It’s perhaps a bit ironic that Lumino City, a puzzle adventure game – with more than decent puzzles no less – will be remembered solely for its visuals. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the game is beautiful and shallow, nor that gorgeous visuals have somehow turned it into the negation of intellectually oriented puzzle adventure genre. It only means that the graphics and the very method with which it was created are so unconventional and striking, that it simply surpasses everything else that this game has to offer. But that was a risk of which its authors, a London-based studio called State of Play, no doubt were aware when they‘ve embarked to scrupulously work on this project.
The peculiarity and the source of its effect lies in the fact that the graphics of Lumino City aren’t computer generated – instead every single detail, from the smallest, most insignificant shack of this surreal little mountain shanty town, to its giant spinning wheel, are lovingly crafted by a talented team of architects, modelers, and prop-makers, using actual materials such as paper and cardboard. In order to make everything even more life-like, designers added small electric motors to additionally animate objects, as well as a bunch of effects in the post-production. This technique, which involves a real miniature scene is more common in a certain type of animated movies, especially in Europe (although these days it’s a rarity even there), but it’s practically unheard of in modern video games production. That bestows it an aura of some old-timey, refined theatrical magic.
Lumino City is actually a sequel of sorts, continuing the story of State of Play’s previous creation, a short game called Lume. In Lumino City you’ll again lead Lumi, a little girl with a talent for solving puzzles. This time, her quest is also somehow connected with her grandfather. In Lumino City, we meet them practically right where we’ve left them in the Lume. Lumi’s granddad, a caretaker of the titular Lumino City, mentions some terrible trouble in the city. Unfortunately, just as he prepares to tell his granddaughter all about it (in the meantime she’s brewing tea downstairs), someone breaks into his house and kidnaps him. Lumi now must go after her granddad, traveling through the nooks and crannies of the Lumino City, meeting its quirky residents, overcoming obstacles and, of course, solving puzzles.
While playing Lumino City, you’ll have a strange and wonderful feeling that you’re traveling through a real world, which exists somewhere in miniature, a world as frail and exquisite as the intricate mechanism of Swiss music boxes. As for the puzzles, they are actually quite decent, they just pail in comparison with the gorgeous visuals of Lumino City. The game was released in the December of 2014 for Windows and iOS and, to this day, has the same mesmerizing effect on the gaming public – a thing that won’t likely change anytime soon.