizable Difficulty Along With Multiple Endings
  • Ambiguous Story & World is Atmospheric and Very Well Made
  • Perfect Blend of an Eerie & Energetic Sound Design
  • Strong Replay Value
  • Wide Variety of Items to Collect

Cons

  • Those Who Don’t Like Straightforward Stories May Not Enjoy This Game
  • Exploration Makes it a Bit Difficult to Know Where You Are

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