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A nice little gem of a game with some very frustrating puzzles.

  • Trihan
  • 07/10/2009 04:57 AM
So why are you reviewing this?
I decided to try Lexico after seeing a couple of people talking about it on IRC. I've always been a sucker for foreign languages, cryptic messages, secret codes and the like, so this sounded right up my alley. And for the most part, it was.

The lowdown
Lexico begins fairly simply, with the player assuming the role of a tiny spaceman after a little bit of expository narrative which explains that you're stuck here and need to decipher a number of alien glyphs to get the hell outta dodge. And so, on to adventure!

What the hell happened?
To be honest there isn't very much story here. And that's not a bad thing; Lexico is evidently all about the gameplay and it works to its advantage. I didn't really need to know who my little spaceman was or why he ended up here or where he came from or what the hippies were doing in the factory. There are little tidbits of story presented throughout and some which I think are entirely optional, but all in all it has just enough story not to be boring and not so much that it overshadows the main focus. I was disappointed with the ending, though.

How pretty was it?
Graphically the game works. Though there is some disparity between the spaceman sprite and the hippies that populate the space colony, I have read that this was a misunderstanding on the part of the sprite artist so I can forgive it. The tilesets were functional and it was clear what everything was supposed to be. My only real gripe is that occasionally I'd see an area it looked like I should be able to get to but couldn't, and another occasion where I missed an entire room because the path looked like it was blocked off with crates when it wasn't. I would have appreciated a little more consistency with where I could and couldn't walk, but it wasn't a huge deal.

What stuff can I do?
The first room of the game already contains 4 of the 39 glyphs you can decipher, and those 4 are extremely easy to figure out, giving a nice easy slope on the difficulty curve. From that point, though, as you are given free reign to wander about the complex as you please (as long as you don't encounter a locked door) it rapidly becomes a lot harder as you try to find snatches of information that will unlock the secret of another glyph for you.

That's not to say it's particularly challenging figuring out what each glyph does per se, but the fact that there are no clearly defined meanings for any of them leave the deciphering truly up to the player, and if you miss a vital glyph or incorrectly define one that makes you think you've solved a puzzle when you haven't...you're kind of up the creek without a paddle.

Without being too spoilery for those who haven't had the pleasure of trying Lexico for themselves, I ran into this problem myself on several occasions. There was one particular instance where I found that completion of an integral puzzle relied on correctly deciphering the meaning of a particular glyph, which would then give you another glyph that doesn't appear anywhere else in the factory. Unfortunately, there is a minor bug I chanced to encounter that meant a vital piece of information wasn't given to me when it should have been, which made it much harder to figure out what the glyph I was meant to be translating meant. (have I confused you yet?)

The other problem was mistranslation, or translating a glyph as something ROUGHLY equivalent to what it was intended to be, but resulting in my definition closing off possible uses for a glyph that you wouldn't necessarily consider with your own assignment. I did this a couple of times, and though NPC dialogue gave me a little prod in the right direction it wasn't quite enough to lift the fog from my brain on some occasions.

Of course, not all of the glyphs need to be deciphered in order to finish the game, as long as you can figure out a few key ones the rest aren't really needed, but there was definitely a palpable sense of satisfaction when I finally saw a button with nothing but green glyphs on it (indicating that I had assigned a sentence to them - not necessarily the right one.)

Did your ears bleed?
There weren't really any memorable themes in the soundtrack, but what was there worked remarkably well and gave an eerie mechanical ambience to the whole thing. A lot of clicks, whirrs and beeps, all of which fit well. Nothing out of place, nothing to write home about.

Final thoughts
All in all, I vastly enjoyed Lexico and I dearly hope that a sequel of some kind is made on a slightly longer deadline with a bit more polish and just a few more nudges towards puzzle solutions.

Scores (out of a possible 5)
Story - 2
Graphics - 3
Gameplay - 4
Sound - 3
Bonus for making a game about one of my favourite gameplay concepts in the universe - 5

Overall score - 4/5