Xbox Live Indie Games has become a great service for grabbing incredibly cheap games on a whim. With so many priced at 80 MS points – that’s a single dollar, in monetary terms – it’s easy to grab a game without having to care too much about whether it’s a masterpiece or not.
Kydos Studio’s Lumi has been on our radar ever since it was crowned the winner of Microsoft’s Dream-Build-Play 2010 competition. That incredible-looking trailer helped to pique our interest too. So when the game was released for 400 MS points – the most expensive price an XBLIG game can be, and a pricetag which you barely ever see on the service – it definitely turned a few heads.
Lumi has a great concept and a lot of style, with some lovely visuals and backdrops. The action gets rather frustrating towards the end, with one-hit deaths a big issue, but you’ll most likely be won over by the oodles of charm on show.
You take control of a small bouncy creature called Lumi, and your task is to bring light back to the world by collecting fireflies and releasing them into light plants. Lumi gets around the place using him magnetism powers, and some handily-placed vortexes.
Holding the left trigger will make Lumi glow blue, while holding right will make him see red. If our hero touches a blue vortex while glowing blue himself, he’ll spin in a circle around it. Release the trigger and he’ll fly off, keeping the momentum. Red vortexes plus red glow have the same effect. This method can be used to reach higher ground, or fireflies in hard to reach places.
Initially it’s quite tricky to grasp the idea. There’s a short tutorial level, but it doesn’t fully explain how the concept works. The idea is that when you launch off a vortex, if you hit the opposite colour trigger you’ll fly much further. This isn’t properly explained, so for the first ten minutes or so, I wasn’t being very successful.
Still, once the inner workings are fully realised, it becomes a doddle and you’ll be pulling off spectacular leaps and bounds. Vortexes are all lined up in such a way that you can jump between them without returning back to the ground. It’s a simple yet brilliant control scheme that works just as it should.
Apart from vortexes, there are also glowing lines of blue and red which Lumi can travel down. These are great fun to travel, and make up a lot of the action in the later levels.
Once enough fireflies have been collected and plants been fed, the exit portal will open, allowing you to progress. Collecting every single thing in the level will earn you a 100% rating for that level. Strangely, the percentages don’t fully seem to work – on a number of levels, I did not light up every tree, and when I completed the level it told me I’d done 80% of it. Yet then when I visited the world map, it stated that I’ve 100%ed the level. Whether this is a bug or not, I’m not quite sure.
Apart from the firefly collection levels, there are some really interesting boss battles that require you dodge huge insect beasts and attack them from different angles. While these levels are cleverly designed, they are also rather frustrating. Lumi will die from a single hit, and so every leap and maneuver must be done with precision. These levels could have been the icing on the cake, but instead I found myself wishing there had been more fireflies!
There are nine levels to play through in total, and the whole game will take you around 90 minutes to complete. It’s a fair amount of content – especially for an Xbox Live Indie Game – but it’s perhaps on the short side. Still, for the relatively low price (compared to your average game, obviously), there’s definitely enough here to fill an evening.
Lumi is really quite a gorgeous-looking thing, with beautiful backdrops and great effects. Vortexes glow as Lumi whizzes around, leaving a trail of light in his path. Visually, this is definitely one of the finest XBLIG games to date.
The only issue I had was the contrast between the art styles of the backdrops and levels versus the characters. The enemies, friends and Lumi himself are all animated in a comic-style, with huge eyes and silly bounces. Against the gorgeous background, it feels a little awkward. It’s only a minor annoyance though, and takes nothing away from the rest of the beauty.
The soundtrack is a calming blend, setting each scene perfectly, from the dark, quiet forests to the dank caves. No complaints from us.
The Lumi are minding their own business, when suddenly a huge dark vortex shallows their planet. Our hero sets off on an adventure to bring light back to the land, and get rid of the evil presence.
There isn’t really much of a story told during play – there isn’t a single shred of dialogue – but Lumi really isn’t the kind of game that needs words. It doesn’t look like the Lumi have mouths anyway, so if they started talking, that would just be rather silly.
Hence, in this case, a lack of a proper story is a good thing.
Lumi is a lovingly crafted experience that is fun and frustrating in equal measures. The one million dollar question is ‘Is it worth the 400 MS point asking price?’.
The answer is an awkward one – depending on the value you put on games, it may or may not be. Your best bet is to download the demo and see what vibe you get from it. Chances are the price will drop after a few months, so if you don’t feel it’s worth that much, you may be best to wait.
Either way, this is a great addition to the Xbox Live Indie Games service.