Lumi, the 2010 DreamBuildPlay winner is an action/puzzle/platform game, in a marvelous 2D universe. You control Lumi, a small creature with powers based on magnetism and light, and with the goal to save the universe sunk into darkness.
It goes without saying that Lumi oozes quality. Fresh from its win at the 2010 Dream-Build-Play competition, from the beautiful screenshots to its haunting and epic trailer, Lumi impresses every step of the way along his quest to restore peace to his land and free his friends from the evil which grips them. Lumi is a stunning platformer utilizing the sort of magnetism mechanics last seen in Super Magnetic Neo, an early Dreamcast platformer which also required players to master polarity to overcome the obstacles thrown in their way.
Lumi's little puffball and generate red and blue light when the player holds down either trigger which will either attract or repel Lumi to or from those colored objects. The vast majority of the game features Lumi leaping along red and blue spinners which float in the air and serve to launch Lumi to greater heights. Lumi can also use his lighting abilities to reflect projectiles or align himself with certain targets which would be otherwise invincible. Lumi's abilities also allows him to get absorbed into and ride floating light rails a la Pulseman, and learning the full compliment of uses for Lumi's powers is key to completing the game.
Lumi's quest takes him through nine levels and a special finale. Along the way, he'll encounter fireflies throughout most of the levels which are capable of lighting trees which is necessary to illuminate the level and unlock the exit. Checkpoints are available to restore Lumi's position should he die, and the game grants players infinite tries to complete a level which will help them tolerate the more difficult challenges the game puts before them. The biggest flaw in Lumi is how awful the game's difficulty curve is, throwing players for a loop after the initial few levels of getting to know Lumi. I went from losing no lives whatsoever across the first three levels to dumping 35 on level four, a forced scrolling boss chase which feels completely out of place for the game and way too early at that point in the narrative. The problem here is that the main platforming levels of which Lumi is primarily composed of are such relatively laidback affairs that these boss segments knock a player back hard on their rear, taking a sharp detour from the otherwise bearable platformer Lumi sets out to be.
Thankfully, no matter how frustrated I got due to the unpredictable difficulty spikes, I soldiered on because Lumi is that good of a game. The game is absolutely gorgeous, easily the best thing we'll see on Xbox Indies until perhaps the release of Dust: An Elysian Tail. Excellent animation, the stuning cinemas, and the amazing high definition artwork all go together to provide one of the best looking hand drawn platformers in recent years. The only spot of contention is in the arrow which indicates Lumi's flight path should he release himself from one of the spinners; what is meant to be a helpful guide is plagued by jerkiness and is best left ignored. I do wish French Developer Kydos did more to make the game levels more cohesive since there is nothing linking the stages together in the way of plot details, and roughly half of the levels use the same background soundtrack adding to a lack of identity beyond the changing backdrops. I also would have liked more levels, even additional acts within a level, as Lumi is over all to quickly those two boss related roadblocks notwithstanding.
Lumi is an excellent platformer and a wonderful addition to the Xbox Indie library. It's not quite the masterpiece it could have been as some minor control flaws, poor difficulty pacing, and a lack of depth keep Lumi from succeeding on the same level as its style and visuals do. Beyond those minor detractions, Lumi is most certainly worth checking out and a gem to behold for fans of the genre. Players should just be advised that the boss challenges bring with them a level of frustration not seen elsewhere in the game, although revisiting those levels later on do well to indicate what a better player one has become over the course of the game in mastering Lumi's powers to speed on by obstacles and defeat anything and everything which stands in his way.