Remember Lume? Lume was a rather gorgeous adventure game that suffered due to some awkward puzzles. In a similar vein, Lumino City is just as beautiful to look at, but offers some shallow puzzles in return. Such beauty means that you’ll forgive it a lot of the time though, just about.
As before, you play a young girl called Lumi. Her grandfather has gone missing (not unlike in Lume), so off she goes to figure out what happened. The world is made of cardboard, felt, wood, and all sorts of other delightfully tactile looking things. Think of the stylings of something like LittleBigPlanet and you’re not far off. Just turning a corner to a new area feels spectacular as you watch the world turn with you, capturing a real sense of scale.
Lumino City is a very linear tale, hardly requiring any backtracking, so make sure to take in the surroundings whenever possible. That’s how pretty it is. You’re given a camera to take in-game shots, and I found myself often hitting the button just to appreciate a great new look. At times, you see the action drawn around you, as you enter a new section. It’s immediately heartwarming, even if you do soon realise it’s all a facade.
Despite initially seeming like a fairly typical adventure game, however, Lumino City soon feels more disjointed like that. Its many puzzles are offered up to you in a way that’s more like a Professor Layton game than a regular adventure. Most of these puzzles serve to unlock the next area of the game, meaning you soon feel like you’re repeating yourself. You enter a new area, chat to some quirky characters, before finding your way forward blocked. You then spend some time solving a puzzle to progress to the next section. It works, but it feels more shallow and less exciting than it could.
Those puzzles are reasonably interesting, at least. An early puzzle has you placing lemons on a fuse board, connecting up the electrical current to get things working again. Another time, you have to enter a room that’s a kind of giant camera, having you develop photos within, in order to fool a security camera.
At times, the puzzles are less clear which isn’t helped by hotspot issues. It’s sometimes tricky to tell what you can and can’t interact with, and the small screen of the iPhone further enhances this issue. On the plus side, you’re never overwhelmed by items, so you can generally figure out what you’re meant to be doing through a process of elimination.
One other form of assistance comes from a manual that you’re given at the start of the game. This book is huge, weighing in at hundreds of pages, but you can use it to find a solution to mostly anything. It’s also a puzzle within a puzzle, with its contents page offering a series of number based riddles that require answering before you know what page to consult. It’s a neat touch, meaning you earn your solution.
Lumino City rarely steps away from simply looking gorgeous though. Its storyline is pretty barebones, relying on you to be charmed by its good looks, rather than its depth. That goes some way to correcting its issues, but it also means you’ll keep wondering why it couldn’t have been better. It’s so close to being something really special, but doesn’t quite manage it.