I try out many more games than I finish – even when they’re short – from a combination of lack of attention span and lack of skill. So it stands out to me when I finish a game of more than trivial length. This weekend I played through the end of Lumino City and I can say with confidence that I would have finished this one off even without a snowstorm keeping me inside.
The major selling point of Lumino City, which of itself is enough to make it worthwhile, is the artwork. The scenes in the game are entirely handmade out of “paper, card, miniature lights and motors”. As you explore the game world, you navigate your character through scale models. The effect is beautiful, and when you remember to think about the work that must have gone into pulling it off, it’s awe inspiring. Even if you aren’t a point-and-click puzzle game fan (or a game fan in general) I highly recommend watching the game trailer at their site to get a sense of the scale of this thing. In fact, if you’ve played the game, go back and watch the video again – I had forgot that the literally built the whole game world as a massive model they could pan a camera around, though it makes sense as I remember how transitions between scenes take place as one portion of the world fades out of focus as the next fades in.
As far as game play, I enjoyed it quite a bit as well. I found the challenge level of the puzzles about right for a casual game where I wanted to enjoy the world as much as my activities in it. None of them rush you through, and they support the story. It’s natural in this sort of game to be aware of the puzzles as a somewhat artificial barrier constructed for the purpose of stopping you from progressing, but the content of the puzzles does support the presentation of the world and the progression of the story (though this is not a story-heavy game).
I really liked how the game built in hints, embedding them in a book the character’s grandfather gives her at the start of the game. The book is not just a short manual of puzzle solutions, though; to find the hints for a puzzle, you first have to solve a math problem based around properties of the puzzle you are stuck on to compute which of the 800-some pages in the manual you’ll find that hint on. I like that model of having to solve a smaller mini-puzzle to get the hint, as well as the fact that that extra bit of friction keeps you from turning to a hint page without being sure you want to or accidentally seeing a hint for the next puzzle when looking up the one you’re trying to find.