A beatiful art style is not enough.
There's no denying that Lucidity is a beautiful game. It started out as a side project among developers at LucasArts and quickly evolved into a full-fledged Xbox Live Arcade release, combining the frantic pace of a Lemmings game with the strategic and luck-of-the-draw play of Tetris. The result is a heart-tearing disconnect between a thoughtfully designed art style and actual gameplay.
[image1]Lucidity revolves around a tale of loss and how a little girl, Sofi, copes with it. Her vivid memory and imagination help her create dream-like environments in which she travels oh-so slowly, and you must protect her. Sofi's movement is mostly out of your control as she carelessly collects fireflies fluttering about each level. The only way you can interact with her is by laying down items - fans, slingshots, ramps and even bombs - that have a host of uses but are mainly there to direct Sofi in the right direction. Bombs have the double use of being both a defense mechanism and a way to clear a path; Sofi's dreams are haunted by monsters as well as many obstacles and hazards.
Just like Tetris, you are given a different item at random with a peek at the next one on the stack. You can save your current piece and use the next item in line, which is a welcome mechanic but does not save you from frustration. At some points, you just run out of options and are forced to restart the level.
The simple nature of this randomness is Lucidity's main problem throughout the entire story mode. As levels progress, more dangers creep up on the slowly moving Sofi, as the screen not only continuously scrolls, but also kills her with a venom-like fog. Some of the later designs also add obstructions that cannot be destroyed in any way, making you suffer a lot of trial and error in the latter half of the game.
[image2]The aforementioned fireflies act as a currency that unlocks bonus stages, and serve as the game's replay incentive. Most levels require more than one play-through to clear them of collectibles.
All of these gameplay problems are a shame because Lucidity is a gorgeous-looking game. Its presentation hits all the right notes, with an incredible art style and detail in every nook and cranny. Blots of paint and different palettes of colors cover each and every level, cut-scene, and character with a simplistic and elegant art direction. The music isn't far behind, with whimsical and sometimes sad tunes that chug along with the game at a steady pace.
It's a crying shame such a wonderful art design isn't followed by enjoyable gameplay. The mix between the Lemmings style of indirect character control and the randomness of Tetris-esque puzzle pieces reads great on paper, but fails here in execution due to how little time there is to react and the sheer luck of the draw. There's a great, innocent tale to experience in Lucidity, available for 800 Microsoft Points ($10) on Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace, but it isn't enjoyable enough as a game to play through in order to live it. Great art can only go so far in a game without good gameplay to accompany it.