Games have come a long way in the last few decades, from humble beginnings in the form of Pong to hugely detailed worlds with intricate stories and memorable characters. Of course you can still get everything in between the two, some of which take on modern ideals to create games while others look to the past. Triple Eh?’s Lumo falls into the latter category, bringing a classical isometric adventure to a new audience.
Lumo’s gameplay is pretty simple, with each room leading to the next and challenging you with puzzles along the way, as you try to collect a varity of items. You can tackle this through two ways by either opting for the Adventure mode, or testing your mettle in the Old School mode. Adventure has infinite lives and a number of save points, while Old School does away with all of that, giving you just three lives to get through the game without saving.
The intention really is for you to tackle the Adventure mode first, as you will die a lot while working out solutions to the puzzles. Some of these deaths will be down to the player, but others stem from the game’s design, which can be frustrating to work with at times.
One of the main tools a player has is the ability to tilt rooms which rotate the rooms slightly, helping to change the perspective a bit to get an idea of what is required to complete a puzzle. However, this is taken away from you in some room, and this seems to target rooms that would benefit greatly from a slight change in perspective. Losing that tool can make things a lot more challenging, and turns Lumo into a slog. There were at least three points that I can pick out where the loss of tilt got me stuck in a room for about 15 minutes, even though I knew the solution. The lack of tilt and not being able to place your jumps as a consequence had me dying time and again.
One particular room has you jumping from chain to chain, and if you fall you die. It’s a simple task, but judging jumps in the game isn’t easy, and for some reason, the little wizard just would not attach to a chain that he hits or is within millimetres of it. This one particular example led to a lot of frustration, but jumping on a whole in Lumo feels off and each one only barely seems to make it to the next platform.
These issues crop up later in the game, which undoes the strong start that Lumo has. The majority of puzzles are interesting and span multiple rooms. Every time one is solved there’s that little eureka moment and the joy that comes from it, especially when you work out the solution to a particularly tough puzzle. At no point does a puzzle feel impossible to complete, with all the work coming from you. Lumo gives no overt guidance on how to solve a puzzle, but teaches you the tricks as you play and leaves the tools for you to work out things for yourself.
One of the other tools is the light of a wand, which reveals hidden paths to solve later puzzles, though it isn’t needed until the second half of the game. The light isn’t infinite and has to be topped up, which is rarely a concern as pick ups are plentiful. While the puzzles are the main point of Lumo there are nods to other games, as well as some changes to the gameplay which shake things up a bit and add to the overall experience.
While there are usually complaints of a game being too short, there was actually a feeling that Lumo was getting too long for its own good, with the time being extended by continuous deaths in some parts of the world. In fact, boredom started to set in, even with new traps being added to the mix. Some of this might have come from a lack of motivation from a story, and there’s no real link between the different areas that you are transported to in game.
Triple Eh?’s design work is top notch though, with Lumo looking polished and well made. The music is also well composed, though there were moments where nothing was playing, with the silence only broken by the sounds of my death, which did become annoying after failing jumps a fair few times.
Lumo is full of well thought out puzzles, but it lacks certain gameplay touches that could have pushed it into being a great game. My main gripe is that the jumping feels awkward and, coupled with perspective issues, means you can fail a simple puzzle dozens of times. The game does have a certain charm to it, and I would recommend it as a nostalgia trip for players that grew up with similar games, but this will not be for those who aren’t fans of classic titles or puzzles.
Version tested: PS4