Lumini is a truly captivating and enchanting gaming experience, slowly luring the player into the forgotten world of these tiny, glowing, and very mystical creatures. The Lumini have returned to their home planet after thousands of years to restore balance to their natural environment and preserve the future for their species. As they venture further, the swarm is slowly restored and can begin to evolve in preparation for the dangers that lurk ahead, as their once beautiful planet has now become a hostile and dangerous place to be. There are puzzles and obstacles to overcome and their fate is entirely in the hands of the player.
The menu is basic, with just enough information to begin playing, but the game continues in a very natural way that introduces the player to each new development effortlessly and without the need for complicated tutorials or having to memorise lots of different controls. At first the controls do seem a little over sensitive as the Lumini unexpectedly dart about but as the colony is gradually restored, it begins to resemble a murmuration of starlings drifting gracefully through the environment.
There are no captions or voice overs to tell the story (which feels a little mystifying at first) but as the initial Lumini appear, these uncertainties very quickly disappear. The game saves automatically when they reach the glowing milestones and the scenes flow effortlessly from one into the next. The Lumini chirp contentedly as they skate across the surface of pools together, but they also squeal when they get hurt by enemies or hazardous pointed rock edges. These interactions with their environment really bring them to life but also emphasise the responsibility of the player to protect them from harm.
The only issue with the game is that on 4 or 5 occasions the Lumini managed to completely escape through invisible gaps in the scenery and, although at first it was a surprise, it was quite enchanting to fly around exploring the levels and discovering all the hidden details and scenery from the outside. The music continued but there were no obstacles or enemies and it was just as relaxing as playing the game normally. It was occasionally not possible to re-enter, though it didn’t really matter as the game picked up from the last save point and nothing was actually lost.
Lumini is set in a fantasy world with a thought-provoking storyline that is subtle, yet engaging and instils a protective nature upon player, encouraging them to shield the Lumini and guide them to safety. This is quite a unique concept as it requires the player to pay closer attention which in turn immerses them deeper in the game. In the dark environment, the glow from the Lumini enhances the surrounding areas revealing hidden crystals and ancient hieroglyphics which gradually reveal more to the story. The soundtrack is fascinating, continuously adapting to warn of any impeding danger as the Lumini move around and guide them onward with a mysterious musical energy.
Although they can only move around the foreground in 2D, the Lumini are able to interact with the 3D background scenes which resemble a living, breathing environment including falling leaves, prehistoric creatures and picturesque waterfalls. The subtle balance of beautiful colours, visual narrative, atmospheric music and organic landscape merge seamlessly to create a peaceful and relaxing playing experience which is almost impossible not to become lost in.
If this game wasn’t so immersive it might be suitable for a younger audience, but it could certainly cause some fright and upset seeing those innocent little Lumini flying straight into the sharp-teethed mouth of an enemy, shrieking and squealing as they are eaten alive and being the one responsible for it! But from an adult perspective, the balance of the hostile landscape and the beasts that lurk in the dark behind each corner, and freedom to fly around and to just enjoy the beauty of the landscape with no time constraints is the perfect equilibrium. This seemingly effortless stability is often very easily toppled off balance, sliding towards frustration or boredom in many games, so Speelbaars deserve some serious credit here as it’s obviously not that easy to achieve.
It is very enjoyable to replay as there are lots of hidden areas to find and puzzles to solve which require the Lumini to split into two groups and move simultaneously to open secret areas, but they don’t all have to be completed to move onwards and are not too difficult. It is possible to rush through Lumini fairly quickly, but this is the kind of game that can be enjoyed at any pace and doesn’t lose its appeal no matter how many times it is replayed. Possibly the most unique quality about this game is that it can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone who needs a break from anything – even a break from a more demanding game! It wont appeal to everyone, but it serves it’s purpose and isn’t claiming to be something it is not, and for less than £10 it is definitely worth playing.
It seems so rare to come across a game that can truly achieve its objective, but with the combination of tranquil adaptive music, beautiful scenery and the mesmerising, flowing movements and colours, Lumini seems to genuinely allow the stress and worries of life to melt away.