There's something about the 2D puzzle platformer genre that fosters creativity and artistic visuals, and Lucidity has both. It looks to be another endearing addition to the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PC. From the developers at LucasArts, who reimagined The Secret of Monkey Island, Lucidity takes place in a surreal, dreamlike world where you guide a little girl named Sofi to safety and closer to her Nana. If you were judging this game simply on the story setup and the 2D visuals, you might expect this to be an easy romp through the levels, but it's harder than it looks and more frantic than you'd expect.
The opening cutscene brought us to young Sofi's bedroom where she was tucked in bed reading a children's book while her grandmother quietly knitted and swayed in a rocking chair beside her. Sofi eventually drifted off to sleep, but when she awoke, her grandmother was gone and a glowing red ball had taken her place. After putting on her bright red tuque, with two dangling pompoms, she followed the strange light into what looked like a marsh where a bizarre-looking frog swallowed the red ball and leapt away.
Ignoring the fact that her room was now connected to the great outdoors, Sofi happily skipped along in her rubber boots with her small satchel and pompoms bouncing. The screen continuously scrolled as she made her way from left to right, and your goal is to collect fireflies until she reaches a mailbox at the end of the level to receive a postcard from her Nana. The game plays with Sofi in perpetual motion, and you're given puzzle pieces to help guide her to the clusters of lightning bugs while keeping her out of harm's way. Pieces can include a slingshot, fan, bomb, stairs, wooden plank, or a shoe with springs. You'll need to quickly lay these out in front of Sofi's path before she falls into a pit of poisonous-looking plants. If she happens to run into one of the many odd buglike creatures, she'll take some damage, but she can be healed if you catch more luminescent critters. It seems like she's fit to only take a couple of hits before you have to start the level over again.
At first, it feels like the level is scrolling rather slowly because Sofi is taking her time and you're given some simple pieces to work with, such as a wooden plank. She can climb small ledges, so you can use the plank to help her reach certain areas, but for the most part, the plank prevents her from falling into pits and having to restart. The shoes help her hop onto higher ground, the slingshot propels her horizontally, and the fan will blow her upward. Combining all these items can be tricky, especially when you're faced with multiple chasms, high ledges, large snails and moving fungi. You're going to have to think fast to figure out how to get her to safety while snagging all the glowing bugs. With the exception of the initial level, you'll find that it's rather difficult to get all the fireflies in one try. Using the left analog stick, you control where you want to place the puzzle piece, which is located in a box in the top-right corner, and press A to set it down. These items are generated randomly, and like Tetris, you can reserve a particular piece for later by pressing the B button. Once you place the pieces down, they will fade over time, which prevents you from setting up any kind of apparatus too far ahead.
If all you're trying to do is get the little girl to the end of the stage, it's not that hard, but if you're devoted to gathering all the fireflies, Lucidity can be quite challenging. The levels also get progressively more hazardous, so sometimes you don't even have the time or opportunity to look ahead because you're slapping down pieces as she's walking, jumping, or falling from the last ledge. The storybook visuals and soothing soundtrack stand out as you progress through the different stages of Sofi's subconscious. We really liked the artistic direction in the game where each area had its own color theme and made Lucidity look like an animated children's book. Soft-sounding instruments and the gentle plucking of strings accompany you as guide the adorable girl through the beautiful bug-infested dreamscape. It's hard to resist the game's charm, especially when you read the sweet messages left by Sofi's grandmother at the end of each stage.
A price has not been announced yet, but there is a release date set for October 7 for the Xbox Live Marketplace and PC via digital download. We'll update you with more information as soon as it becomes available.