Ruminations on robotics are hardly new. In 1939, Isaac Asimov began writing about the Positronic Brain, a reoccurring narrative device which endowed machines with human-like sentience. 1968’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was another seminal work where Philip K. Dick’s Replicants fought against a intentionally truncated lifespan. These and the myriad of similar science-fiction tales which explore automata are often fascinating because of the underlying premise- they place humans in the role of gods, creating life and observing the repercussions when the androids are given autonomy.
The protagonist in Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For- is the quintessential foil. Named You, he’s deeply troubled by the unchecked technological advancement across Korea. Set in the immediate future, the country’s fixation for androids is so intense that mountainous waste dumps comprised of discarded electronic scrap fills the cities’ interior. To shave a bit off his commute time and to circumvent the avenues of unbridled techno-fetishism, You frequently takes a shortcut through one of these junkyards.
While contemplating the magnitude of debris, he discovers an android crafted to look like a young girl. Save for a bit of grime, she’s seems to be in serviceable condition, signaling that she’s a discarded prototype or a perhaps a discard from the assembly line. When the junkyard’s resident drone takes notice of the intruder, You does the unlikely- feeling sentiment for the attractive android, taking her home for further study.
Back in You’s bedroom, the robot could have become fodder for sophomoric titillation. But, the title’s ambitions are bigger, with developer Modern Visual Arts Laboratory ambitions set on cultivating emotion and existential exploration. Expectedly, the relationship between the protagonist and the robot, named Lucy Valentine, is initially tense, as You struggles with providing power and obtaining repairs for the unit. Predictably, the care cultivates compassion with the schoolboy soon expressing empathy for the discarded android.
Anyone familiar with either Asimov or Dick’s work can guess what happens next, with the game’s Steam description foretelling Lucy’s emerging consciousness. But forecasting You’s character arc or Lucy’s future has little effect on the power of The Eternity She Wished For. In execution, the visual novel’s enjoyment doesn’t stem from painstakingly crafted reveals, but rather from the gradual accumulation of attachment you’ll feel for the two leads. Like the film Titanic, the expectation of tragedy only adds poignancy to the proceedings.
Pleasingly, Lucy’s presentation matches the quality of the storyline. Like any respectable visual novel, the title offers a dialog log, where readers can review any conversations that were skipped due to an errant key press. If you’re using a mouse, a spin of the scroll wheel instantly bring up the record, adding an indispensable feature to user interface. Beyond 120 save slots, in-game (non-Steam) achievements, the title also extends a CG gallery where readers can admire any unlocked images.
Aesthetically, The Eternity She Wished For is an unmitigated success. Visually, the game’s artwork reveals an indulgent attention to detail, both in backdrops and character design. Although portraits don’t exhibit a large quantity of expressions, the title expresses its emotion through monologues and conversations that are a shade better than most visual novels. Subtle effects, such as the movement of character sprites or different font sizes help to invoke a bit of energy into the storyline. Largely, the localization is competent, with only the sporadic instance of grammatical gaffe. Aurally, the Korean and Japanese voice acting is through stirring, with both actresses offering a faultless delivery.
It takes about seven hours to view one of Lucy The Eternity She Wished For’s multiple endings. While the conclusions can be foreseen by sci-fi fans, the experience is more about the journey rather than reaching the destination. Considering the novel’s reasonable ten dollar price tag, Lucy is recommended to anyone seeking a pensive plotline that will resonate long after your monitor is turned off.
Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For- was played on PC with review code provided by the publisher.
Developer: Modern Visual Arts Laboratory
Publisher: Modern Visual Arts Laboratory
Release date: February 26th, 2016
Price: $9.99 via Steam