Was Agony too tame for you? Did Outlast 2 not feature enough genital mutilation for your tastes? Perhaps Amnesia: The Dark Descent felt about as shocking as putting on a wet sock? Well then, Lust For Darkness should satisfy just about every deeply twisted, perverted urge you have for a horror game where gratuitous sexual imagery is the focus. As long as you aren’t concerned about the game itself being any good, and aren’t after a particularly deep or intelligent narrative.
Lust For Darkness is the first game from Movie Games Lunarium, and while it’s got plenty going for it in terms of atmosphere and creative visuals, it’s lacking in almost every other respect. The story follows Jonathan, a man searching for his missing wife Amanda. His investigation leads him to a mysterious mansion owned by a bizarre sex cult who are enacting an ancient ritual to open a portal to a demented netherworld where sex and violence are interchangeable. Jonathan must escape the mansion, find his wife, and stop the ritual. It’s a serviceable and competently written narrative, but the writing does little to fully explore the taboo themes it centers around and it feels like one big wasted opportunity. Much like in Agony, it seems more like everything is just there for shock value, rather than to provide any kind of deeper commentary on the role of sex in society or act as a metaphor for sexual anxiety or addiction.
Likewise, gameplay is serviceable if not particular inspired. Combining elements of exploration, puzzle solving, and stealth, Lust For Darkness does little to differentiate itself from the swathe of indie horror games currently inundating Steam. Puzzles are for the most part simple and uninspired, and exploration involves interacting with basically everything in the mansion (including the admittedly impressive stash of sex toys the cultists keep in basically every cabinet) until you stumble across an item needed to progress the story. Stealth is downright broken. Noise seems to have no effect, meaning that crouching is pointless: You may as well just run past enemies when their back is turned because line of sight seems to be the only thing that matters.
Okay, okay, okay...I know what you really want to know: is the sexy stuff any good? Well, it’s definitely creative and horrific. But for those of you after some fap material: this isn’t a game for you to get your rocks off to. It’s dark, twisted, and genuinely unnerving in its imagery and atmosphere. From spiked sex toys to people being impaled on giant penises and tentacle orgies, this is first and foremost a horror game, not a VR porno. In terms of the game’s environments, the mansion is fairly bland (albeit littered with somewhat creepy decor), however the netherworld is beautifully detailed and extremely unsettling. It’s easily one of the most anxiety-inducing environments you’ll see in any horror game and is one of the few reasons to actually slog through the tedious gameplay. Combined with a great soundtrack, Lust For Darkness’ presentation is easily its selling point.
However, it all feels rather superficial and mostly just there to shock, and the reality is many horror gamers are starting to become desensitised to grotesque imagery. We need more than just gross, bizarre creatures, and horrific sexual monstrosities, no matter how creative they may be. We need thought-provoking, meaningful narratives. We need interesting, unique gameplay mechanics that don’t just exist to string us along from scary set piece to scary set piece. Great horror games aren’t just scary experiences: They’re entertaining to play, and their stories and themes make a point that sticks with you long after the credits roll. Lust For Darkness doesn’t manage to achieve either of those things and would have been better as a short film on the indie circuit.
Lust for Darkness (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
Beneath Lust For Darkness' great atmosphere and creative imagery lies a very average game.