Nostalgia, is there any better feeling? A wistful affection for something particular in our past or childhood. I imagine, much like myself, a lot of gamers have at least one title they hold dear in their memories. A game that upon seeing it somewhere again they are taken back to that “oh so simpler” of times when your only responsibility was to beat the final boss before your parents made you return it to the rental store.
I personally have many such memories and as such many games to go along with them. While a lot of the most popular genres of games have been preserved, emulated, remastered and rebooted over many years some genres have sadly fallen by the wayside.
Lumo is Triple Eh?’s attempt at reviving the long neglected genre of isometric puzzle adventures. Often referred to as 2.5D, as it is neither 2D or 3D but somewhere in between, this graphic style when applied to puzzle or platforming games offers players a unique challenge where precision and depth perception will be your greatest enemies.
Lumo delivered on this front spectacularly, in both good and bad ways. More on that later though. I was definitely eager to give Lumo a try once I downloaded it from PlayStation network for free last March. The screenshots brought me back to looking at the back covers of games like Solstice and Monster Max at my once home away from home, Northside Video Store. So while it did sit in my collection for a bit, getting picked over for other games, it didn’t take me too long to try it out and knock it off my list
Originally what caught my attention the most about Lumo was that gorgeous cover art. Print that baby off and slap it on my walls because it’s what my dreams are made of when it comes to game art. Bright, colorful artwork that gives you a glimpse of what you’re in store for with the game itself and what could be more tantalizing, for me anyway, than that Final Fantasy IX ViVi looking main character! Joy abound!… and then sadly crushed.
Once I actually started up the game my beloved ViVi was replaced with an ugly, disgruntled looking baby type character wearing wizard clothes…Wow…really Triple Eh?? You felt this angry, wizard infant was better looking than a mage straight out of Final Fantasy? To each his own I guess, but I was sorely disappointed nonetheless.
The game graphics themselves though were not disappointing in the slightest. Lots of great colors and lighting played out in varying environments throughout the game. From warmly lit castle rooms, to cold toned ice stages, to dimly lit starscape ambiances I loved the visuals wholeheartedly.
The game itself didn’t have much of an online presence that I was aware of. I saw a few pictures and read a review or two when the game was first released but really that was all forgotten in the year it took me to get and play the game. I know Lumo received much more favorable reviews from its PC players than its console ones, but none of that really impacted my desire to play it.
So Lumo’s main claim to fame lies in that the developers really strove to rekindle that old school feeling of mystery. The game begins by making you choose a gender and clothing color for your teenage character who you will play for all of 2 minutes before he or she is sucked into a computer game and turned into an ugly baby wizard. The clothing color you choose does translate to the color of the wizard’s robes but the gender is not. I guess they just wanted to give the player the option.
From there you are tasked with exploring over 400 rooms with no real goal in mind other than progressing through the maps and collecting obscure items like cassette tapes and rubber ducks. Most rooms are merely hallways or doorways to the main puzzle rooms. The puzzles are never difficult, but the platforming required in order to reach a particular switch or level can test your patience in ways you only thought possible by your kids.
And therein lies the major downfall of the isometric perspective. That 30 degree angle viewpoint diminishes your depth perception to near zero. Also, the ice physics in the game will make you want to lob your controller across the room. Seriously guys, I died more in Lumo making jumps and collecting those flipping rubber ducks than I did fighting Artorias of the Abyss in Dark Souls.
The sense of accomplishment is real though once you finally progress to the next puzzle or section of the game. I really enjoyed the small nods given to various other classic games that were subtly included throughout Lumo. I won’t spoil anything of course but I definitely saw hints of Pac Man, Zelda and Qbert.
So, all in all I would say I harbored a major Love/Hate relationship throughout my playthrough. I know that Lumo lends itself well to a lot of replays but I wasn’t totally feeling it so I walked away after my first time seeing those credits roll. Awesome graphics and fun puzzles coupled with irritating physics do not make me really want to relive my experience but maybe in time Lumo will be one of those games I look back on fondly.