Lumo is out now on Steam, gog.com, the Humble Store (PC/Mac/Linux), and PlayStation 4 now and that $20 price tag may actually be too little for such a gorgeous and brain-twisting platform/adventure game hybrid. Created by Triple Eh! (Gareth Noyce) and published by Rising Star Games, there’s so much packed into this isometric wonder that most gamers under a certain age with no sense of game history outside their own short memories will spin themselves silly trying to keep up with the seemingly endless references to games they’ve never seen or played. North American gamers with some experience will note the Solstice and Equinox homages along with nods to Donkey Kong, Marble Madness, and a few other classic arcade and console games while they jump through around and in many cases, OVER levels to locate some very-well hidden secrets.
This isn’t a proper “review” (yet) as I’m basing my wordy noise here on the preview code I received and finally got around to this past weekend. Think of this as a fine and dandy heads-up if you’re on the hunt for a lengthy, challenging blend of old and new schools that’s cute enough to be a kid’s game, but tricky enough to get the most seasoned player checking out every nook and cranny for hidden stuff. As you play, you’ll discover Noyce is indeed a very, very talented guy with an elephantine memory and deep knowledge about his favorite games and a willingness to share that with anyone who picks up a controller. 400 rooms in a beautifully rendered Easter Egg farm where fast movement is necessary, yet paying attention to visual cues makes for truly rewarding play sessions. The sense of discovery in Lumo is fairly remarkable because you’ll be doing things both inside and outside the box. See some crates stacked by a wall or what looks like a curious means of reaching the top of a wall? With a bit of effort poking around in nearby room or a bit of backtracking to other curious spots, you’ll be up and over those walls and into new territory.
The game doesn’t handhold or tutor you with much other that allowing your brain to expand a bit and get your eyes looking for anything that seems odd. There’s that sense of accomplishment when you learn how to double jump off a crate or floating bubble quickly, nab that rubber duck and bounce to safety thanks to the well-done controls (that are adjustable via pre-game setting menu). That said, prepare to use a controller over a mouse and keyboard for best results. Each room is a puzzle to b solved and while the game has two difficulty levels, it’s very highly recommended that new players (or old and rusty ones) hit up the easier mode for its map and timer-less play. The harder mode is pure old school timed madness that’s brilliant and all too challenging. Or: I didn’t make it past the tenth room because I panicked jumped into some nice dissolving liquid of some sort. Back to the other mode for me!
Still, the game in any mode is a joy to see and play. Fantastic, crisp and colorful visuals pop off the screen in full HD, the music and sound effects work perfectly together, and there’s the BIG Grin factor working at full tilt. “What’s that, now?”, you ask? Well, you know when you’re playing a game that’s SO good and so much fun that you start getting a BIG Grin going that lasts so long your teeth dry out? Yeah, Lumo will do that to you and do it well and often enough that you’ll want to not get up from in front of your home computing device of choice. Fortunately, PlayStation Vita owners will see a portable version of the game in June (yes, please!), along with an Xbox One version for that console’s owners. Sorry, Wii U fans – there seems to be no plans to get this onto the eShop, which is too bad for those who only have that system to play games on. It would be cool to have a parental unit who remembers playing the NES and SNES game noted above earlier passing that torch (and a Wii U GamePad) to their offspring so they could get a BIG Grin going. But those fans will need to opt for one of the other available or soon to be made available options.
Anyway, go grab Lumo and see for yourself what’s what. It’s definitely the smartest game I’ve played this year and unless something else really blows me out of the water and gets me BIG Grinning like this, that list of clever games might be a short one by the time 2017 rolls in.