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Lumini Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Lumini creates a fascinating new world filled with unique alien creatures and gorgeous backgrounds. Unfortunately, the gameplay is too repetitive and the whole thing is over in less than two hours. The soothing atmosphere may be unique, but it's not enough to keep this action/adventure game interesting from start to finish. Rating: 57%
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  • C+
To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way." This appears to be the case in Lumini, the brand new action/adventure game from Dutch indie outfit Speelbaars. When a single flying fish creature breaks free on a hostile alien planet, it's forced to repopulate the species and make a pilgrimage to safety. The result is both emotionally satisfying and disappointingly shallow.

Even without chatty characters or a lengthy tutorial, we're able to figure out that simply collecting the planet's glowing flowers will increase the size of the flock. This sends our winged hero on a hunt to collect the planet's foliage and bring it back to the cubed checkpoints. But beware; there are enemies who will stop at nothing to decrease the size of your swarm.

These little Lumini creatures may all look the same, but each one is marked by a color. Blue characters are able to swim fast, allowing them to get away from predators. On the other hand, the red Luminis are able to attack the enemies, sending a devastating blast to anybody nearby. There's also yellow variations, which use an electric attack to clear paths. While there are individual uses for each fish, you'll need to string the powers together in order to keep the flock safe.

Normally the group acts as a single unit, always flying where the leader is going. But there are a lot of times when you'll need to split the swarm up into two groups. This is where things get complicated. Splitting the group will send half in a different direction, which you control using the right analog stick. This means that you'll need to move both groups together, one using the left analog stick and the other using the right. This proves more difficult than it sounds.

Lumini (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, that's the only thing difficult about Lumini. From start to finish, I found there to be little in the way of challenge. There are only a few enemy types, each with a predictable attack that won't take long to memorize. And even when a Venus fly trap takes a bite, you'll only lose one or two flying fish. There was never a point where I feared I would have to start over from the checkpoint. The game opts for soothing relaxation over tense action.

It's also not very long. I managed to fly my flock to safety in just over an hour and a half, including the credits. This opened up a harder difficulty, but by that point I felt like I had seen what the game had to offer. I can only imagine how much more satisfying that initial victory would have been if there was some sense of struggle involved. And thanks to the linear levels, there's never even a point where you'll get lost. The game's lack of challenge is really disappointing.

Lumini (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Lumini's gorgeous presentation makes up for some of the imperfections. At first it looks like we'll be stuck underground the whole time, but the game quickly opens up to explore an ever-changing alien world. You'll see the story play out in the backgrounds, giving you a greater sense of context. The side-scrolling action is easy to control and fun to look at. Plus, the atmospheric music and nature sound effects are a great addition that really put me in the mood.

But even with the beautiful art direction and melodic soundtrack, I couldn't get past the game's shallowness. The multi-colored flying fish seem like an interesting gimmick at first, but not enough is done with the concept. Instead of finding new ways to use their powers, you'll see a lot of the same puzzles repeated ad nauseam. Even at less than two hours, repetition is a big concern in Lumini.

Although it's never named, the world Speelbaars has created is fascinating and full of mysteries. It's almost a shame that the game wedged inside that world is so pedestrian. It's a good looking game that makes a great first impression, but the short length and repetitive gameplay prevent Lumini from really taking flight.
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