Visual novels are an odd genre. They seem counter-intuitive to the point of video games in general. But even if it's not completely interactive, it can still be entertaining with a good story, right? I think so. Lux-Pain, however, gets way too much wrong to be of any value.
Lux-pain has an awesome concept. A series of strange murders strike a small japanese town, and your oddly grey-haired 17-year-old protagonist must fight the darkness within people's hearts using a special power in order to stop the murders. All while living a typical high school life... yeah, that hopefully sounds familiar to any JRPG fan with a PS2 that they've touched since 2008. To be fair, Persona 4 came out the same year as this.
Your character has the ability to see and read "Shinen." Shinen are manifestations of people's thoughts that are created when they feel a strong emotion. However, there are creatures called "Silent" which inhabit people's minds and can drive them to crime and suicide. the town Kisaragi faces the risk of a Silent infestation. ("BROTHER!!!" all I can think of is Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue) It's your job to find and eliminate the original silent, until then, no one is safe.
Gameplay is all too simple. you scratch at the screen to reach into "the mental world" and remove shinen by holding down on them with the stylus. That's it. Well, except reading shinen on people (instead of places or objects) involves a health bar that decreases as you scratch at them. When you fight silent, it is a bit more complex. At first it's almost like a rhythm game, tapping circles as they light up (if you played Elite Beat Agents, it's like that, and I'm very proud of you) after that it actually gets almost too hectic with you needing to break down its defenses. I get repeatedly tapping this shield thing, but there's one type where you need to grab the corners of the nodes (which needs an almost impossible amount of accuracy) and drag each to a corner of the screen. Fortunately, you can continue from the start of the fight if you lose.
What really murders this game though? Story-telling and localization:
Linear story and lots of dialogue is one thing. But badly paced story and lots of really bad dialogue is another. Scrolling through dialogue is 90% of this game. 2% is actually doing something, and 8% is trying to figure out what the hell anyone is saying. But hey, Silent Hill has crap dialogue, but the stories are amazing (most of them). Lux-Pain's plot had serious potential, but the only reason it's longer than 5 hours is these blasted subplots you go through at the school you're going to for some reason. I understand the character has to blend in, but that doesn't mean I have to get involved with all the blasted subplots going on. Each day takes about a solid hour, and about 5 minutes of that is spent on the main plot.
The localization is awful for a number of reasons. The grammar is really bad sometimes and it also messes things up like referring to a man as "she" or a woman as "he." It also doesn't realize how quotation marks work and further confuses me when a character says something that someone else said. Then there's the voiced dialogue. It almost NEVER matches up with the text on screen, at least not completely. One of the strangest moments is when your assistant at fort says she wanted to visit America and see L.A., but the text says she wants to visit Japan and see a very japanese-sounding city. That and a couple of scenes will have only one character that's voiced talking to someone who isn't. The other strange moment is a reference to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," when a character is looking for a book called "Terror and Hatred in L.A." You make a reference like THAT and you don't know your pronouns?
Oh, and if you were hoping for some kind of investigation aspect, even though the game's box says "examine crime scenes with your stylus," all you really do is look at shinen left behind by the culprit and victim. there's zero difference between that and regular gameplay.
Lux-Pain had a great idea. It probably wouldn't have made a bad manga or anime, with a more focused plot. But in game form, its story's flaws are even more apparent and bad localization ruin what little quality is left. Full disclosure: I only played the first three quarters of the game. If there's anything redeemable that late in the game, I can guarantee you won't care by then.
Come to think of it, why am I even going to high school in this? It seems completely arbitrary. I'm an agent for a freaking supernatural government organization. Are they really paying me to spend half of my day in a classroom when there's a modern-day demon on the loose? It's like if there were a game about an exorcist, but you had to spend more than half of the game saying mass and doing regular priest stuff. (There's a pedophile joke in there. I'm not touching it)