Gaming - Lumini


The Defective Inspector investigates some of the IGF Indie Award nominees. Here is his Case File for Lumini...

Here is another IGF nominee gliding its way into my field of vision. Unlike the other two games I’ve looked at so far this game has been nominated for one IGF award; Excellence in Audio. However despite only being nominated for one award I find myself almost battling the corner of Lumini to appear in other categories. Want to know why? Reading is the price you must pay!

So what IS Lumini? Rather simple, you’re a collective group of axolotl-esque sprites which float through a crystalline cave searching for fragments to obtain more sprites while dodging oversized snails and floating beasts. How strange that may sound that fairly simple, it’s a side scrolling game where you must use various skills to dodge obstacles and various puzzles. If I wanted to compare this game at all I would affiliate it to games like Pikmin or Overlord, in the same way each of your semi-fish creatures has a unique skill while still retaining “the basics”. One group of creatures can damage hostile foes, another does a dash manoeuvre and another creates some sort of electric grabbing field. It’s dynamic, it’s colourful and very enjoyable!

Now it’s time to pick this game apart, see what makes it tick, so let’s go with the nomination first and plug on from there!

Excellence in Audio

You can break down the audio in any game to 3 things; music, sound effects and the use of the two in gameplay. This game succeeds in all 3 so the nomination is this category is not surprising. You can see from the images that the game is very much crystal based, more than likely to reflect the literal light thrown about the place, and the music really compliments that feeling of echoing whimsy. While I’ve yet to work out if the creatures you travel with are floating, swimming or flying, one thing I can be sure of is they glide in whatever medium they belong to. As you go throughout the strange underground world the music does change, it is not simply a constant because the world is not a constant. Though there is a very strong theme between fairy tale crystal-like wonderlands with a slight bit of mystical wonder, the music makes you feel like you’re exploring a place that has never been seen before. Essentially it is promoting your naturally inquisitive nature pushing you to travel further and further.

Complementing this wondrous melody are tiny little noises to reflect the delicate nature of everything you are doing. This game is fragility incarnate and so your pixies make baby noises and coos as you travel along, as if you were guiding them through their first lives and nurturing them to solve puzzles and overcome turmoil. This isn’t an unusual tactic, Pikmin’s little creatures had this effect and even the Overlord minions had a level of “aww bless” about them and that’s because it does work! Those tiny noises connect you to the creatures and thus it makes you care a little more when a vicious fat self-loathing DAMNED EVIL PIECE OF SH*T EATS ONE OF MY PRECIOUS BABIES….


Moving on…

Everything about these two pieces balance the rest of the game perfectly. Travelling through the crystal maze with delicate sounding creatures, listening to music which both calms and excites me, is amazing. Additional note, the deluxe version comes with the soundtrack… Get it, it’s worth it.

So you know the game now, but what about the other awards? I feel like IGF missed a trick a little here, I suspect the tough competition was the only reason Lumini wasn’t scattered in every category, as I couldn’t help but appreciate little things about the game beyond the flawless audio. I loved that I didn’t NEED to have a particular type of creature to solve a puzzle, it allowed me to play the way I wanted to play rather than having my arm bent back all the time to follow “the rules”. Speaking of rules this game took a little twist away from the normal way of playing games like this. Sometimes when you have a collective set of fairies you must tell one group to stay in one place and await further instructions to return to the hive. In THIS game you can technically control 2 separate groups at the same time, this maybe simple but it’s rather beautifully done using the 2 analogue sticks provided on traditional Xbox controllers (The preferred choice for the game). I once had to spin 2 wheels at once and it felt like a rather natural but also enjoyable progression in gameplay.


Visually the game is lovely and I think of all the awards missed it could have fallen into this category. I enjoyed taking my little magical fish-things through the caves. In fact, every so often, I would just float around safe spaces just… floating. I’d make shapes, use dash manoeuvres and enjoy the scenery and the quirkiness of the world. This is fairly odd for me as I play A LOT of games and sometimes I just want to rush through to get to the new puzzle or next boss. But here… I just… enjoyed myself and appreciated the work that went into making the world I greatly enjoyed. As I flew my tiny kin closer to the prism, watching the light reflect and bounce, I felt a sense of calm euphoria sweep over me. Sometimes my wandering around into the strange voids actually revealed new secret areas so clearly the guys of Speelbaars WANTED me to float free and get lost in this little world of theirs. Frankly I’m just doing as I am subconsciously told… Peacefully of course…

Regardless of nominations this game is a whimsical dance through an enchanting world and frankly I’ll play it again, award or not.

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