Lust For Darkness puts you in control of Jonathan Moon, in a story that you have definitely seen before, just not with all the eroticism surrounding it. Jonathan receives a letter from his missing wife, who has been gone for around a year. You head off to an isolated mansion, named Yelverton Manor, that is inspired by Victorian architecture and decorated with lots of rather suggestive looking devices. The works of the writer, H. P. Lovecraft, inspire the whole world. He was well known for writing horror fiction, often with a very forbidden and dark theme.
Playing from a first-person perspective, I think it is safe to say that Lust For Darkness was heavily inspired by the Amnesia series of games – which is no bad thing. You only really have to play the game for a few minutes to see some of the similarities. Just like Amnesia – and many other horror games nowadays, such as Outlast – you will find that from the off, you are defenceless, meaning that once you have been seen by something you don’t want to be seen by, you need to run or hide.
There is no way to fight back against anything in the game, which is no bad thing. As I have said before, this kind of mechanic does have many benefits in a horror setting, especially when it comes to creating a helplessness feeling. You simply feel much more vulnerable, so you will start naturally feeling on edge. Other parallels with Amnesia will smack you square in the face. Opening drawers and doors works in the exact same way. Staring at certain things for too long will cause your screen to go all funky, as if you’re character is going a bit crazy.
Returning to the running/stealth part for a moment. When you are seen and start running away, you will be greeted with some heavy breathing behind you to indicate something is on your tail and you really should not stop. This is genuinely terrifying the first couple of times it happens, but later realise that as long as you’re pushing up on the control stick, nothing will catch you. What you will also find, is even if you are in a semi-open space and running away, the heavy breathing can just disappear at random, as if it’s programmed into the game that you will escape no matter what if you run a certain distance. I am not sure if this was intentional or not but it certainly ruined the whole illusion.
There is also the option to use stealth mechanics to hide from foes. It works okay enough for what it is, but it isn’t the best. To be frank, I wasn’t looking for Splinter Cell levels of stealth mechanics or anything, but I did find it all a tad tedious. When you have played other horror games like Outlast and experienced a stealth system that works a lot better, it emphasises the difference in quality.
When it comes to puzzle-solving, there isn’t really any of them within the game will make you scratch your head or applaud them for being particularly clever. I might be slightly harsh, but it is all very beginner levels of puzzle-solving. On the other hand, sometimes you may find yourself at a bit of a dead-end in terms of what to do, which can be slightly annoying as there isn’t really any indication as to what to do next.
As already mentioned briefly at the start, this game features many sexual themes, including nudity and suggestions of sexual assaults. So beware, if anything like that offends you, then this really isn’t the game for you. It really goes all out with the sexual tones in sections; it’s littered with the stuff! It is certainly not a game you should be playing in the same room as your parents, that’s for sure. Having said that, you do have to somewhat commend the developers to stick to their guns when it comes to the theme, whether you agree with it or not. It loses its shock value after the first hour or so, however. You do not find games like this very often, which is why it is something that needs addressing in a review.
Lust For Darkness does come in at the shorter end of the spectrum in terms of time to completion, with only around 2 hours worth of gameplay to be found in total. There is no real need for a second playthrough either, unless you absolutely fell in love with it and had to play it again right away.
On Nintendo Switch, the game is blighted somewhat with slowdown in sections that would otherwise seem like there is not a whole lot going on. It also suffers from low resolution, making certain parts look a bit blurry. The games brightness is also an issue and even when putting the brightness slider all the way up, it still felt very unclear, dim and was quite hard to see certain things.
Overall, I feel like Lust For Darkness suffered from a slight identity crisis. It’s part-walking simulator, part-hiding simulator, part-puzzle solver and a whole lot of Amnesia. It didn’t really know what it wanted to be and I came away feeling it could have nailed a few more of its elements better, had it stuck to one principle gameplay element, rather than be bang average in a whole load of them. In addition, given the size of the game, it never had the chance to fully realise any of its gameplay elements. It simply tried to cram too much in.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SimFabric