STAFF REVIEW of Lacuna - A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure (Xbox One)


Friday, January 21, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Lacuna - A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure Box art There is something about the Noir style that always manages to grab my attention. Movies, TV shows, commercials, graphic novels – the dark brooding narrative, the stereotypical sax in the background, everything about the genre appeals to me. When I saw the opportunity to review Lacuna: A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure I immediately had to play it, and I’m so glad I did. This is a fantastic debut from German developer DigiTales Interactive.

At first glance, Lacuna looks like just another pixel point and click game, but please don’t make this mistake. The pixel art somehow manages to capture all the Noir feeling more than I thought possible. Once you get through the oddly structured tutorial, you are placed in the trench coat of Neil Conrad, who works for a seemingly futuristic version of the FBI known as the CDI (Central Department of Intelligence). He’s an absentee dad, wasn’t a fantastic husband, but loves his job and is well respected. The game takes place in the future and on the planet Ghara, not Earth. You are tasked with protecting a visiting dignitary from the planet Drovia and, well, you know what happens next... the VIP bites the dust, and you need to solve the case. The murder needs to be solved quickly and efficiently, but this story was so much more than the homicide investigation directly in front of you. Lacuna’s story captivated me from the start and every event had me wanting to know what would happen next. Every conversation, every decision could have played out in a unique way, and you can definitely replay this game multiple times and have different story outcomes. The story is part crime solving, part corruption, part politics and a little family drama mixed in.


I spent a lot of time investigating and uncovering Neils personal life. I talked to everyone I was able to and explored the streets lined with cafes and corner shops wondering who might talk to me next. I listened to street musicians and got lost listening to his inner monologue. I spent time uncovering side stories and helping random characters, like assisting an old man with his missing boat, or meeting a colleague for breakfast, instead of simply rushing to the next case. I explored the relationship with Neil's ex-wife, Catherine, and talked about decisions involving his daughter Laura. This method of gameplay helped the game feel fuller and more rounded than when I rushed through on the second playthrough to see a separate ending. The writing is strong, and each character you meet is unique with their own backgrounds, concerns, and personalities.

There is a lot of narrative shoved at you, a lot of conversations and clues to pick up and refer back to. Thankfully, there is a log you can refer back to if you can’t remember who told you the piece of info you needed to fill out your sheets to turn in to your supervisors when solving cases. Twists in the plot come into play when you fill out these sheets to turn in. Was the suspect bald? Did he have red hair? A beard? A scar? What mega corporation was funding the attacks? So many choices, so much intrigue. If you make a mistake, the story will still move forward, but with the scenes playing out differently.



One thing to note is for the majority of the time you can be the most inept detective in the universe, and it doesn’t matter. People will cover for you and help you out if you get things wrong. That’s fine up until a certain point where it definitely matters if you got it right, and your incompetence is no longer accepted or tolerated. I played through once being the most bumbling cop I could be to test this theory.

Once aspect of the game design I really disliked was the save system. Rather, the lack of the option to have multiple saves for the game. This means that if you make a mistake, or take a turn you aren’t happy about, you can’t go to a previous save or jump around after finishing the game to explore other narrative options. In other words, make no decision lightly. Mistakes can hurt. Every decision, or lack of, has consequences. For me, this was extremely frustrating. I am a bit of a completionist and there is an achievement for seeing all eight endings of the game. Because of the inability to jump to branching points, you’ll basically have to do eight playthroughs to get this. I may find the time to go back and do it in the future. I can’t have that missing achievement haunting me. Another point of frustration was the investigation scenes. You could pop in and out of an AI mode that helped you locate things to inspect or gather, but when multiple items were close together, it was rather finicky trying to find the perfect place to stand to be able to inspect it.

I genuinely adored the noir inspired presentation of the game. You see the seedy underbelly of the world in which Neil lives and it’s obvious that this would be tough place to survive unless you were one of the affluent ones. You encounter hookers, drugs, murder, and plenty of F-bombs that didn’t seem out of place. Neil’s internal monologue kept the broody vibe flowing throughout the game. In fact, his internal monologues are the only voice acting you’ll hear in the game, and it was knocked out of the park by voice actor Buzz Blackburn. The gravelly, brooding tone was the only voice needed to carry this noir adventure. The game is accompanied by an original and beautiful soundtrack from Julian Columbus, and is available for purchase if you are a jazz lover like I am.


