A couple weeks ago I reported on the existence of Lume, a gorgeous new point-and-click adventure game made by State of Play Games. The premise behind the game was fascinating and refreshing, and it looked like this would be a new indie darling in a year full of solid solid indie gems. Unfortunately, while it does deliver in spades visually, it falls a bit short in all other aspects.
If you can’t recall, or are just too lazy to click the link in the first paragraph, the wonder and amazement surrounding Lume is centered around the fact that the backgrounds and scenes of the game are actual sets that exist in real life. State of Play crafted multiple sets out of cardboard and various other goodies and recorded the entire thing with a video camera to use for the game. So when you walk from one area to the next, or enter the house and exit, there is actual cinematography happening; you can literally notice that the camera is truly operated by a human being, with the signature erratic movements and slightly out-of-focus moments definitely apparent.
That concept itself lends tons of charm to the game; I’m pretty sure it’s the only reason why Lume is garnering such buzz amongst us indie-heads. The story isn’t exactly creative or interesting; as Lumi, your task is to restore electricity in your grandpa’s house using various stuff you find around the house. And of course, your gramps adores puzzles, so he’s locked up most everything useful with seemingly cryptic puzzles.
This is where the first major fault of Lume lies: all but one of the puzzles are utterly simplistic, and that one puzzle seemingly makes up for it by being the most obscure, esoteric puzzle I’ve ever experienced in a game. The clues are there, but the nature of the puzzle is just so frustratingly ambiguous that I actually had to use a walkthrough to figure out the solution. Without the walkthrough, I may have not put the pieces together at all; that’s how nebulous the clues were.
Surely, one obscure puzzle is forgivable; most adventure games do have one that sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a problem with Lume though because there’s only four or five puzzles in the game total. If it weren’t for that mindbender of a puzzle, I would have finished the game in fifteen minutes, half an hour tops. I could understand the theoretical cost of hand-building sets and shooting them, but regardless, paying $6.99 for half an hour to an hour of unsatisfying play is just inexcusable in this day and age.
Sadly, if I look past the striking visuals, there isn’t much to Lume. The charm overflows from Lume’s orifices like that from my body the morning after a night of heavy drinking and Mexican food, but it unfortunately isn’t enough to compensate for elementary/obscure puzzles and a pathetic length. This is supposedly the first episode of a series; I certainly hope they recognize these criticisms and address them, as the world still has an endless amount of potential. I’ll keep an open mind, but until then, you’d probably be better off playing an adventure game that’s a bit more substantial.