PC, family friendly
I want to be up front about the fact that this entire review is building up to the moment where I write, “You might say it’s platform agnostic.” Right, let’s get there.
Lumote is a really very, very colourful game. Really very, very colourful indeed. In it you play as an alien octopus slug creature? It’s not entirely clear. What is, however, is that this is a game set in its very own setting, with its very own logic, and it’s rather good.
Lumote’s main mistake is right at the start. It sort of forgets to begin. If you’re a fan of no hand-holding, you’ll be delighted here, but it’s perhaps not the best way to introduce a puzzle game whose concepts are quite so odd. However, it’s really worth persisting.
In fact, let me do the leg work the game apparently didn’t have the energy for. Lumote’s is a red world that you want to turn blue. And that’s a motion we can all get behind, because we know that red is evil, and blue is good. To do this, your alien octopus slug creature (let’s call it octoslug, and ignore that it only has four arms) needs to, well, sit on things.
When octoslug sits on things that generate evil red, they turn blue. Hooray! There’s also purple, the Switzerland of colour, a neutral that can be turned either way. Sitting on those also turns them blue. To complete each puzzle section, you need to have all the red-generating flower-things turned blue, such that a great big flower gate opens to let you slime-hop your way through.
This is at its most obscure and confusing when it comes to the beds of plants that shrink and grow according to their current colour allegiance, and whether you’re on them, have put cuboids on them, pointed lasers at them, or goodness knows what else – and then go up once, twice, or down twice at once, and argh! It’s such a muddle without explanation, and takes a good amount of fiddling to get the hang of it.
Turning the red power-creating flower pad doodahs invariably involves landing seemingly sentient cuboids on top of them, these two controlled by octoslug when it lands on top and ‘possesses’ them. And much of the puzzling comes from how you can navigate the multi-tiered areas to gather enough blocks, and manoeuvre them about the level to get them into the right places.
Doing this involves negotiating an ever-growing number of obstacles, plant life, lasers, and the like. For instance, there are platforms that float on coloured laser beams, moving when powered by you or a cuboid, and then moving on red or blue lasers depending upon the present allegiance of said blocks. Or you can deliberately set them to purple, such that they stay still, unaffiliated with either perceived team. You might say it’s platform agnostic.
That was far more explaining-the-game-instead-of-reviewing-it than I normally like, but then at the same time, I had to get to that pun. But let’s do a proper job:
It’s really fun!
I’m good at this job.
It’s a really smart collection of puzzles, and it’s presented in the most spectacular fashion. The entire game, every single puzzle, is right there on screen at the start. A vast, towering complex of floating pathways, twisting and turning its way beneath you in a breathtaking fashion. The entire game is one contiguous route, with not a loading screen to be found. Red below you, blue above you.
This is accompanied by one of the most effective and splendid collections of sound effects that I can remember. The alien vista comes alive not just via its delicate animation, but the bubbling, glooping, blooping sounds that accompany every movement, growth, or change. It sounds utterly magnificent.
I’m a fair way into its puzzles, but have an awfully long way to go. As the complexity increases, the need for calm, careful exploration of each new section’s possibilities becomes more pronounced. It can look overwhelming at first, until I methodically break it down, start pulling at threads. And then when it all works, I feel frankly magnificent.
This is a big game, with AAA animation work, an extraordinary soundscape, and so much imagination. Definitely give this a look. Or barrage the devs with demands for a Switch version.