Lumino City is a point and click puzzle game a little out of the ordinary. As a direct sequel to the award winning Lume, a game made out of paper and cardboard entirely, Lumino City takes it even further. The six man team of Style of Play spent 3 years laser cutting and assembling paper and cardboard, using tiny motors and lights to make the city come to life. The result is a 10 foot high model city with a waterwheel centerpiece. Each motor and light is wired up individually, bringing the scenes to life in a rather unique way. The small team that made this possible collaborated with award-winning architects, fine-artists, prop-makers and animators, and you can see that in the quality of this product. There is something different about this game, and that is that it is actually hand made.
The first game came out in 2011, and was a rather short experience. However, it was never meant to be anything but a part of something bigger. Well, now the bigger part is here and lets you pick up where Lume left off. In Lume you play as Lumi, a young girl discovering that the power to her grandad’s house has failed. He is nowhere to be seen, but appears to have left some intriguing clues. You will have to solve your way through an intricate cardboard puzzle world to find him. Lumi welcomes Grandad back at the end of Lume, and this is where Lumino City picks up. Still playing as Lumi, you are thrown straight into another journey to find your Grandad again, as he has been brutally kidnapped.
This story is told with warmth and just enough wittiness to keep me interested. You are on your way to look for your recently kidnapped Grandad, and to find him you must find your way through Lumino City. A city that seems to silently suffer from attacks against the strangest of places. You meet the people affected, and help them if you can. In return you get bits and pieces of information that takes you one step closer to your Grandad and also gives you some new knowledge about him and who he is. I'm not going to spoil it for you, this is something you want to experience for yourself. As I mentioned, you meet and interact with several of the inhabitants of Lumino City, and even if dialogues are not very in depth at all, they do change if you click the right things in the right order. Some of them made me giggle a few times too, but I assume that would heavily depend on your sense of humor.
And in this story, puzzles are your key to progress and they have been made to fit well. It is definitely a classic puzzle in many ways, as you have to match pieces of broken images, connect thing-of-a-bobs to make a chain reaction work correctly and find patterns and remove what doesn't fit. They are not really hard to do, but can be finicky enough because it sometimes is a bit tricky to find the parts you need. If you get really stuck, you have an ingenious hint-feature in a huge book your Grandad left. In order to find the right page for the hint you need, you have to solve a math puzzle based on what you see on your screen in the area you struggle. It saves you from spoiling coming puzzles and definitely adds to the originality of the game. All in all, the puzzle part of the game is well made, and they are all based heavily on logic, math and memory. There are no "place the spaghetti and roller skates on the mummy" tasks here.
The graphics are totally unique and a definitive strong point in this game. Aesthetically this is one of the most warm and cozy atmospheres I have come across in the digital world. There is only so much a feel of cozy animation can give you, when you know something is real, it just clicks better. The lighting, precision and attention to detail is magnificent. Now, this is not me bowing down in awe completely. There are some things I would like to address that could have been done differently. I'm not sure if it is intentional or not, but sometimes the use of focus and blur is a little annoying. The depth of field effect you get is shallow, which means only a small part of the image is in sharp focus. It looks absolutely lovely and displays enough charm to make you forget about the puzzle sometimes, but it has its drawbacks. You might actually miss out on entire areas, because they are so out of focus they seem out of reach. Or you can't see the little do-hickey you need to finish your task.
The music is nice enough, it fits the game well but it's not special enough to be remembered. No characters have voices, there is just a small sound indication that something was said, all dialogue is displayed in familiar boxes of text. The sound effects on the other hand, are pretty good. Real sound clips for when someone tries to open a can with a hammer is just perfect.
I spent a good few hours clicking and shaking my head, made some coffee and went back in. Some puzzles were easy, some a bit harder, sometimes a puzzle was so easy I missed the point because I was looking for a more complicated way of solving it. But it was enjoyable, and it did not take away from the story. To wrap this up, would I recommend you spending some of you hard earned money on this hand made puzzle game? If you like puzzle solving, beautiful design and have some time to kill I definitely do. Lumino City will be available on Steam on December 3rd.