When I first saw the trailer for Lumo, I instantly knew I wanted to play it. It reminded me of a classic 1980’s/1990’s exploration game with great puzzles and platforming. Although I wasn’t even alive for most of those games when they first released, I know how special they were, and even to this day when I have a chance to play one they’re lots of fun. Lumo is everything that made those games great with some adjustments made for the modern gamer. Fear not though, if you want it to play exactly like a game straight out of 1985, you can play it that way!
When you create a new save file for Lumo, you have several options like how the game will control and the difficulty. You have the option of choosing what direction your character will go when using the analog stick. It sounds confusing but with the modern control scheme your character will move like a modern side-scroller or top down game. With one of the other control layouts, it plays more like an old-school isometric game. It’s something small, but it really adds to the experience. The controls for the game are very straightforward and it’s pretty much a one-button game except for moving with the analog stick. Press A to jump and that’s it. There is no combat in this game at all and it’s kind of refreshing to see a game that isn’t a walking simulator with no combat.
One of the other options you have before starting is your play style. You have two options, old school or adventure. Old school gives you three lives and it has a small timer at the bottom of the screen that times you similar to a time trial. This is an excellent tool for speedrunners trying to keep track of their time and I can see this game being a favorite among speedrunners. The adventure play style allows players to play with no worries about dying and doesn’t time you. There’s little punishment and it makes the game feel very relaxing. The game has some tricky platforming and sometimes you can get caught off guard by traps and die a frustrating death, but when playing in adventure mode you don’t have to worry about being punished for your mistakes. It takes the stress off you and is how I recommend playing the game for the first time.
The premise of the game is you're a young boy or girl going to a meetup for retro gamers where you can exchange retro games and magazines, play games, etc. When you arrive you get transported into an unknown game, and that game is Lumo. Once you’re inside there isn’t a real plot, it’s just about making your way through each level (which there are over 400 of, by the way). The game gives you no information on what to do or even what the controls are as you must figure everything out on your own. When given a puzzle, the answer is rarely in the room with you. You usually have to do a lot of exploring to find the solution. At first, I got really annoyed with my first couple puzzles because I kept expecting the answer to be nearby and would spend over ten minutes searching a room for the answer only to realize the answer isn’t in the room. It’s on the complete opposite end of the level! Lumo takes the things we expect from a modern puzzle game and flips it on it’s head and it’s absolutely wonderful!
The platforming in Lumo can be a bit clunky at times. There were times when I was trying to get a collectible or jump across to another platform, but the camera was at such an awkward angle that I would miss completely or the solution to getting a collectible was almost impossible because it was so close to the ominous liquid that kills you whenever you touch it. It was super frustrating and at times made me feel like certain things were unobtainable.
On top of the frustrating camera angles that makes platforming a real headache, I have one other issue with the game. There is no autosaving at all. Out of habit I quit my game numerous times without saving because every game has autosaves. I understand that the game is trying to be a classic old school game and those didn’t have autosaving, but autosaving is a must in 2016. God forbid our power turns off randomly and we lose all our progress! We all heard of the horror stories from when games had no saving system back before memory cards and what not, so I hope an autosave feature is patched in at some point.
The last thing I will touch on is some of the technical aspects of the game. Lumo runs incredibly smoothly with little to no hiccups. The game doesn’t even have any loading screens! One thing that bugged me, however, was the lack of a settings menu. There’s no menu with audio or brightness sliders. I play with iPhone headphones plugged into my Xbox controller (without the adapter, just the headphone jack) and when I wanted to talk to my friends I couldn’t hear them over the fairly loud music so I would have to completely quit the game if I wanted to play the game. The music also gets pretty annoying after a while as it’s just one track on a constant loop so I just wanted to turn it down a bit or turn it off completely at times, but there’s no way to do that.
Aside from the somewhat clunky platforming and the lack of autosaving, Lumo is a game that fans of old school puzzle-platformers must play! You are rewarded for exploration, the game is visually appealing and very nostalgic, and it’s fun to solve the countless amount of puzzles in the game. You can tell that a lot of heart and soul was poured into this game and although it has it’s issues, it’s still a fantastic game with loads of replay value if you love exploring or speedrunning!
Be sure to check out the launch trailer below.