Lust From Beyond Review – Not Very Pleasurable
Developed by Movie Games Lunarium
Published by PlayWay
Available on PC
Sex is always a super tricky subject in video games. Half the time attempts to portray it come off as childish. The other half it’s gross. Few games have attempted to tackle the subject with any sort of serious look, but the Lust series is one of them. In 2018 Lust for Darkness gave it a shot, and after not one but two free prequels, Lust From Beyond is looking to follow it up. I ended up playing through all four games one after another, and I can safely say that I am sexed out, even if I had some fun along the way.
Before starting this review, I want to note that it’s probably important you play not only the original game, but both Prologue and Scarlet as well. Those three games all tie into Beyond, even if at times it doesn’t quite make sense. In fact, the events of Prologue seem to be both canon and non-canon, with the game kind of picking the parts it wants to keep and throwing out the parts it doesn’t. It’s rather bizarre to see characters that rather explicitly, and sometimes brutally, died in Prologue suddenly be around like nothing happened because the developers thought it’d just be more interesting that way I guess.
Either way, you play as Victor Holloway, a sex-obsessed man who runs an antique shop. Victor suffers from nightmares of an extremely weird and otherworldly realm known as Lusst’ghaa. One night, while making love with his girlfriend Lily, he finds himself back in Lusst’ghaa and in response lashes out, hitting Lily in the process. At this point Victor begins to seek professional help for his problems, including trying out a doctor named Austerlitz. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before Victor finds himself in a war between two cults and constantly ending up back in Lusst’ghaa.
This basic set up works well enough to get you from place to place. It’s pretty clear the writers are interested in giving Lusst’ghaa, and the many cults obsessed with it, quite a bit of lore. However, the story has several points that felt like they wanted to just find violent ways to kill people. Worse, the game has a really unfortunate relationship with gay characters. For the vast majority of the game, any sex scene is either between straight or lesbian characters, and meant to be sexy, or between a man and a monster with female gentiles, which is meant to be horrible. The only gay characters are a pair of villains, one of whom rapes the main character. It gives this super crummy “gay people are scarier than monsters” feeling, and the game doesn’t portray a consensual gay sex scene for the purpose of pleasure until chapter 13, of 16.
Unfortunately, this tainted quite a bit of my perception of the events in the game. I’m not sure that the developers were specifically going for this, but it certainly felt kind of gross.
When it comes to gameplay, Beyond has some noticeable improvements over the original and prequels. The game is more of a full horror game, instead of feeling like a walking simulator where sometime scary stuff pops out. You’ll get items in your inventory that you’ll use to solve puzzles, sneak around monsters, and occasionally participate in combat. Yes, combat, the newest feature to the series. Early on Victor gets a knife, allowing him to partake in super clunky melee combat that absolutely should be used as a last resort and nothing else.Eventually you do also get a revolver, and at that point Beyond leans a bit heavier into action horror.
This is, honestly, an upgrade. The game’s stealth simply isn’t really that great and not worth the amount of effort I felt like I was putting into it. There’s even some clever moments, like a pair of boss fights that required you not to just shoot the target, but find objects in the environment that will assist you. While it’s certainly still pretty basic, and almost every enemy in the game’s only attack is to run up and smack you, it shows what could be and it feels like there’s something much better waiting for another sequel.
It feels like every good idea in the game needs an asterisk next to it, noting that in practice it didn’t turn out that great. One great example is that you have two health bars: a physical health bar and a mental one. Your physical health goes down when you’re hurt, and should it run out you die, obviously. However, your mental health goes down when you see something disturbing. As your mental health drops your vision starts to wobble, and eventually, should you lose it completely, your controls will randomly reverse. The idea is fine, but the reality is that in the early game you lose mental health all the time and, once you lose a single block, you’re constantly playing with the equivalence of drunk goggles on.
There’s plenty of things in Beyond that it feels like I can say the same about. There’s an upgrade system where you can find favors from the gods of Lusst’ghaa, but all the upgrades are worthless and since you can spend several hours not in Lusst’ghaa they’re few and far in between. You can find essence which you’ll use to interact with some elements in Lusst’ghaa to solve puzzles, but for the most part that just means simple quick time events. Speaking of, the Steam page makes a big deal about interactive sex scenes, but these too are just simple quick time events. There’s hidden collectables that if you find enough of you can unlock cases for special items, but the rewards for finding these aren’t actually that useful.
I know this all sounds dire, but honestly there’s still some interesting stuff to be found in Beyond. I certainly had a pretty good time exploring the environments. It felt like a twisted H.R. Giger hellscape, clearly taking a lot of inspiration from his works. Just getting a chance to roam around and look at the world was well worth it. Even when you’re not in Lusst’ghaa, the environments look great. The town of Bleakmore certainly feels bleak, and I loved that there was a lot of little things that I could find and wouldn’t give me anything, but felt like strange spots in weird towns.
I just wish that Lust From Beyond was a better game. Every time it felt like something was about to get better, the game fell on its face. Sure I still think it’s worth playing through, not everything is a total disaster, but most of the time the only lust I had was for a better game.