Lust For Darkness is a hyper-sexual horror game featuring sex-crazed cults and different dimensions. Between these focal points and design references drawn from the Cthulhu Mythos, the project seems to be inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Unlike many similar games, Lust for Darkness casts the player into more uncomfortable situations than frightening ones, separating it from jump-scare titles. Alas, the inspired world can only bring the project so far due to interactions that leans heavily on generic horror experiences from the past, making getting through the underwhelming gameplay difficult.
The lack of tutorials is just the first way that the game refuses to hold the user’s hand. While objectives and tasks appear large on the screen then fade out, tutorials do not. Akin to another of the developer Movie Games’s in-production titles, The Beast Inside, the controls for interacting with the world require the user to click to hold an object, then move the mouse to manipulate it, which is imprecise and frustrating. Furthering the lack of direction, whether a room holds a puzzle is not made clear until an object is picked up and the player notices small text that tells them to interact with said object. Almost anything in the world not nailed down or oversized can be picked up and tumbled to see it in three dimensions. Being able to inspect objects in this way provides a better look at the lore by introducing odd statues that portray a bizarre domain of demons and cults.
The world is one of the title’s best elements, feeling peculiar and often alien. Lust For Darkness depicts a mysterious realm that players will want to know more about thanks to the presence of demonic relics, a cult, and a hidden dimension. Another great aspect is how Lust For Darkness distinguishes between two different environments : human and demon. The former is filled with earthy tones and a lifelike look, while the demon counterpart contains a more organic structure, using flesh-like textures and curves to build the walls, along with blue, purple, and red hues as the main colors. The statues and objects that relate to the latter continue the analogous color scheme, helping them to stand out among the more familiar environments and giving the feeling of demons crossing over. However, the game becomes too dark at points, as shadowy areas turn to pitch black; raising the brightness does not help because the colors wash out. Increasing the level of light would improve visibility, preventing users from straining their eyes trying to discern something that may or may not be present. Although the world is great, the poor lighting takes away from the presentation and makes the title unsettling, but not in the way horror should be.
The developers create disagreeable situations by incorporating scenes and situations that generate feelings of anger or discomfort. The opening involves a female escaping from a cell in a basement. After seeing a scary figure, the user is subjected to a situation that, while thankfully censored, is distressing due to the combination of allusion and audio. The situation takes the gamer out of their comfort zone in a new way—one that is not of fear as in most horror titles. Following this dark and unsettling experience, the game switches to a male protagonist in a bright house, providing a sense of security and contributing to a rollercoaster of emotions. Eventually, the protagonist acquires a letter that leaves them in a shocked emotional state. Through such scenarios, Lust for Darkness proves to be better at setting up discomforting scenarios than frightening ones. For example, when the player comes across their second demon, the encounter has no build-up. The monster is not foreshadowed in the section of the game, seemingly coming out of nowhere and feeling like it does not belong. Instead, Lust for Darkness has the potential to be unique among horror games by by building up the world and suspense rather than relying on the trope of jump scares
Sound is a powerful driver of emotion, but is even more important in horror experiences than elsewhere. If timed well, audio can alter a gamer’s heartbeat, but Lust For Darkness overuses sound, taking away from its impact. Nevertheless, the sound design still has hope as it is well-crafted and eerie, often making the player feel wary. An example of the noises being beaten to death is whenever a new objective or task appears, resulting in a long, suspenseful musical effect that stretches on to the point of being monotonous. This tune makes users expect a lurking enemy or for something to happen, giving a false sense of suspense and, later, detracting from the emotion. When the score is quiet or absent, it generates a lack of comfort that makes the player feel more alone and unprepared for the future. Horror titles such as Silent Hill use silence well to create a frightful situation, but Lust For Darkness does not follow such understated examples. Due to the abundance of music, the sounds start to lose impact and become comforting as a result of breaking the natural rhythm of the quiet moments. The audio design for the game works on the rare occasions it is used subtly, but loses effectiveness due to near-omnipresence, which contrasts against the underwhelming animations.
The visuals of Lust For Darkness leave much to be desired, particularly as a consequence of the animations being stiff and lacking character. In a title filled with sexual themes and scares, movement needs to sell the atmosphere, but the effort falls flat in this project. On one hand, the protagonist sometimes walks by people partaking in sexual acts. Far from seeming appealing, even in a voyeuristic sense, the characters seem almost mechanical. The sex portrayed features no emotion or physical responses. Instead, the animations are stiff, with minimal movement and overlapping animation. Furthermore, the patrolling enemies look generic, making them seem weak. Even when an enemy chases the player, it looks uninspired and lacks any personality that might make the game more terrifying. All in all, the animations need work to prevent Lust for Darkness from being generic. Given the project’s sexualized core, the animation should embrace those themes, rather than using them as set dressing.
In its current state, Lust For Darkness is not awful; it has mystery and a world filled with unexplained lore that can make it truly unique. Having surpassed its crowdfunding goal almost seven times over, many fans are expecting greatness, yet the project needs work to be remarkable. The world shows that the developers have great ideas, but the nuances are not yet present. If the player wants a horror title centered around lore and world design, the project is a solid choice, though it requires more time to achieve its desired effects.