Lumini review – Big flash, little substance

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The most popular objective in games is getting from point A to B, but the means to get there is different. Sometimes it requires getting past waves of enemies, other times there are puzzles blocking your path. Developer Speelbaars’s Lumini attempts to fill that void between visual, puzzle-based adventure, but it succeeds at one more than the other.

Lumini tells the tale of an ancient alien species (called Lumini, of course) who have mysteriously disappeared from their home planet which has since become a hostile environment. It’s up to these adorable creatures to bring light back to their world with their assortment of powers.

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It becomes apparent at first glance that Lumini‘s strength lies in its overall presentation. While it isn’t the best looking or optimized game on the Unity engine, its use of color is admirable combined with the therapeutic music that can be cinematic at specific times. The majority of the game takes place within large caves on a 2D-plane; occasionally you will head out of the caves to witness the rest of the planet within the background to find local fauna there for aesthetic appeal or to harm you. Crystals are hidden in certain zones which unlock beautiful concept art and character models when collected.

I say “you” like there’s one playable character, but there isn’t. You see, Lumini travel in schools (like packs but in fish-terms) and there are four types identified by color: purple ones stun enemies, red ones attack enemies, blue ones speed up the pack, and yellow ones collect light orbs through their electric powers. These abilities level up (or evolve) over time also altering the appearance of whichever Lumini gets the boost. What’s interesting is the school can be split in two by using two separate analog sticks on a gamepad to control each half; this is why the game recommends the use of a controller as opposed to mouse and keyboard. This makes for light puzzle-solving elements consisting mainly of using one-half of the school to push a button for opening a door, the other half is supposed to go through to push ANOTHER button to leave it open. Sometimes these doors have to be open by use of windmill which demands you to rotate both control sticks in unison making sure both halves of the school don’t stray away; it may sound easy at first, but it’s actually quite frustrating.

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Then there are the enemies, or should I say “minor annoyances”. They can vary from dangerous plants on the walls spitting projectiles or flying sharp-teethed creatures itching for their next meal. When they attack, some of the Lumini gets eaten and the only way to get more back is to go to checkpoints (in the form of bright blue cubes) to exchange orbs for more. Defeating these enemies is simple: switch to the red Lumini, hit right trigger, repeat depending on enemy type. It’s not challenging and it’s awfully repetitive. Lumini seems like a game that would’ve been better off without enemies at all; kind of like a calm, relaxing game to play on a Sunday night if you will.

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Final Reaction

This review may have come off as tough, but that’s only because I’d like to see Speelbaars do better in their future installments. Lumini has lots going for it in terms of presentation. When the development team figures out how to better incorporate battle and puzzle-solving mechanics in their games, they could have a real gem on their hands and so far they are on the right track!

Rating: 3/5 Atoms

NR 3 Atoms - C

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Joey Ferris
Joey Ferris 260 posts

l love to play games and write stuff about them. I can't play something and not tell anyone how I feel about it. Call it a sickness, because it is.