Review: Lumo (PS4)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Lumo
Format: PlayStation Network Download (3.37 GB)
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Triple Eh?
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €17.99 (EU), £14.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 3
Lumo is also available on PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I still have fond memories of the original Back to Bed, The Great Escape, even Equinox and many other isometric games from my childhood. Some were great, and very challenging. The style of game is very rare nowadays, with the many game engines making it much easier to develop larger, grander experiences. We seem to have lost that old school challenge and excitement.

Gameplay:
Adventure or Old School. Those are your first two very important choices in Lumo, followed by the nearly inconsequential character choice. Adventure is the easier mode with infinite lives and an ability to save the game, a choice many gamers should pick, at least for the first playthrough.

Old School is just that, like the good old days, before we had saves and maps. We had to struggle collecting extra lives, and pray we didn’t lose them all as that would be it, Game Over. In-game maps were a thing of the future. We had to draw them out using pencil and paper, or have an excellent memory.

So how can you lose a life in Lumo? Well, almost every room has some sort of pitfall or enemy, ranging from a floor of spikes, lasers, bees, swirly spiky things, a bed of fire, acid baths, swirly fire things, and loads more besides. Oh, and how could I forget the cute little ducks.

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Now the actual ducks are innocent enough, happily floating in the acid without a care in the world. You do not have to collect them. You can quite easily carry on without any hassle, unless of course you have compassion and a compulsive tendency to grab anything you can – in the game obviously, I’m not a kleptomaniac.

So I make the little wizard jump and land on the duck, collecting it, but then fall into the acid and instantly lose a life. The pointy hat wearing character reappears in the location where he entered the room. I make a mental note of that and fear that it could be troublesome later on. After a few more attempts, I manage to time a second jump from the duck and back onto the safety of the stone floor, collecting it in the process.

… a feast of puzzles, conundrums, traps …
Later I would realize that dying after you have collected the duck means the duck reappears back in its original spot, unless you leave through any door and trigger a soft save. It isn’t just ducks to be collected, there are other things cleverly hidden throughout the massive dungeon. Even when I was Josh-ing the game, I failed to find most of them.

As you venture further into the large dungeon, you will encounter a feast of puzzles, conundrums, traps, and a wealth of borrowed gameplay elements from classic games. There are even a few nods to films and some elevator music that I could swear I’ve heard before. If only I still had my old “Your Sinclair” magazines.

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I welcome the ability to choose between three different control styles before starting the game, and being able to test them out too. Being comfortable with the precise controls is necessary if you want to make some of the more difficult jumps and accurately time some intricate movements.

I have refrained from showing any of the magical ways in which the gameplay changes in Lumo, or the brilliant locations you will encounter during your journey. Rest assured things get a little crazy later on.

… fixed in the isometric view …
Reaching the exit doesn’t feel like the end of the game, there were still things I had missed, doors that remained locked because I had failed to get to the top of a tower, an unknown quantity of collectables left waiting to be found.

Therefore, I would start again, finding the many unexplored rooms, items, and secrets this time. Maybe one day I would risk a speed run in the Old School mode, maybe I would even find all of the ducks too.

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Visuals:
A nice warm glow from the torches illuminates the stone surroundings. Only a few insects lurk in one or two rooms, the rest are eerily vacant as if the previous inhabitants left in a hurry and just disappeared.

Some areas allow you to move the camera ever so slightly to the left or right. Apart from that it remains fixed in the isometric view. With only the far walls being visible and a lack of a ceiling it gives the impression that you could almost jump up on top of the walls.

… scratches that extremely challenging old school itch …
The obstacles and dangers look great, very reminiscent of the old classics but now in glorious high-definition. I particularly enjoy the way everything seems to be made out of bubbles.

When the wizard dies, a bright glow and bubbles are momentarily left in his place. When a laser beam disperses, a faint line of bubbles is left behind.

Audio:
A few distinct chords ripple out through the speakers, louder than the almost ominous deep tones that continually thrum in the background as if the actual dungeon is alive all around you. Then you stumble upon a new item and the music builds giving a sense of achievement and wonder.

The charming little sound effects are lovely. From the little wizard’s footsteps that can be heard on the cold stone floor, to a crackle from the torches that adorn many a wall, and the fizz and hiss from a high-powered laser.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only but does feature a Leaderboard for the Old School mode, something that anyone should be proud of getting their name on.

Conclusion:
To misquote a line from the excellent RocknRolla, “There is no school like the old school and Gareth Noyce is the Headmaster.” You see, the founder of Triple Eh?, Mr. Noyce, is somewhat of an industry veteran and his creation, the wonderful Lumo, scratches that extremely challenging old school itch for many of us gamers.

So many little things made me smile, brief changes in gameplay, nods to films, distinctive music, graffiti, and loads more. If you have been around since the days of the Amstrad, Sinclair, Amiga, and even the Super Nintendo, you will enjoy this.

Lumo also manages to deliver the allure and challenge for new gamers with the more-forgiving adventure mode. It all looks and sounds fantastic, with a warm and inviting appeal that softens the countless deaths and masks the difficulty in a happy fuzzy blanket of fun.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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