NOTE: Keys were given to the the Indie Game Riot team by the game’s developer for review.
Creating a game that has no loading screens, on screen dialogue or any direction at all, sounds like a recipe for utter disaster when it comes to basic design. As the player may end up being lost in your world, without any help should something go awry. Lumini does exactly that however. It features a map that doesn’t ever need to reload itself or stop the ‘flow’ of gameplay from being enjoyable.
As a self-styled independent title, it’s a seemingly bold move to manifest something that goes against most of the market. Advertised as a “flow adventure game” on its Steam page, this vibrant, lush title is a strange hybrid of genres and ideas from a vast catalog, that comes together in a single string to make something very fun and wholly unique.
In the opening few moments, as something of a homage to Pikmin, you take control of a tiny, utterly adorable winged creature, which we can safely assume as these ‘Lumini’ mentioned previously. Without a single prompt or hint from the game, you carry onward, without really knowing what your overall goal is. This minimalist approach to storytelling makes the world a bit more mysterious, because you have to make your own theories, but it can just be confusing if you don’t enjoy games as ‘experiences’.
Flying into the unknown is a strange feeling, because the calming, mellow soundtrack makes you want to relax and enjoy the scenery. As you explore more, you enter the caves where a variety of different Lumini become available, each with a different ability that comes in handy when the need arises. The purple ones are the most basic type and possess no special power for you to exploit, while the red (offensive, with a blast ability), blue (best used for quick escapes) and yellow (can collect orbs at range) help you make it through the puzzles you encounter.
Despite the lack of formal objective, the best course of action is to continue heading as far right as you can, all while collecting power ups to make your ever-growing band of creatures stronger and keeping a keen eye open for orbs to turn into more friends. Hence the Pikmin reference earlier, as this game really does seem to have taken a page from its book, with both protagonist(s) and enemy design. As long as you’ve got at least one Lumini, regardless of color, you’re good to go. However, there are various, weird, creatures that just want to eat you all alive.
Everything clicks brilliantly right up until the point where you get outside of the caves for the first time. Right as you’re taking in the desolate scenery (Strangely beautiful for the Unity engine), lightning strikes and the frame rate drops. This hideous stuttering continues until you make it back inside and even then it still happens occasionally, simply because. This may be due to specific PC specs as this did not happen with all of IGR’s staff.
Lumini is a wonderful experience that is a fitting mixture of clever puzzle solving and somewhat tense action, but it lacks overall depth and replay value. Once the title is well and done, which can be achieved in little under two hours, a player has few reasons to come back and glide through it once again.