So, I picked up my boyfriend’s Vita 2 days ago and saw that he had some game called Lumo downloaded on there. I saw a mage’s cape and a wizard’s hat, so I was like “why not?” Not knowing wtf this was, I pressed start. I checked his previous save data and he only played like 12 seconds into the game. So I booted up a fresh file and set out to have an adventure. The game let me choose the gender and hat color of my character, so naturally, I went with girl and green. I’m then transported to suburbia or a college campus dorm. IDK, the game isn’t particularly clear on anything. I walked inside a building and before I could explore, I was sucked into what appears to be a computer screen. And then the game officially starts…
Lumo is a vague, frustrating, death machine….
But once you clear a challenge, you get a massive “I DID IT!” smile across your face with very little reward for all your struggling.
At its core, Lumo is an isometric platformer. There is a lot of jumping, falling, dying and respawning. There aren’t any directions and there’s no clear objective. There’s no dialogue. The only thing you know to do, after trial and error, is to get to the next door across the level. Once you understand that part, you have to solve puzzles and collect keys to access different parts of the castle setting that you’ve been dropped into. All the rooms are displayed on the screen as rectangular cutouts floating in space. Each level is comprised of various rooms and doors. And you may have to visit certain rooms first before being able to access others.
There are collectibles, but I’m not really sure why. Some are in rooms you need to explore. Others are in hidden in offscreen places. Then, some are floating in the deathly purple water below. There are audio tapes to collect although you can’t readily listen to them; there are coins to collect although you don’t know you need them until you just do; and there are yellow rubber ducks to collect, which do nothing but show up at the end of the game in a serene pond. The same pond that was outside of the building your character enters before the game officially starts. I collected all of the ducks because they were cute and seemed out of place in the dark, dungeon-like castle.
The game starts off fairly easy. You jump. You collect. You move on. Then, tasks become increasingly difficult with the addition of disappearing platforms, levers, puzzles and a plethora of things that can kill you. The game is punishing but very fair. It made me search my brain for ways to complete the tasks at hand. It’s a great puzzle game all in all. There’s soooo much exploring to do in each room and level. So if you’re a trophy hunter, this game is perfect for you.
I’ll admit that I had fun playing this game. Getting past the death traps and successfully making it to the next room felt great. I felt extremely accomplished collecting all 32 ducks. However, I’ve never felt more frustrated in my entire life. The game played with my vision. There were no shadows in the version I played on Vita, besides my character’s little circle, despite there being light sources. I never quite knew where certain platforms were and thus I died A LOT. I died so much that I got a trophy for it. I have terrible depth perception, though.
Play the game if you like trophies, a quick challenge, and throwback 80’s isometric platformers. Do not play this game if you’re easily frustrated. I had to restrain myself from throwing the Vita across the room on multiple occasions.
About the author – Elaine C. Kern:
She is a nerd. That is all.