It is easy to compare Lumo’s components to any adventure game, especially those of the isometric genre that inspire so many of its elements. But my brief experience with Triple Eh?’s Lumo was more akin to a visit to a cherished playground from the past. Lumo begins with your character, a child, exploring a retro game exhibit. The hall is lined with references to the arcade gaming culture of the 80s and 90s, complete with bulky personal computers and flashy arcade machines. This image of the past is cut short when the player is zapped into the world of Lumo, through a sequence that nods to Tron. Players are then transformed into a short, mage-like character and the setting is shifted to the same gloomy dungeon that gamers have grown to feel comfortable in. It is this sequence of nostalgia and references that keeps the allure of Lumo from being anything less than surprising.
Lumo is a callback to gaming’s golden age and it’s never too shy to let this be known. There are multiple grin-worthy references to be found within Lumo’s first stage alone. From its retro themed intro to an Indiana Jones inspired boulder chase, the nostalgic aspects of Lumo’s design are always visible. What makes these even more enjoyable is that these references are never overplayed or designed in bad taste. It truly feels as if though each homage to the past contributes to Lumo’s overall theme without dominating its unique design. Each room in Lumo’s introductory dungeon is charming in its own way. Some rooms are poorly lit stretches of water tiles with only a pair of rolling boulders to ride upon. Others feature factory-like conveyer belts that slide crates and teddy bears along. With its isometric perspective, each of Lumo’s rooms feels like a true memory of the genre’s aesthetic. But the advanced visuals in Lumo make it stand perfectly against modern standards. The result of this blend of old and new concepts is a world that can be marvelous in any decade.
The goal of Lumo is to navigate through puzzles in order to escape the digital world. What I discovered through these puzzles is that Lumo is a game that is just as entertaining for both adults and children alike. Early on, I could easily dismiss the puzzles as simple and unengaging. Before long, however, I was surprised to find myself being too stumped to be confident. Each gameplay mechanic in Lumo is introduced in a clear, simple way. Once these tools are taught, Lumo hardly attempts to make their use obvious. Instead of walking players through puzzles with blatant hints, Lumo hides many visual cues that force players to be creative with their abilities. One puzzle challenges players with moving a stack of boxes in order to gain a necessary key. Moving these in a manner that allows access to this key, though, can only be accomplished through experimentation with the game’s isometric pint of view. In another, successfully moving along a line of conveyor belts is achieved by remembering their twisting layout that was teased in a previous room. The addition of an “Old School” mode, where lives are finite and players must race against the clock, makes Lumo a challenge that will test even the most skilled of players.
The most entertaining thing about Lumo is its many hidden collectibles. Finding these items is rewarding because it is not difficult to do so. Collecting many of these requires only a short jump from a seemingly unreachable ledge. Lumo’s collectables challenge players with committing to exploration. Mapping out each room and desperately attempting to vault over a room’s ceiling or testing whether an elevator platform leads to a secret area is an adventure of its own. When these collectibles are placed directly in your vision, as is the case with Lumo’s many rubber ducks, the thrill only intensifies. Unlike the other collectibles, these require players to forego danger, as they are placed in tiles of water that will lead to a respawn if not avoided. Discovering ways in which to use a room’s layout in order to safely grab these can easily become a challenge of its own. Lumo’s true sense of adventure is that its challenges offer more rewards than just a set of collectibles. It creates a need for players to solve problems in creative and interesting ways.
Triple Eh?’s promise of revitalizing the isometric platformer genre is easily met by Lumo. A smart mix of challenging, creative puzzles and easily obtained objectives creates an experience that can be appreciated by anybody. The many nods to previous cultural gems are similarly capable of pleasing all audiences. Unlike similar platformers, what Lumo does best is bridge the gap between gaming’s arcade days and the industry’s modern focus on delivering an immersive experience. Lumo not only revitalizes a genre, but creates one of its own, where the same adventures of the past are met by this era’s own thrills and expectations.
Lumo was previewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.