In the world of iPad gaming, puzzle games still hold the spotlight.
Oftentimes, more casual iPad users prefer puzzle games; because, unlike more involved games such as Sid Meyers Pirates! and Grand Theft Auto III, puzzle games are much easier to pick up, play and then ignore. It’s a more passive type of gameplay, which is great for those who only have a spare 15 minutes here and there to throw an angry bird at some green pigs.
However, the sad truth about puzzle games is they often lack originality. For every Machinarium, Rise of Atlantis HD or World of Goo, there’s dozens of copies waiting in the wings that copy the same style, look and complexity. Heck, even Angry Birds is rumored to be a copy of Crush the Castle.
Therefore, creating a truly unique puzzle game that challenges the user without making him or her feel required to spend every minute with it is not that easy.
Lume HD for iPad succeeds in being a fresh new face to iPad puzzle gaming. Originally a downloadable Mac and PC release, Lume is a visually fantastic puzzle game that can both enlighten and frustrate the user — often simultaneously.
Unlike other games that rely on complex coding and graphic design in order to achieve the game’s look and feel, Lume’s environment was created using real sets. Cardboard, paper and real lighting were all used to give the game a stop-motion feel. The result is a unique indie style that would make Wes Anderson or the Coen Brothers very proud.
In the game, main character Lumi (who I’m assuming is a girl because of her hairstyle) arrives at her grandfather’s house only to discover he has left for the village because of a neighborhood-wide power outage. Lumi’s grandfather gives her the challenge of trying to get the house’s power back on, because apparently she’s extremely clever and resourceful.
I don’t know about Lumi, but I sure as heck am not extremely clever or resourceful when it comes to solving puzzles: In other words, this game is tough.
Even though it’s pretty short in length, it is really, really difficult. The puzzles are not for the mentally average — this game expects a lot from the user in terms of problem-solving skills. The puzzles use sight, sound and serious brain power to push the user into new ways of thinking. Even though I consider myself an avid gamer, I found myself stuck on several occasions, and had to turn to nearby friends in order to try and figure out where to go next.
After solving several puzzles and learning a bit about her grandfather’s life and interests, Lumi succeeds in her quest. It’s a rather anticlimactic ending, to be perfectly honest. Though to be fair, the game is only considered Part 1 of a continuing series about Lumi’s adventures.
I was extremely impressed with Lume’s imaginative style, complex puzzles and creative execution. However, I was admittedly disappointed with its short length and lack of a storyline I really cared about. Part of me wanted to just say “forget it” to the grandfather and let him deal with the blackout on his own. After all, what kind of grandfather makes everything a puzzle, especially in a dangerous situation like a neighborhood-wide blackout? That’s just begging for trouble.
I am looking forward to seeing what Lume does in the future; hopefully the story will become more complex the more we learn about the grandfather, his unique inventions and the neighborhood he lives in.
Lume is a beautiful and interesting game to play … one time through. I definitely recommend giving it a try, especially for the price. Just make sure your puzzle-solving skills are fully charged — otherwise you might find yourself in the dark.
Here’s an App Store link for Lume HD for iPad; it’s currently priced at $2.99.
Disclosure: A promo code for this game was provided by State of Play. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.