In the same trend of grown-ups and growing up and growing down and childhood galore and what not, I remembered a game I have almost forgotten…
There is a very fine line between light and darkness. A line that gets even feebler if you add the reality-fiction duality. And sometimes, this tense line shatters and dreams flow richly into reality, dissolving the shadows in the creamy, sunny contrast. That’s when you have to face the world with lucidity, to let yourself dragged in the torrent of ideas, like the foamy shadows upon the surface of a black coffee. Dreams and reality are but facets of the same essential thing that matters in this life, the SELF.
I embraced Lucidity like the unknowing child I represent in this game. Sofi dreams herself between astronauts and fairies, living her dreams in the warm company of her knitting grandmother. Nana is everything, the beginning and the end of childhood, the universal still center of Sofi’s existence. But life is not a still state, but a process. In other words, things always have to change and the dream, the pure dream of innocence, gets contaminated by the vibes of maturity.
Alas, Lucidity is a game about growing up. Some would say that Lucidty talks a lot about death, others would argue that it talks about loneliness as a human condition. Whatever the case, as Nana disappears, Sofi’s childish universe shatters, and she begins a journey of initiation – of finding the lost balance. Sofi will soon get to know that it is the journey that matters, and not the destination.
Lucidity surprises its player with the uncanny combination of superficiality, deep meanings and disturbing existential concepts. The visual style, for example, reminds of children colouring books with their pastels and exaggeration of delicate geometry. However, behind the warm light, behind Sofi, a veritable Little Red Riding hood, violent brushes seem to hide all the fairytale baddies: the big bad wolf or Baba Yaga just to name a few. You get the disturbing feeling that this Lucid world is incomprehensible, that you’re swimming in a milky dream-like world that’s somehow intangible. And that is why players need to arm themselves with a lot of patience to fully experience Lucidity.
Gameplay wise, Lucidity is a simple platformer which reminds of good old Lemmings – stripped to its elementary pieces of course. Sofi mechanically walks forward, and you need to put different objects in her path, in order to save her from certain death. You start easy, with springs, ladders and bridges and will end up using fans, complicated contraptions and even superpowers that destroy the evil in her path. The aim of every level is to collect as many fireflies as possible. And at the end of every level, the supreme reward is a postcard from Nana, with some short life lessons. It’s not much and for some it’s even boring, because the number of objects available is pretty low. What players rarely realize that once they have unlocked new objects they can replay past levels and explore new areas using the new contraptions. Also, objects can be very creatively combined to collect all fireflies, which unlock additional challenges.
But Lucidity is also a frustrating game. For a game that looks so suitable for children, you will die and you will die a lot. Sofi is tossed in the dark holes, stabbed by the darkness, twisted in the fireflies’ chaotic ballet. So, as her only hope, you, the player, have to decide whether to try again or not. And it’s rarely easy, because the game is much too heavy with sense.
There’s not much to say about Lucidity. Explore it, then love it or hate it or forget it.