May Ain Soph guide you to unveil the truth!
I always look forward to a well-crafted detective game — not only because I’m excited to see the story and figure out how all the clues fit together to find the culprit, but also because I’m interested to see what the title brings to the table in terms of mechanics. As a die-hard Phoenix Wright fan, I’m constantly searching for something that will give me the same rush I felt when I first played the Ace Attorney series, poking holes in testimonies and pointing out contradictions; simultaneously, I’m also hoping to see how the game builds upon greatness, not cloning the giants of the genre but adding their own unique contribution to it instead. Stumbling upon Lucifer Within Us was therefore a most welcome surprise, the title creating an entirely new mechanic that worked seamlessly while dazzling in terms of story-telling and world-building.
Developed and published by Montreal-based studio Kitfox Games, Lucifer Within Us is available on Steam for $19.99 with a launch price of $17.99. Players take on the role of Ada, a digital exorcist tasked with purging unfortunate humans of the daemons that possess them. Called upon only after a murder has transpired, Ada must gather evidence, listen to testimonies, scrutinize timelines, find contradictions, and accuse the guilty party to exorcise the daemon and banish them from the mortal plane. May Ain Soph guide players to unmask all lies and find the truth buried within!
Lucifer Within Us features an incredibly developed and complex society that is deeply and digitally religious. Ada, the aforementioned digital exorcist, works with the Church of Ain Soph to cleanse sinners and restore harmony to the souls of the afflicted. In Ada’s world, crimes are committed by humans, certainly, but only because they’ve been possessed by a daemon taking advantage of their deepest desires or fiercest traumas. It’s up to Ada to investigate crime scenes and use the power of deduction to uncover the perpetrator, then banish the daemon residing within to curtail the corruption wrought by their presence.
Controls are incredibly simple in Lucifer Within Us, as everything can be handled by the mouse and the space bar if desired. Objects of interest are highlighted in a digital blue sheen so there’s no need to spend hours searching for a single clue. By clicking on the object, it’s automatically added to your evidence roster, where you can either read up on it in that very moment or skip it for later. I found that option surprisingly refreshing, as collecting all evidence at once then reading about them in bulk made for a better flow instead of the typical stop-and-go that tends to come standard with the genre.
Where Lucifer Within Us truly shines is in the timeline feature, where players can compare snippets of testimony against each other to find contradictions and unmask lies. Suspects will give their testimony to Ada as players watch the scenes unfurl on screen. Each chunk of testimony can be further scrutinized if something seems suspicions; for example, one suspect professed that he had been working for the entire time leading up to the murder, but evidence pointed to him opening a door while the other suspect was occupied with something else. Upon that revelation, the suspect changed his tune, and the chunks of testimony changed to fit the new narrative. After a while, players are able to isolate key information that leads to them correctly identifying the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime, paving the way for Ada to begin the exorcism ritual and purge the daemon from the human host.
What makes the timeline feature work in Lucifer Within Us is its pretty perfect UI. Ada will collect up to three testimonies which align time-wise, making it easier to spot contradictions. If someone says they were in one place, but another person stated they saw them somewhere else at that exact moment, you can see that quite clearly just by glancing at the chunks of testimony. The use of color is ingenious as well, as it allows players to quickly isolate problem areas. Chunks of testimony highlighted in gold mean that other people have verified that segment to be true, while the color blue indicates areas that could lean either way. A segment in black with a red outline means a direct contradiction, so players can easily ascertain that someone is lying about that particular moment in time. It’s so cleanly laid out that it makes a good mechanic great, and I genuinely hope to see this implemented in future detective games.
The world-building in Lucifer Within Us is lore-dense with a rich history thousands of years deep. You can feel the weight of this version of humanity with every sentence written, where fascinating foreign concepts flow naturally. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a religious society predicated on technology while touting the old-world pomp of digital deism. I won’t get into spoilers, but the end reveal blends a familiar entity with a new age sinister fear that, coupled with the objectively creepy voice acting, made me tremble. Having grown up in a religion as a majority culture (LDS Utah), Lucifer Within Us perfectly nailed the feeling of entrenchment in a church, feeling totally recognizable despite its setting in a fictional future where the digital becomes spiritual.
Lucifer Within Us commits only one crime — it’s pretty short. With three cases and four total daemons to exorcise, the entire experience can be completed within two to three hours. Now, those few hours are absolutely worth it in my opinion, as this is one of the tightest games I’ve played in ages. I’m not saying it’s too short for the money paid; instead, I just wish they had even one more case or just a few more daemons to add simply for lore’s sake. Everything else about this game is perfection despite its brevity, but I want to stress that its length should not deter interested parties in the slightest. From the voice-acting to the writing, the graphics to the music, the mechanics to the mysteries themselves, Lucifer Within Us left me wanting more — something it would have done be it two hours long or 20.
Lucifer Within Us is a must-have for any fan of the detective genre. Adding a perfect mechanic like the timelines feature should be rewarded not only with player support but developer attention — I’d like to see this continued in future titles. Although Lucifer Within Us is short, it’s tight, the richness of the world offering an intoxicating taste that has me hooked. Lucifer Within Us is absolutely one of my top 10 titles of 2020, and if you love detective games, I’m positive you’ll unveil the truth that it’ll be one of yours as well. May Ain Soph guide you to get your copy of Lucifer Within Us today!
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Kitfox Games; Developer: Kitfox Games; Players: 1; Released: October 15, 2020; MSRP: $19.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Lucifer Within Us provided by the publisher.