Lumen

A Review

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Awakened within her own dreams, a little girl must find a way to escape from a dream world filled with nightmares, guided by a mysterious voice and using a camera the entire way.

Lumen is a puzzle-based platformer. The player assumes the role of Lumen, a girl who is trapped inside of her own dreams, as she tries to find a way to escape from her nightmare. Throughout the game, the player is tasked with solving various puzzles that incorporate the strange camera that Lumen carries around her neck, ranging from tilting or shaking a photo of certain objects taken by the camera to solidifying platforms with the camera’s flash.

The controls for Lumen are fairly simple, yet come across as a bit clunky at times. While the movement controls are fairly simple to work with and very easy to learn, they can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance; there were a few occasions throughout the game where I needed to hide, but the button that needs to be pressed when prompted didn't want to work. Needless to say, sometimes the controls will work against the player and cause you to die, forcing the player to restart from the beginning of the level. Overall, the controls are actually rather decent and also very easy to learn, but can be aggravating when they choose not to work with you at random times.

Believe it or not, getting into this hiding spot wasn't exactly easy to accomplish. The controls really didn't want to work with me here, and I ended up dying a few times before it actually wanted to work. And this was at the very beginning of the game, no less.

From a visual standpoint, Lumen has a rather interesting appearance. It’s not very complex, but the environments definitely offer the feel of being inside a dream world. The graphics themselves also have very low requirements, so people with low-end systems are also capable of enjoying the game. However, I did find myself coming across a few things that weren’t very enjoyable with the game’s visual design. The first thing that I wasn’t too thrilled about was the rather large and somewhat obnoxious use of a blooming effect from anything that casts light in some way. Due to how much bloom was being cast from various objects during gameplay, I eventually had to tamper with some of the game files to attempt disabling the bloom effect; there were still various objects that were still abusing the bloom effect however, so that ended up being more of an adjustment than a disablement. The post-processing also seemed to cause some minor graphical errors when active, but turning that off seemed to stop those issues. The textures also seem rather poor in quality, with seemingly little detail having been put into them; examining them a bit more in depth also revealed that they seem rather blurry when you get close enough. Overall, the graphics are appealing in design at best, but relies too heavily on masking the flaws with lighting and shading effects.

The audio for this game is a bit of a mix between good and bad. While the music and the ambience actually help to assist with conveying the dream-like theme of the game, the voice acting seems a bit lazy. There are also several occasions where the audio clips for the voice acting would randomly be cut short and the next line would be played without any delay. Although not a major issue due to the subtitles being faster to read than listening to the voice acting, it does make the game seem like it needs a bit of tweaking.

The gameplay is rather simple, but also somewhat unique in its own way. While I can’t say that the concept of using just a single item at all times throughout a game is very original, there aren’t that many games that have the player’s character make use of a camera as the particular item of choice. There are many puzzles that incorporate the camera in some way, such as using the flash to temporarily turn a transparent platform into a solid platform or taking photos of certain objects in the world that block your path and then shaking or tilting the photo until the object is out of the way. At the same time though, some of the puzzles involve having to evade certain enemies that can all kill you in one hit. Although this normally wouldn’t be seen as a flaw, the AI in this game seems a bit too smart, easily spotting the player and killing them even if they are being stealthy. If it weren’t for the fact that dying causes you to go back to the beginning of the level and restart the particular puzzle that you happen to be on, this wouldn’t really be something that would be seen as an issue.

Overall, this game is actually decent. The graphics quality isn’t exactly the greatest, but it’s something that even low-end systems can handle fairly well. The music and ambience is also very nice, even capable enough to make up for the lazy voice acting. The game itself could do with some minor fixing here and there for the controls and the enemy AI, but was enjoyable in the end. If not for the sake of trying out something new, this something to at least play once to see how the general concept was put into action.

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Score

Graphics
6
Sound
7.5
Fun Factor
8
Gameplay
8.5
Difficulty
7.5
Overall
7.5

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Controls are fairly simple and easy to learn.
  • Interesting environments that fit the theme of the game.
  • Runs fairly decent on low-end systems.
  • Music and general ambiance of the game fit well for the game's theme.
  • Simple-yet-unique gameplay elements provide the player with interesting puzzles and ways of traversing through the game.
  • Generally fun for a puzzle-based platformer.
Cons
  • Controls can sometimes work against the player, leading to their death and causing the player to restart from the beginning of the level.
  • No "checkpoint" system for any progress made in a level to avoid restarting from the very beginning of a puzzle.
  • Excessive use of the bloom effect might cause problems for some players.
  • Graphics quality relies too much on masking certain flaws, which causes performance issues on some systems.
  • Voice acting seems a bit lazy, and tends to cut off before jumping to the next line immediately after.
  • AI seems a bit TOO smart at times, which can be a nuisance at times.

Reviewer

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Date Added
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