The android heroine is not something that we see all that often in visual novels. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Planetarian and Trinoline, the latter of which I reviewed around this time last year. From my experience, most stories that go this route (not just VNs) tend to be those that aim for the feels, and Lucy is no exception. However, the question is: can Lucy achieve this within its super short runtime?
Nice character designs and voice acting. I was actually surprised to learn that this was a Korean visual novel. Usually, any VN outside of Japan has a distinct art style to it, but Lucy pretty much nails that traditional visual novel aesthetic. There are only a few character designs in the game, but they are all pretty well-done, with good color choices and an overall look that perfectly matches the game’s setting. This holds especially true for the robot heroine, who has some equally nice voice acting to match. This voice acting can even be swapped to and from Korean and Japanese. She may be the only voiced character in the game, but at least they did a great job with it.
Fun character interactions. Although Lucy may suffer from some major writing issues (which I’ll get into shortly), it does at least have some nice character interactions. Specifically, I mean between the protagonist and the android heroine. From the random little comedy bits to the story scenes that shed light on the overall plot, it was interesting to see these two interact. Especially so because the protagonist is one that hates androids and the android must follow his every command. They’re complete opposites, yet are the driving force behind the overall story, which makes for some interesting interactions at times.
Subpar overall writing. The main problem with Lucy is that, put simply, it’s not written that well. A lot of this can be seen with regards to the game’s characters (which I’ll get into later), but there are several other areas to note. Take for example the game’s philosophical themes. Given that this is a story heavily reliant on the whole “android vs. human” narrative, the concept of what makes someone a human is bound to come up. The problem here is that Lucy not only brings up the concept numerous times, but slaps you in the face with it without ever giving more than a surface level look at it.
I can’t count how many times the game brought up the question “do androids have feelings?” and then proceeded to leave it at just that. It’s a worthwhile debate for sure, but the game simply does not explore it beyond a simple “no, they’re robots” or “yes, they’re just as human as me”. Of course, that’s not the exact wording, but that’s pretty much what it ends up as. It’s as basic as you can get and does not do the game any favors given how heavily it weighs on such concepts.
Similar problems can be seen when considering the game’s three laws of robotics. These basically state that 1. a robot cannot injure a human, 2. a robot must obey orders from its master as long as it does not violate the first law, and 3. a robot must protect its own existence as long as it does not violate laws 1 or 2. These laws are repeated every time the scene changes, so you’ll end up seeing them a couple dozen times over the course of the game. Surely being shown these laws so often must have some sort of story meaning, but as you’ll find out after completing the game, they simply do not. There was no point in their inclusion and really all they do is introduce a major plot hole. Really, I’m just disappointed that the game took such interesting themes and didn’t do anything with them.
Poorly written characters. Whereas a lot of VNs suffer problems from being overly long and drawn out, Lucy has the opposite issue: it’s simply too short for any meaningful character development to take place. You’re introduced to these characters, watch some of their interactions for the next four hours, and then the game is over just like that. It’s not like it felt rushed, but rather that the character development that was there was either not strong enough to carry the overall story or simply felt too unrealistic. By the time I got to the end of the game, I hardly had a reason to care for any of these characters, killing much of the impact that the story was aiming to have.
I’ll use the protagonist as an example here, and I’ll try to avoid spoilers outside of what is already described on the store page. He starts out the story hating androids, has for most of his life due to this father’s influence. Yet somehow, within just a couple in-game weeks, has a complete personality shift and is now asking that very question I mentioned before: “do androids have feelings?”. I expected at least some degree of change here given that the game is tagged as having “drastic character development” on VNDB, but it was taken to the extreme here, losing all sense of realism that the character may have had.
And then you have the father, who felt like he was written into the game solely to serve as a vessel for hate and a source of conflict for the story. The reasoning behind his actions is not really explored beyond his simple “humans are superior to androids” belief, which again, damages the overall story, especially once you get towards the end. There are some other major issues with the game’s characters (including the android heroine), but describing those would require some massive spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Numerous technical issues. Lucy is an indie visual novel and unfortunately, it shows when you get into the technical side of things. From the barebones settings menu to the complete lack of basic VN features like auto-mode, there’s a lot missing that I would usually expect in a VN. There’s no borderless window option, no font options, no rebindable controls, and even no ability to resize the game window. The game must either be played in a window locked at 720p or a fullscreen that just resizes your entire monitor resolution instead of simply resizing the game.
Then there’s the audio issues. For some reason, the volume slider for background music does not seem to work properly. Whenever a new track starts playing, it plays at its full volume, regardless of what you have set in the settings. Touching this setting again while the track is playing fixes it, but the problem comes back as soon as another track plays, it’s quite annoying. I ended up having to adjust the entire game volume through Windows to avoid having to do this. Outside of those, I did find it a bit odd that the game has no Steam achievements, yet has in-game achievements, but at least that doesn’t affect the experience like the other issues.
The art and character interactions may be nice, but Lucy still fails in several major areas, delivering an overall visual novel experience that simply doesn’t have the impact it was aiming for. From the lack of depth in its story themes to its poorly written characters, there’s a lot working against what makes these kinds of stories work. Couple that with the numerous technical issues and you have a VN that’s very hard to recommend, especially so for fans of the medium. I could see it as a decent introductory VN, but otherwise you’re better off looking elsewhere.
You can buy Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For- on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.