- Developed by Speelbaars
- Published by Rising Star Games
- Full Controller Support
- Available on…….(click for storefront)
Lumini tells the story of a forgotten species of what I can only describe as a cross between fireflies and flying fish. Having been gone for thousands of years their home world has devolved into a broken and twisted version of itself and only a few remaining Lumini can hope to revitalize the planet and bring their race back from the brink of extinction.
As the player you’ll accomplish this by moving your swarm of Lumini throughout various environments and collect the planets energy which you’ll then use to resurrect your race by offering that energy to what are known as Breeding Crystals, thus making your swarm larger.
These Breeding Crystals also serve as checkpoints to mark your progress through the game as there are no loading screens of any kind nor can you manually save your progress. This is one continual experience and if you wish to stop in the middle of it then any progress made since the last crystal you encountered will be lost.
This isn’t a huge issue since checkpoints are aplenty and the game itself is inherently short. I was able to beat it in about two hours myself. Any progress you might stand to lose in the event of having to leave the game for whatever reason typically stands to only be a few minutes worth at most.
So how is it?
Lumini is an absolutely gorgeous game. Graphically it’s not a powerhouse but then it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Its use of light and color do a fantastic job of hiding whatever imperfections there might be in the textures but there are some instances where you can definitely see them. This is one of those games however where I feel it’s important to consider the whole of what you’re seeing rather than analyze what makes up the sum of its parts.
There is no shortage of variety in the level design as one moment you might be traveling through a deep underground network of magnificent crystal caverns and the next you’ll suddenly emerge into a lush tranquil forest. The music does a superb job of accenting these transitions and I legitimately enjoyed the same feeling of relief coming out of a cave in Lumini as I did in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or Skyrim.
The soundtrack overall was excellent. I’m not a huge fan of synthetic music but it did fit well with the tone and atmosphere of the game and boy is there atmosphere. Flying through the desolate wastes of the game’s surface world you can hear the low moaning of the planets giant “Stiltwalkers” echoing in the distance which perpetuates the feeling that this world is lonely and dying, with the magnificence of these majestic creatures juxtaposed against it. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Some of the best moments in the game are when you actually get to see evidence of when the Lumini were last on this planet in the form of statues and drawings that shine brilliantly with magic.
These drawings dictate the role of the Lumini with regards to the balance of the planet and in some cases it can be theorized that they were revered by the people who built the temples and cities that house these artifacts. Lore presented so ambiguously helps paint the Lumini as being ancient and mysterious and because of it you’re compelled to keep going and find out what their true purpose is.
SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE
Lumini is a great example of an indie that sets out with a specific vision and executes it well however there are a few things holding it back from being as great as it could be and I’ll get into those in a moment.
Personally I used a controller to play through the game as I felt it provided the most precise handling of the swarm. They move about like a school of fish in very fluid and circular motions that analog control lent itself to quite effectively. Compare that to WASD which just felt rather rigid. You could play the game like that without much issue of course if you prefer but you might find it trickier in some of the game’s more frantic moments and in some puzzles, where it’s necessary to fly the swarm in a circle to open doors.
There are four different types of Lumini, each with their own special abilities that serve to make up the core of game play. Each variety of Lumini matches their corresponding color on an Xbox gamepad whereas on a keyboard they are bound to 1-4.
- The red Lumini are typically the ones I had leading the swarm. They emit a powerful pulse that damages and kills
enemies as well as demolishes obstacles in your path. When fully upgraded the pulse emits three times in rapid succession, killing any enemy caught in its radius. Oh, and they appear to have armor.
- The Blue Lumini should lead if it’s swiftness you’re after as they allow for short bursts of speed with the press of a button. When upgraded the burst lasts longer.
- The Yellow Lumini can actively seek out and point you in the direction of the planets collectible energy when you’re close. When upgraded they can emit multiple tiny bolts of electricity that will automatically pick up nearby sources of energy which grants the entire swarm a protective shield for a time.
- Purple Lumini are your basic variety and the kind you begin the game with. At the start they can simply stun enemies and as far as I can tell they have no upgrades.
As mentioned each type of Lumini can be upgraded and up to three times in any order your wish. Upgrades found in the game appear differently depending on what variety of Lumini you currently have active (i.e. leading) and they’ll change whenever you change leaders. If you don’t want to upgrade red then before you fly over it make blue the leader and so on.
There a multiple paths through a level that you can take which encourages you to explore your surroundings and find all these upgrades as well as the hidden purple crystal collectibles that serve to unlock the game’s side goodies.
Finally the player can choose to split the swarm and control both groups with the left and right analog sticks. This mechanic is almost exclusively used to solve the game’s puzzles which are unfortunately its weakest link.
There’s just not that much variety in them.
They all consist of splitting the swarm to either push switches or rotate door mechanisms with the occasional iteration on that idea here and there but overall I feel the puzzles got too repetitive. Outside of that there wasn’t much need to make use of any of the various Lumini abilities either aside from the speed boost.
While individually the abilities are creative, beyond using red to obliterate foes the game presented no real excuse to make use of any of the others. I feel there was a missed opportunity here to explore their utility with regards to puzzle design which would’ve provided some much needed variety. They didn’t and as a result the blue and yellow Lumini sat in the back through much of the experience and the game began to wear on me towards the end.
Thankfully it’s right about that time that the game does come to a fairly satisfying conclusion and a hard mode is unlocked which I did not play.
Completionists will want to replay the game and find all of the aforementioned purple crystals which are really well hidden and the reward for doing so is concept art and view-able character models.
All in all I did enjoy my time with Lumini and while game play did begin to get stale as a result of repetitive puzzle design and underused mechanics I feel it’s made up for by a stellar soundtrack and an extremely atmospheric world that didn’t overstay its welcome.
Its asking price seems a wee bit steep for what’s on offer here but Speelbaars also isn’t trying to hide what the game is. That being a “relaxing flow-style adventure” so I’ll leave it to you guys to ultimately decide what that’s worth.
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