Game review on
Clinton Raethel / Tue 5th Dec 2017
21 views / 1 bite
OVERVIEW As a love letter to the late 80's/early 90's pop culture scene, Lumo is as much of a homage as it is a game. It thoroughly rewards exploration and experimentation, but whether that reward balances the deliberately archaic design depends entirely on you.
STORYLINE You are a child attending an open day of sorts, and notice an unusual looking computer. Coming to life upon inspection, it sucks you into a digital space (*cough* Tron *cough*) and then thrusts you into a random dungeon, where you find that you've become a wizard! This world is now your oyster...
Lumo is, for better or worse, an isometric platformer. I'm inclined to say worse, because trying to figure out where you are and where you need to be in a faux-3D space is just as frustratingly difficult as it was over 20 years ago. The devs try to smooth things over with a slightly rotatable camera and 3 switchable control schemes, but I can promise you that you will still die many a time due to a jump that didn't go how you thought it would.
Thankfully, the restarts are quick and the lives are endless, which both allows for and encourages exploration. There are over 400 rooms to explore here, and almost all of them contain a unique puzzle to solve. Almost the entire gameplay experience appears to be derived from games past: there are balls to roll, barrels to jump, crates to push, lasers to align, patterns to memorize, minecarts to ride and more. Some of these combine for some clever puzzles, but most will not test you, especially if you've come across their inspirations in other games before.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, as the nods are many and I constantly found myself smiling over a reference to or mechanic from a game that I had all but forgotten about. It's just a shame that this joy is quickly marred by the exploration itself - successfully navigating the dungeon is a tedious affair thanks to a sub-par map and lack of quick travel. Wow, I sound spoilt...
GRAPHICS A flat starry background that never changes, models that look like they came out of a high-school graphic design class, and yet lighting effects that bounce and reflect beautifully off of everything they touch. It's a confusing mix of old and new as the developer tries to appeal to both, and seems to accomplish neither.
AUDIO The soundtracks for each of the 14 levels provide a nice ambience to them, but the sound effects are abrasive and under-produced. I understand the desire to appeal to the purists, but when you hear the same noise for the 20th time in quick succession, you'll want to turn the sound off.
Many of us look back at gaming from our childhoods with great fondness, and I'm sure many of you still have an old console or emulator for those trips down memory lane. Playing those old games is a blast because we remember them for what they are - Lumo tries to take those memories and put them into an anthology of happiness.
Lumo is targeted at a very specific audience, and if you recognise any of the references in this review, it's worth a look. As a reminder of what was, it succeeds well. But in today's day and age, a game needs to be more than just happy memories.