Lucidity would simply be about grief and loss if it were a book or a movie. The protagonist, Sofi, is a young girl who loses her grandmother and then determinedly journeys to find her while struggeling to come to terms with her death. Lucidity is a not passive linear media, however, but instead is a game, and its specific gameplay is very much about quick thinking and adaptation, as the player is asked to help Sofi navigate constantly changing environments using a continually randomized set of tools.
These themes from story and gameplay seem to be oddly paired, especially at first. As the game begins, and Sofi starts marching forward on her own, the player is taught how to use certain tools to keep her safe until she reaches the end of the environment. Sofi is not entirely helpless (she’ll climb up small rises with ease), and the game might look much like it belongs in the platformer genre when viewed from a distance, albeit one that plays itself. If left alone, however, Sofi will die, and on later levels, die often, falling victim to giant enemies and treacherous falls. It will be up to you to keep her away from those living dust bunnies and spiky pits by placing things like staircases, fans and slingshots in her path, enabling her to jump and climb past danger.
Lucasarts described Lucidity as a “challenging puzzler,” and, well, I agree. The puzzle to be solved is fairly straightforward: get Sofi to the end of the level safely, navigating through a sometimes dangerous environment and around always dangerous creatures. I think it is important to point out that this particular puzzler does not derive its challenge from obscure solutions or mind-twisting scenarios; indeed, the game thrives on offering the player a multitude of solutions at any given moment. If the ground is covered in deadly plants, you might slingshot Sofi past them, build stairs to let her climb over them, place a jump pad to let her climb to a higher level of platforms, or bomb the plants out of existence. All of these actions would probably work with some degree of success. The challenge lies in choosing the best solution with the current tools available, and then in implementing the solution before Sofi runs into danger. The time pressure makes the relatively straightforward problem solving thrilling.
Lucidity deals with is treatment of grief by cleverly separating the bereaved character from the player, casting the player as the one helping the main character through her pain. The player must continually adapt while the playing field and pieces change, as Sofi must learn to adapt to the concept of death. The symbolic journey does falter a bit toward the end as the narrative pulls apart from the gameplay, unfortunately.
There are a few technical quirks that impact the experience enough that they bear mentioning. Because gameplay essentially involves placing level pieces on a grid, a gamepad offers a smoother experience here compared to a mouse (having a mouse cursor constantly snapping to a grid is an alien and unnerving sensation).