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Lust for Darkness (PC) artwork

Lust for Darkness (PC) review

"Yet another standard horror walking simulator (now with more humping)"

Lust for Darkness (PC) image

Eroticism and horror aren't strangers. Your average '80s or '90s fright flick is bound to include at least one steamy scene or an ounce of suggestive material, while other stories march full bore into exploring human sexuality and erotic concepts (e.g. the movies "Vampyres" and "Fascination"). It's no surprise that erotic horror would eventually pop up in game form, especially since interactive horror has exploded over the last decade. Recently, the first-person adventure title Lust for Darkness crept onto the scene, promising to deliver equal doses of terror and titillation.

Picture this: a walking simulator where you play a man named Jonathan following a lead on his missing wife (Amanda), which takes him to a peculiar mansion on the night of an occult ritual. As part of the festivities, the cultists involved put on monster and animal masks and mingle for a few hours. When the time is right, they tear their clothes off, gather in the basement and bone like there's no tomorrow. We're not talking about an orgy with censored splotches or leaves covering up the nudity, either, as Lust for Darkness doesn't hold back on its sexual content.

This scene only lasts a few minutes, and then the campaign beckons you onward. From then on, the erotic elements mostly manifest as the occasional naked corpse or sexual/strange sculptures. Some of these works of art consist of classic nudes or couples in the throes. Others, though, arrest you for a moment so you can take in all of their horrific, weird majesty. You can't help but gawk when you run into a giant penis with human legs or a demonic woman with a couple dozen breasts.

Lust for Darkness (PC) image

However, this experience never fully explores sexual themes the way a well-built erotic horror piece should. Instead, it settles on views of a few orgies, pieces of art and a few toys lying in random drawers. None of this content bears much meaning, and it comes off as material intended to shock rather than to further a sexually-driven narrative. On the other hand, the inclusion of such moments doesn't drag the adventure's quality down, per se. If nothing else, the material is proof positive that the developer made good on its word and didn't wimp out or tone down the product. I can respect that.

Once you subtract the above erotic elements, though, you're left with a bland "creepy old house" game and tepid storytelling at best. For starters, Jonathan is a dull, basic protagonist who's nothing more than a husband, while Amanda is a similarly shallow damsel. Jonathan's motivation is simply that he's married to Amanda and is thus duty-bound to rescue her. We learn little about them as a couple, and the game provides players few reasons to invest in them. If you don't care about the main characters of a horror story, then you don't fear for them, either.

Yeah, I understand that it makes sense for a person to save their loved one from peril. However, that motivational device is well past worn out, and only works for the most basic titles. If a writer insists upon using it, their best bet is to give the audience a reason to give a damn. For instance, the 2006 South Korean film "The Host" wasn't just about a man and his siblings saving his daughter from an immense monster. The opening sequence showed us their family life and why his daughter is important to them, providing viewers with a reason to root for the protagonist in his efforts. Lust for Darkness, however, begins with "Well, I guess I'll go save my wife now, because that's what husbands do."

Lust for Darkness (PC) image

Hell, by the end of the campaign, I didn't care if the couple survived and had a healthy relationship afterward. Jonathan repeatedly offers up soliloquies throughout the tale. That makes for a ham-fisted narrative brimming with awkward, stilted lines, plus it paints our hero more of as an annoyance than a likable character. Sadly, the script doesn't improve when other characters add to the discussion, either. Everyone belts out sentences that no one would say outside of the 19th century.

Even when Jonathan doesn't speak his thoughts aloud, the campaign is hit-or-miss. On one hand, you visit some pretty neat H.R. Giger-inspired environments in the alien dimension, complete with wondrous bits of architecture and creepy designs. One puzzle involves a door you must open, with a network of walkways and brains protruding from the walls. If you walk past a brain, the door shuts and you must begin the section over again. The key is to discover the path leading to the door without tripping it security mechanism, kind of like a maze.

A few other sections require careful observation. For instance, you need to locate a pad lock code during one challenge, which you accomplish by examining items in your vicinity until you discover one with the combination scrawled on it. Of course, the digits aren't in plain sight, so you need to pick up a few objects and turn them over a few times. Other segments in the alien realm force you to wear one of two creepy masks. One of them reveals hidden pathways, while another nullifies enemy aggro. However, you need to limit the amount of time you don these items, as they slowly drive you insane with prolonged use.

Lust for Darkness (PC) image

Unfortunately, you also engage in a lot of horror game cliches, such as sections where you elude foes and a couple of stealth segments. The former of these only crops up a few times and is basic in execution. Now and then a demon appears that ceaselessly chases you, and you only need to run around a small area until you locate an exit. Easy-peasy, and not the least bit frightening.

Stealth only appears once in full form, near the beginning of the campaign. You traipse through the manor's elegant frontage while cultists guard the grounds. As soon as a foe spots you, it's game over and you must begin the segment again. And believe me, they will find you often. The pathway you must travel is tight and demands a lot of trial and error. Whole cliques of party-goers stand in groups, preventing you from covering much ground. In other areas, patrolling enemies spot you with ease or see you out of the corner of their eyes. With enough practice and a mountain of patience, you might eventually wander into the correct area, assuming you don't put your fist through your screen first.

For three hours, you wander somewhat eerie, but mostly toothless halls, experiencing familiar frights. For three hours, you catch glimpses of sexual creativity that fail to stave off the tedium that comes with playing your thousandth creepy house simulator. For three hours, you guide a one-dimensional character on a quest to rescue his similarly boring wife. Lust for Darkness may feature some bold content, but it's ultimately just your garden variety interactive horror tale, except with more screwing and nudity.

Oh, and gory, inter-species sex. That's important.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (August 13, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Zydrate posted August 17, 2018:

Had my eye on this one alongside Agony but it seems I'll be skipping both. I have something against walking sims in general, as they're just so damned boring. Point and click adventure games with no adventure and are just glorified graphic novels but with botched stealth/flee mechanics shoved in there to actually make it a 'game'. Seems none of these types of things can really figure out what they want to be.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted August 18, 2018:

Yeah, the sub-genre is still kind of young, but too many games retread concepts that didn't work the first time (without improving upon them) or just copy-paste other games. Sometimes they're more narrative-heavy and not so interactive, but other times they throw out puzzles or something like that. It's rare to find one that nails fleeing, and even fewer seem to know how to handle stealth.

Thanks for reading!

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