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Lux-Pain Package Art
Ignition Entertainment


There's no need to come up with another paragraph about how graphic adventure games have found a new home on DSes everywhere and the genre has found new life on Nintendo's handheld system. Everyone is already aware of these facts. Adventure games have become so popular that publishers aren't hesitating to bring them across the Pacific.

Enter Lux-Pain. A strongly Japanese adventure game that might have been lost in the shuffle in 2005 comes across now, after the genre has been solidly established at the marketplace. With a built-in audience and top-notch presentation (the original US release of the game comes packaged with an art book), Lux-Pain seems to be well-positioned.


Displaying an art style that is strongly reminiscent of the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series, Lux-Pain effectively conveys its dark, somber story. When interviewing students, teachers, and other members of the Kisaragi community, the same view is placed on both top and bottom screens. The bottom screen represents the real world while the upper screen shows what's in the Ether world, which hero Atsuki Saijo can see with his right eye. It is in the Ether world that people's hidden thoughts and feelings are revealed to Atsuki through his Sigma power.


The music of Lux-Pain is quite suitably creepy and atmospheric, with a hint of whimsy thrown in for good measure -- this is taking place at a high school, after all, despite all the murders, assaults, and suicides. Whatever the mood, the score suits it impeccably, and a strong variety of tracks means one won't always be hearing the same background even in similar situations. Unfortunately, the game's voice acting does not quite achieve the same level of quality, and while the actors themselves aren't too horrible, the voices are always under-modulated and difficult to hear over the music, impressive though it is.


Lux-Pain doesn't just share a visual style with games like Persona, it has a similar plot as well: the action revolves around Kisaragi High School, an old building where strange deaths are occurring. Atsuki Saijo, the game's main character, is a member of FORT, an organization which investigates paranormal occurrences. Silent, a type of creature created through hate and sadness, was responsible for the deaths of Atsuki's parents, so he acquires the power of Lux-Pain in his right eye and left arm in order to destroy Silent everywhere he finds them.

Lux Pain ScreenLux Pain Screen

In Atsuki's quest to find the Silent that are causing strange deaths throughout Kisaragi City, he traverses locations including the high school itself, parks, shops, internet cafes, and TV stations to find the original Silent causing the trouble. Interviewing other characters is a part of the action, and if his Sigma power is alerted, Atsuki can locate Shinen-- hidden feelings or memories-- with the touch screen by "erasing" sections of the real world and uncovering the Shinen within the Ether. This provides one of the main aspects of play. The top screen, or Ether world, shows a floating thought, and the player must scratch off a portion of the real world below in order to find the truth. This is necessary for most interactions, and while it gets repetitive, it rarely seems annoying. Reacting to characters with the right response and emotions also plays a part, with Atsuki's reactions influencing some character's feelings towards him.

The system itself is decent enough, but the localization of Lux-Pain leaves a lot to be desired. The script seems to be loosely or poorly translated at several points, with some repeated spelling and grammatical errors. In addition, the voice actors seem to be working off an entirely different script than the one that appears on-screen. It's actually somewhat confusing -- wouldn't it be much harder to create two different English scripts for the game rather than just one?

Regardless, this puts the player in an awkward position, as at times, the gamer may be listening to catch where the voice and text scripts diverge, rather than paying attention to what's going on in the story. In addition, the translators apparently couldn't decide whether to leave the story set in Japan or change it to America for Western audiences (other adventure games like Time Hollow and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney have done this), and said translators then forgot to remove all references to the US from the extensive character database before the game went gold. A localization this sloppy would be matter of course for a PlayStation game in 1996, but it is far less excusable today.




While Lux-Pain achieves some good things, it's hampered by its quality of localization and its over-reliance on one or two major tasks. What it ultimately boils down to is whether or not the player is bothered by the inaccurate and erratic translation and the linearity of gameplay. Few adventure players will be bothered by the latter, but whether or not the former will be an issue is a matter of taste.

final score 7.8/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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