To be honest, I had never heard of Lumo before playing the 30-minute demo provided to me for this preview. I’ve attended a number of major gaming conventions in the past two years and never came across it at any of them. My point is that this wasn’t a game that I had been anticipating. When my editor asked if anyone was interested in previewing it, I saw that it appeared to be an arcade-style puzzle game about a boy wizard and thought, “I love Harry Potter and puzzles, so sure why not?” I hope you have read this far and didn’t bail out in those first few sentences, because I need you to know that I can now safely say that Lumo is now one of my most-anticipated indie games of this spring.
Lumo is a strong puzzle game that is always evolving its challenges, with fun collectibles and gameplay that will remind you of games of the past, but it’s not something so impossible that you can’t feasibly defeat it. It does a great job of making you wonder what is in store for you next.
Oops, I played it again
Before writing up any preview, news story or review, I always browse the website of the developer for any additional information relevant information. Developer Triple Eh?’s Tumblr page has a video of a playthrough by another outlet. I watched it to see if there was anything they found that I had missed. As it turned out, I, in fact, had not even finished the full 30 minutes. I had reached a dead end and thought that was where the demo concluded, but it turned out that there was another, less obvious way to go.
This meant going back and playing again to see everything available. The second time around not only was the demo even more enjoyable, but I realized that if you want to unlock all the secrets, you need to check every corner and edge of the room — including the ceiling. Even though the tops of the rooms seem to lead to nothing, it turns out that a lot of them can be jumped over, and on the other side often has a hidden collectible. This discovery made the game much more interesting and enjoyable.
Triple Eh? describes Lumo as an isometric, arcade-adventure game. Like many games in this genre, Lumo was inspired by its ‘80s forebears. One of the most interesting parts was the vintage collectibles and music that you come by on your journey. Throughout the demo, I stumbled across a number of mixed tapes and rubber duckies. It was never really clear what these items did, if anything, but it was still fun to find and collect them all. There was also a moment where I took an elevator to another level and was treated to some ‘80s tunes. These were all nice little touches that felt a little unexpected in the otherwise menacing-looking world of this game.
Many developers aspire to create games akin to those they loved as a kid, and making these games a million times harder than their predecessors seems to be a trend. Lumo’s gameplay seemed just right. It wasn’t so easy that it bored me, but it also wasn’t so insanely hard that I ever felt like there was just no way to progress. Of course, the preview build only contained the first 30 minutes, so I’m sure that changes as you move on. But that’s the way it should be: the difficulty getting incrementally harder as you advance through the game, not immediately insane.
Speaking of classic gameplay and nods to the past, I did not get to play these in the demo, but Lumo’s website, appears to show a few levels (possibly mini-games) that look very much inspired by classic NES games. There was a level where you rode in a mine cart just like Donkey Kong Country’s Mine Cart Madness and another level where you slalomed down the slopes similar to the skiing in any classic Olympic or skiing-themed game. Combining downhill skiing with a wizard trying to solve puzzles in a castle is seemingly very random, but also one of the things that make Lumo different and intriguing.
Though the preview build wasn’t very long, the sign of a really good demo is when you’re bummed that you’ve finished and can’t wait to find out what happens next. At the end of the preview, I still didn’t know what the mix tapes would do (if anything), when I would get my wand, what other powers I held and more. My interest has been piqued, though, and I can’t wait to find out all the answers to these questions, which is why I will be keeping an eye out for when Lumo hits the Xbox One on April 22 with 400 rooms, four different zones and six hidden mini-games.