Lumione Review – Robust Optimism

    Title: Lumione
    Developer: Glimmer Studio
    Release Date: October 13, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Perfect World Games Singapore Pte Ltd
    Genre: 2D Platformer

Dedication and acceptance are two of the most vital traits that apply to success in any gaming genre, but none fit these terms quite like precision platformers. The Glimmer Studio developed Lumione snugly fits this tried-and-true design. While it doesn’t break new ground for the genre, it provides undeniably stellar and strict platforming design worthy of esteem.

Lumione focuses on protagonist Glimmer, a young deep-sea fairy following the path of the Light to learn more about himself and the world. Despite this vague goal, it is the stepping stone for engaging characterization and deep moments of dialogue. Glimmer initially faces an ailment of the mind, dealing with an overwhelming degree of ineptitude, but he eventually comes to face this dilemma and realizes his true potential.

Arising from humble beginnings and emerging as a strengthened individual regardless of background is a classic character arc. Still, it works well enough here to keep players at least remotely engaged in the goings-on between the strenuous platforming challenges.

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Most of the game revolves around platforming and will be what players will be tackling for several hours. Glimmer must prevail against numerous platforming challenges by utilizing the standard tools of the trade, such as timed jumping and ledge grabbing. However, the central gimmick is Flight. For a brief period, Glimmer can float across the air with adjustable distance and height. This functionality may sound overly generous, as I initially thought it would be a crutch in execution, but I was wrong.

Every area is built around this Flight mechanic, making it feel like a natural part of Glimmer’s arsenal. As a result, my opening fears of this being a get out of jail free card quickly vanished after a few screens. It is imperative to point out here that Lumione is a brutal, unforgiving game. When encountering any screen for the first time, there are bound to be dozens of failures from the average player. To emphasize the word ‘precision,’ you do indeed need to be deliberate in every movement possible, from the wall-jumping to the briefest instances of mid-directional Flight.

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There isn’t much to say regarding the specifics of the level design as it is simple to parse visually but fathoms more challenging to execute in real-time. Still, there are a few instances where the game presents players with elementary scenarios when they have to think unconventionally. For example, these miniature black spheres are surrounded by rocks in all four cardinal directions in the third area. Jumping on any of the stones’ sides will push them in the expected direction while pushing players in the opposing one. Often, especially in the latter half of the area, players must navigate around the stones to move them in ways that create pseudo-horizontal bridges forward.

Additionally, even the tiniest segments of the screen are occupied by hazardous material to prevent any potential avoidance of forced obstacles. After playing for a few hours, it becomes abundantly clear that the developers truly poured their all into making this platforming experience as polished and satisfying as possible. The simple control scheme does wonders to amplify the sheer grueling difficulty.

This game is aimed towards those who don’t mind enduring failure repeatedly before making any notable progress, so if that’s not your jam, you should reconsider playing this title. Personally, though, this gameplay design is simultaneously euphoric and cathartic, making any semblances of progress feel like an actual crowning achievement. Self-improvement is the crux of enjoyable gaming experiences, and Lumione excels at that facet in spades.

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Unfortunately, there are some lite critiques that emerge. Firstly are the area aesthetics. While each area differs in visual appeal, I found a notable lack of distinctive landmarks to make them memorable. This especially stood out to me because the innate lighting and character designs are gorgeous, so the lacking of complementary treatment to the areas themselves was disappointing, resulting in a dull presentation.

That isn’t to say the areas were altogether horrid looking, though; nothing of the sort. It’s just that the repetition of visual treatment from screen to screen grew a tad dreary. I think having frequent, non-intrusive eye candy to spruce up the scenery would’ve provided even more reason to keep prevailing aside from overcoming the platforming challenges. In addition, that would’ve helped make each area’s intricacies more memorable than one massive mass.

The safeness of the area visual designs was likely done for practicality, so the environments did not inhibit gameplay. If so, I understand entirely. Still, there is an undeniable sense of lost opportunity there—different puzzle gimmicks from area to area aid in providing identity, at least.

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Moving on is the slightly wonky hit detection. This is far from a common occurrence, but every so often, I would be able to stand atop a spiked wall that I should not be able to. I never managed to brute force my way through puzzles this way, thankfully, but it didn’t stop me from trying. These occurrences do seem incredibly rare, though, so I wouldn’t worry about encountering them, but they are worth keeping in mind. I primarily dealt with this in the first area.

The soundtrack of Lumione emits atmospheric majesty that deserves immense praise. Every track boasts a sense of wayward, hesitant uncertainty that lines up with Glimmer’s character conflict. These songs act as wonderful oppositional accompaniments to the frustrations brought upon by the difficult platforming. A few thrilling tracks during specific scenarios also up the ante. None of these tracks really stuck with me in the long term, but they perform their jobs admirably in their respective moments.

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Lumione is an addicting, fulfilling, and immersive 2D precision platformer that nails the cathartic joy that results from overcoming fair, well-designed challenges. Even with the unrealized art direction, each area boasts different puzzle gimmicks to make them stand out. Of course, the additions of a heartwarming narrative alongside a mostly calming soundtrack don’t hurt either.

If you desire a qualitative, hardcore platformer that demands unquestionable skill, then this is the game for you. While not possessing any particular traits that make it stand out from the hotbed of its genre, Lumione is still a joyous experience that should not be overlooked.

Score:
8/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.