Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Warning: Mature themes ahead
Lust From Beyond by Movie Games Lunarium is a first person psychological horror thriller that I easily found myself able to immerse into. Not generally my style of adventure, I became interested in the style after seeing Izzy play through the Amnesia series including the most recent Amnesia: Rebirth. So with that, I was off on my own wild adventure of puzzles and mysteries while watching my sanity drop and suffering its consequences.
For those that may not be aware, like I was at first, Lust From Beyond is the latest entry into its series. Only finding out after having started this adventure, I would be interested to know what came before but I don’t really think, at least without having gone through them, that they were necessary to enjoy the latest. So taking things from the top, you will be taking the role of Victor who has been tormented by horrible visions and travels to another city in order to meet with a psychiatrist that may be able to help with the things that he’s been seeing. Least does he know that the visions he’s been having would be the least of his problems.
Now, upfront, this is anything but a family friendly game. Even if one may choose to play through the adventure in a censored mode, it’s not going to hide the stronger elements that exist outside the nudity and sexual themes presented therein. On that note, one potential point that I was going to reserve judgement on was how “tasteful” the nudity and the sexual encounters would be presented as they are presented as early as the first chapter. Now there has been a fine line in the presentation of sexual encounters in video games ranging from true “adult” only titles to those of AAA studios adding them in as a reward of sorts for having successfully romanced someone at what can only seem like the end of the world at that point in time.
Falling more into the middle of the two for the most part, while these scenes both exist and require participation on input commands, they play out in tandem with the story and they didn’t feel like they were simply thrown into the mix because they “could” be. Instead, these scenes felt a bit more calculated as they are written in which I appreciated as throwing sex into the mix just to throw sex into the mix can easily ruin the experience being set up especially with one as “bizarre” as this one with characters being able to pass between two realms and see things that would drive even the most sane of people to madness.
This said, Lust From Beyond while working off of the idea of eroticism, is about a lot more than that. Finding himself in the middle of the yearly event, not only will you need to guide Victor through town in order to find his way forward, you’re also going to have to find your way around the insanity of a cult that will easily hunt you down to do more than just kill if they get their hands on you. So not only is this not family friendly, it’s also not for the faint of heart or the weak stomached as there are certain elements that can make you cringe and wonder just what the hell is wrong with these people. Think… Hostel and Hostel II but place Victor in the middle of things and that’s about where things get interesting as there’s only so much a person can take and some of these sights? They’ll drop your sanity hard as some of what you see is more than enough to make someone’s stomach turn at the gruesome sights that await you.
So it’s right here that I want to take a moment to both acknowledge and thank the developers for paying attention to their player’s feedback which is why this review is later than it should have been. Having both a health and a sanity meter, once your health drops, the obvious happens and you die. Game Over. Once your sanity drops however, on launch, it would mess with your controls which means forwards would stop being forward and go in another direction. Left and Right would swap. Playing with a controller if you had to press back to move forwards, you couldn’t run and I was quite literally stuck in a chase scene because the controls just wouldn’t let me move past it. Without the ability to load a previous chapter point or manual saves, I had to restart and avoid the sanity drops as best as possible to just HOPEFULLY get through that point.
So it’s on April 1, 2021, this past weekend and not a joke, that the developers pushed out a Lust From Beyond v1.0.1 which fixed this giant issue with sanity and instead had it act more like you would actually expect the loss of sanity to do. You see things that aren’t there, not unlike The Sinking City where even the imaginary monsters can kill you if you think that they are as real as the real ones. Just this small change for us, and most likely enormous change in the back end code for the developers changes what was a potentially flawed good into a good experience.
When you’re not flat out running away from people or monsters trying to kill you though, you’ll either be exploring at a leisurely pace or sneaking around trying to not get caught. The environments are interesting to explore and what I really enjoyed is how much effort went into the ability to manipulate doors especially after reading an article not that long ago on IGN about the woes of developers Putting Doors in Video Games. While exploring through various locations, you’ll be putting your hands on door handles and then either opening them slowly or quickly and then closing them if you choose to. There’s a natural feel to how you handle it so when you’re running away from someone? You’d better be quick to get your hand on the handle and hope that the door isn’t locked so that you can throw it open and keep on running through.
The above is not to say that Lust From Beyond is perfect. For some reason, my main computer couldn’t actually handle it without shutting itself off after a time which was weird as my laptop could carry it through for hours without a hiccup. I’m not sure how wide spread the issue is, but from other posts I know that I am not the only one. Regardless of the platform though, for those using a controller it would have been nice to be able to navigate through everything from the initial load into the game while using it instead of requiring the use of a mouse or keyboard to get past certain screens. Finally, if I did have one thing on my wishlist it would be a chapter select which while the devs say that they can’t promise anything they will look into it.