Lumino City is one of those games that effortlessly exudes charm, no matter what system you’re playing on. Having originally released last year on PC and January 2015 on Mac, the uniquely styled puzzler has now made the jump to portable, namely on Apple devices.
Although the arts and crafts aesthetic is nothing new to the medium – just look at LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway – Lumino City takes an authentic approach few developers would ever dare try. Everything you see in-game, from the miniature town to huge crane-like structures, is made completely by hand.
That’s right, London-based indie State Of Play has actually sourced and put together a bunch of materials in order to create each scene and character found in Lumino City. It’s a marvellous feat made only more impressive by the studio’s use of real lights and motorised components. In motion, when all of these elements come together, the game looks drop dead gorgeous.
In it you play Lumi, an intrepid little tinkerer who takes after her grandfather, the ingenious handyman of Lumino City. Just moments into the game, however, and the two of them are separated. With her gramps having vanished or worse, been kidnapped, Lumi takes to the big city to search for clues of his whereabouts.
During her travels, Lumi will encounter a number of eccentric inhabitants living in their painted cardboard abodes. Quite naturally, with their resident handyman missing, they’ll turn to you to solve their problems – machine related or otherwise. From operating a series of wacky contraptions and playing the guitar to fixing a puncture and finding some lost trousers, each chapter throw up a patchwork of zany puzzles.
In order to beat them you’ll need to interact with your surrounding environment, yanking at levers and talking to bystanders. This is all done via the touchscreen and works pretty well thanks to the game’s sheer simplicity. Lumino City is one of those relaxing mobile titles you can prop up on a desk or coffee, using one finger to leisurely tap away.
Although many of the puzzles will rely on common sense, there are others that hinge a bit too much on trial and error. With no obvious pointers or a hint system, sometimes you’ll need to frantically tap away with crossed fingers, hoping your that your sporadic inputs will trigger something. It’s either that or hitting up one of the many handy online walkthroughs.
Regardless of your approach, Lumino City should easily clock anywhere between two and four hours. Beyond that there’s the option to go back and replay individual puzzles or simply start over. However, unless you fancy basking in the glory of its hand-crafted vistas, there’s little else to keep players from coming back.
At just under a fiver, that could raise an issue among prospective buyers. Although undoubtedly a visual masterpiece, that’s a steep price to pay for a bit of interactive eye candy, especially on the App Store. Without a bigger variety of puzzles, game modes, and extra add-ons, there’s a good chance that some will come away from Lumino City feeling shortchanged.