Platforms: PlayStation 4. PS Vita, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac
Publisher/Developer: Rising Star Games/Triple Eh? Ltd
Genre: Isometric puzzler
Rating: 4 out of 5
Describe This Game in Three Words: Specter of ZX Sectrum
Plot: Your young hero is sucked into an old-school isometric puzzler.
Up, Up: Room-based isometric puzzle games were something that was really, really popular in the early British video game scene that sort of fell by the wayside following the evolution of the adventure genre that kind of supplanted it. It’s started making a comeback lately, with Monument Valley probably being the platonic ideal of the modern incarnation, but Lumo is definitely worth the try.
It’s one of the best-constructed puzzlers I have ever played. You start off with only a weak jump to navigate the puzzles, but you soon acquire new abilities. What makes Lumo damned-near perfect is how flawlessly it integrates the acquisition of new powers with a great learning curve, as well as level design that feels large but never is fairly simple to navigate and understand. It’s just a really well-crafted, evolutionary puzzle experience.
The game I would most compare it to is actually Portal. As with Portal, puzzles aren’t things beside the point; they are the point. That means they sort of become characters in their own right, and solving each one gives a small thrill of victory that comes only from navigating a very subtle test correctly.
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Down, Down: There’s one thing that hasn’t improved in the decades since the isometric model first appeared. Jump puzzles in this form are still maddening, and I started having Super Mario RPG flashbacks throughout play. You’d best start out playing on the Adventure Game setting that gives you infinite lives because you’re going to die a lot from falling.
Left, Right, Left, Right: Speaking of that, there is a terrible failing in the control scheme. For the most part it’s simple, but there’s a side quest of collecting rubber duckies in otherwise fatal water. To do this, you have to hold down the jump button after landing on them to bounce, and considering how elaborate some of the necessary jump moves are in a genre not really set up for jump puzzles in the first place, it’s a really pointless extra headache.
B, A: You can also play this game on old-school arcade settings that give you finite lives and make things much more difficult. Though I’m not the sort of gamer who really enjoys that type of challenge, it does give a wider experience for those who want to play the game at a different level
Start?: Yep, this is definitely one of the indie games you’re going to want to try out. Falling into it is a very pure gaming experience that is instantly enjoyable.