Lacuna billed itself as a 2D point and click that didn’t keep with a lot of typical tropes seen in these styles of games, which I adored. They did a fantastic job. Instead of solving the typical puzzles normally find, you’ll spend your time gathering clues, investigating the scenes and interviewing suspects and witnesses. Most conversations are straight forward with multiple dialogue options to explore, and when filling in your sheets to work through your cases, the answers are all multiple choice. Remember to refer to your log if you’ve forgotten details. Dialogue choices also have a timer, creating an urgency to your replies. You can turn the timer off, as well as use your AI discovery sense to assist in your investigations but I found that leaving the timer on and not using the AI help gave a more intense and realistic detective experience. Turning the timer off and using help let you have a more leisurely experience and gave you more time to dwell over your answers and questions.

It’s easy to dismiss a lot of 8-bit games as retro in styling but Lacuna seems to push the boundary here as well. Characters move fluidly and light bounces off people and objects creating more depth and movement. As Neil sits for a smoke, or rides an elevator, the camera zooms in to create a sort of dramatic intensity, then pulls away to show more of the vista.

It’s rare that a game finds a way to fully explore the weight is choices and consequences, and even more so to find a debut game to that. Lacuna does a fantastic job in that regard. Coming in at around 4-5 hours for a playthrough, it is well paced, doesn’t have a lot of filler and keeps the story front and centre. Take it from this dame; it doesn’t take a gumshoe to tell you to investigate this narrative driven noir game and not let this prime suspect slip through your fingers.

**Lacuna - A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**




Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10

Comments

Site Statistics

Registered Members: 56,130
Forum Posts: 725,947
Xbox One Titles: 4,229
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,086
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 586
Original Xbox Titles: 987
Staff Reviews: 2,291
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 16,325
Screenshots: 36,345
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News

Sci-Fi Action RPG Dolmen Out Now

Sci-Fi Action RPG Dolmen Out NowPrepare to have your timeline erased as Prime Matter and Massive Work Studio announce that Dolmen – the third-person action-RPG with a unique cosmic horror sci-fi setting – is out now for PC and consoles.


Swords and Bones Releasing May 27th

Swords and Bones Releasing May 27thSwords & Bones is a retro pixel platformer referring to great hits from the 80s and 90s. It was created by the duo of brothers - SEEP - whose mission is to enthuse players with a love of old-fashioned games.




GreedFall 2 Announced for 2024

GreedFall 2 Announced for 2024GreedFall 2 is an RPG that focuses on story and player choice but also includes new gameplay in the form of more tactical combat and revisits the unique universe created by its predecessor.


WRC Generations Coming This October

WRC Generations Coming This OctoberNever before have games come this close to the real-life World Rally Championship! Hailed by both critics and professionals, this year’s WRC simulation has been reinforced with numerous improvements and optimizations requested by the community.



See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

KeyWe Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 1943 Views

2021: XBA is still here
Post by shrew king
20 Replies, 29599 Views

Watch Dogs: Legion
Post by Nato King
0 Replies, 62073 Views

Xbox Series X or S
Post by Nato King
5 Replies, 75152 Views

Spellbreak Grand Magus Pack (3) and Starter Pack (7) Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 76267 Views

I pay $ 1000! I search the Element 54 Canadian launch Team signaturen Faceplate
Post by Smill
0 Replies, 82300 Views

Xbox one no signal
Post by debrartin
0 Replies, 85357 Views

do you remember?
Post by SnoochyBoochy
3 Replies, 88225 Views

i haz xbox
Post by SnoochyBoochy
0 Replies, 67213 Views

Claiming the first thread of 2020
Post by Kraft
7 Replies, 120762 Views

Important! I pay $ 1000! I search the Sweden launch and the Element 54 Faceplate
Post by Smill
3 Replies, 82554 Views

Squad Up
Post by samslophead
0 Replies, 155727 Views

TERA Skinned Xbox One X Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 113913 Views

Starfield Release expectations?
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 198152 Views

Issue with Xbox live on Xbox home
Post by rcmpayne
0 Replies, 115024 Views

© 2000-2022 XboxAddict.com - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. XboxAddict.com is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics