Lume ReviewPublisher: State of Play
Platform: PC exclusive
UK Price (as reviewed): £4.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $9.99 (ex tax)
Reports of the death of adventure games may have been greatly exaggerated, but there’s no denying that the genre has shrunk in recent years. Still, we don’t think that’s a bad thing; it means adventure game developers are in it for the craft and the love, rather than to turn a quick buck by churning out low-quality, multiplatform shooters.
State of Play is one such developer and Lume is one such labour of love – a fact that's clear as soon as you get a look at the papercraft aesthetic. Lume’s world might be tiny even by the most forgiving standards, but that’s because it’s all been built in the real world out of real-world paper. Painstakingly assembled and filmed, these environments are then imported to the game and characters are overlaid on top. It’s a technique we haven’t seen since the oft-overlooked The Neverhood and, while difficult to produce, it's incredibly charming. Even Lume’s main menu is more beautiful than most big-budget shooters.
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Looks aren’t everything, though, and Lume’s heavily stylised look is supported by an equally cutesy story. The tale centres around a little girl, named Lumi, and her attempts to find and impress her Grandfather by restoring power to his gadget-riddled house. If that sounds like it’s too short a story to form the basis of an entire adventure game then that’s because it’s only part of a larger, on-going tale. Admittedly, that makes the value of an individual episode hard to gauge, but at least the brevity is adequately reflected in the price tag.
More of a sticking point than the price or brevity though is the nature of some of the puzzles, which often feel deliberately obtuse even when the saccharine setting is factored in. An early puzzle, for example, has players rerouting power through a transformer covered in encoded symbols. It’s immediately clear how to solve the conundrum; it’s merely rendered difficult by the needlessly vexing sigils.
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The majority of the puzzles are structured as one-off, trope-ish minigames too, rather than being built into the setting with the grace that you’d expect from a game that looks this pretty. If you’re immediately put off by musical locks or map puzzles, Lume is a title you’d be best off avoiding.
With that said though, gamers who are willing to let their brows furrow or who rightly recognise that adventure games are supposed to be puzzling will find a lot to love in Lume. It’s almost faultless in accomplishing what it sets out to achieve – to create a visually arresting and immediately accessible adventure game that all ages can enjoy – and it’s frankly refreshing to see a game that isn’t all about terrorists or space travel. We also have to admit though that, while we certainly swore at it on plenty of occasions, we also had a lot of fun playing it.
Lume isn’t going to be a game for everyone and will seem downright slow in the eyes of the YouTube generation. Those who can remember how adventure games are supposed to be played will find it to be a rare treat, however.