By reading this first sentence, you admit one thing about yourself: you must be interested in video games. Otherwise, why would you be reading a review for a little-known Nintendo DS game? By admitting you are interested in games, you also admit that you've probably played your fair share. We, as gamers, all know the heights of joy that come with playing a great game, and the pits of despair delved when firing up a horrible one (see the latest GameFly commercial for a hilarious look at the aftereffects of playing a bad one). Those two polar emotions are what make reviewing Lux Pain so difficult. After playing all the way through this bizarre, barely localized Japanese point-and-click text adventure, I have absolutely no idea whether what I had just played was a masterpiece, a cruel joke, a train wreck, a compelling story or some mix of all those things. Lux Pain is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest games I've ever had the pleasure (or displeasure?) to experience and review. If that sounds interesting, read on; I'll do my damnedest to bring you up to speed and offer an opinion on what was the gaming equivalent to spending a weekend in the spaced-out shoes of Hunter S. Thompson. In another language. With no subtitles. In space.
If my synopsis of the game's "plot" makes no sense, it isn't because I'm a bad writer; the game really just makes this little sense. My best guess is that Lux Pain has you playing as an investigator or secret agent type character that is on the hunt for mysterious brain worms that have infected a good segment of the population. But rather than a gun, knife or a comprehensible plot, Lux Pain forces you to use the DS stylus to discover these worms and remove them from the infected people around you. As promising as that sounds, the game informs you that to get to the worms, you must pose as a high school kid… for no reason at all. And that's just the beginning. It gets a lot weirder.
From that strange setup, the game becomes a text-based, point and click adventure where you'll need to talk to various folks around a number of locations to figure out who has the worms. You'll start to spot the infected almost immediately, and then you'll need to play a little stylus game in which you tap the worm and hold the stick on it until the host is freed of the parasite. I realize that things still sound like they have the makings of a fun and interesting adventure here, but if you choose to try the game out, you'll see just how wrong that assumption is.
What I've given you in this review is the most coherent breakdown of the plot you'll get – the game isn't clear on any of this stuff; even the description of the packaging is a total mystery. Stranger yet is the fact that the game will bounce you from person to person, situation to situation with no explanation as to why you are talking with the folks you are and if there is anything they have whatsoever to do with the overarching story. You'll run across just about every weirdo in the book, too; drunk kids, perverted elders, anime stereotypes, horned up girls… all the strangest of this game's society will have some part to play… and good luck figuring out just what parts those are. I couldn't.