Lumo, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate Bathtime. In this love letter to retro video games, developed by Triple Eh?, you play as a young lad or lassie sucked into a video game by a malfunctioning virtual reality headset, controlling a wizard with the face of a baby who starts the game unable to jump. Sounds like an average Tuesday night to me, am I right?
Witness the rebirth of a genre in Lumo – a classic isometric adventure with a modern twist for gamers young and old alike!
As a contemporary take on the long-lost isometric platform genre, Lumo can be enjoyed by anyone looking for an absorbing, challenging and rewarding adventure. But for those who lived through the golden age of videogames – the 80s and early 90s – or know about the games and culture from that time, layer upon layer of nods, winks and touches to those times help build upon an experience that’s as heart-warming as it is exciting!
With over 400 rooms across four unique zones, six hidden mini-games and all kinds of secrets to uncover, Lumo is a true voyage of discovery. How much you discover just depends on how hard you look…
- Lumo revives the long-lost art of isometric platforming, while bringing a charm of all its own to the genre.
- Over 400 rooms will test your skill, each one a self-contained challenge to overcome.
- The more you look, the more you’ll find – from a hugely absording adventure on the surface to all kinds of secrets to find underneath!
- A true love letter to the golden age of gaming… adventures don’t get much more heart-warming than this!
When I say this is a love letter, I mean it. Every room is detailed, every secret feels like you’ve earned it, and every puzzle has an intuitive solution, though some require some bending the laws of physics. The developers also provide multiple control schemes for players who might get confused by the isometric view and move up and to the left when they wanted to move up (see also: me). Not only that, but they have a developer diary, where the creator talks about influences and secrets within the game. With an expansive world and no shortage of content, this game does what it sets out to do in providing a world, much like the ZX Spectrum games of old.
Where Lumo trips up, however, it trips up hard. There is a noticeable delay between pressing the jump key and actually jumping. This is a particular problem when trying to collect rubber ducks, one of the main collectables in Lumo. In order to get a rubber duck, you have to leap onto it as it floats in the middle of instant-death water, then immediately leap off onto solid (or not-so-solid) ground and hope you can get out of the room before you fail another jump and die. The problem comes in when you factor in the jump delay – oftentimes you’ll land on the duck just fine, but the game won’t register your jump off the duck in time and you will die. The game has an infinite lives mode (as opposed to the classic, “Finite lives, beat it in one go” setting), which I was grateful for considering it took me twenty-five tries to get one duck. It was when, upon seeing another duck, I sighed aloud, knowing the frustration that would come my way, I realized this was probably not the way I should be feeling about one of my main objectives. It turns out, however, that the problem was that I did not know how to rebound by holding down the jump button. Since Lumo is dialogue-less, however, there was no real way to figure out that rebounding was actually a thing without looking outside of the game itself.
The physics of Lumo are sometimes iffy, as illustrated by the duck problem above, but it pops up other places as well. For instance, once a fan blew me directly downward through the floor, past the death water, and into the infinite void of space, which I am pretty sure means it’s not working as intended. Another case of poor physics involves a room where you must leap on top of a bubble and get flown to the top. Now, the bubbles a few rooms back popped soon after I jumped on them, while the bubble after THOSE bubbles stayed around a bit longer. Again, not being aware that one could rebound made this simple task infinitely more frustrating than it could be and, one hundred deaths later, caused me to curse the very idea of having fun in a bubble bath.
Lumo has a lot of heart and soul put into it, that’s obvious from the minute you pick it up and play it. But in a game that relies upon precision platforming, having a delayed jump and iffy physics can all but kill the best of intentions. I believe Lumo just needs a bit more polishing before it can be the best it can be – but with a developer team as responsive as Triple Eh?, I have no doubt it can one day get there.
Lumo is available on Steam for $19.99. An early access code was provided for purposes of this review.