A game by Kydos Studio for Xbox 360 and iOS, originally released in 2010.
Lumi starts you out in an idyllic world filled with green grass, a clear blue sky, brightly colored flowers and trees, and plenty of cute little round-eared puffballs with nothing more to do with their days than bounce around the beautiful countryside. But the wonders of this puffball paradise don’t last long, as their entire planet is suddenly sucked into a mysterious dark void, draining all the light from it. You play as a bioluminescent puffball who is tasked with restoring the light to the world and banishing the darkness.
While there are some puzzle elements to be found, this game doesn’t really fall into the puzzle-platformer category. On the other hand, it’s also not entirely a straightforward platformer either, due to the way that you navigate the world. You see, in addition to running and jumping, you also have the ability to attract yourself to certain objects in the environment. By holding down the right trigger, you will be attracted toward red objects, and by holding down the left, you will be attracted toward blue. This works somewhat similarly to Super Magnetic Neo on the Dreamcast, what with its color-coded attraction and repulsion system, but since the game plays out entirely in 2D, it is actually more similar to Nintendo’s Bit Generation title Orbital on the GBA (re-released as Orbient on WiiWare).
The reason for this is that most of the objects that you will attract to are round, and they vary in size. The larger the size, the more “gravity” it has, and therefore the stronger your attraction will be. There are even some large attraction points that have smaller ones orbiting them, and in later levels, you’ll encounter situations where you’re essentially jumping from one attraction point to another in a solar system-like structure, with multiple satellites orbiting on their own paths at a set distance away from the center.
When you attract to one of these points, you’ll stick to it, and since each of these points is spinning, you’ll start to move in a circle around it. This is the crux of the gameplay, and it’s how you’ll navigate through much of the environment. Knowing when to let off of the trigger is the key to reaching higher platforms and new attraction points, and a yellow arrow will indicate your launch trajectory. For an added effect, you can let off of one trigger and press the opposite one, which will actually repel you and allow you to launch yourself a much greater distance. Mastery of these techniques is absolutely required for making it through the game.
You can also use these attraction points to adjust your heading. By hitting the correct trigger when you’re flying past one, you will curve in that direction, even if you don’t manage to attract all the way to it. This is especially true of the larger attraction points, as their “gravity well” effect is much greater.
There are a few alternate types of gravity points than just your standard red or blue. For one, you will encounter white points, which will allow you to attract to them regardless of which trigger you are holding. Once you touch them, they will change to the corresponding color. However, be aware that if you die during the course of the level, the colors will remain, so it will become necessary to use the correct trigger on your next attempt. There are also some attraction points that shrink and become unusable for a few seconds. This will prevent you from attracting to them, and will cause you to fall if you are holding onto one at the time.
There are also some cannons in the game. When you enter one of these, you can press the A button to eject yourself with great force. Many of these cannons rotate, so it’s important to wait until it is positioned properly so that you can line up the next attraction point or another cannon. There are also some red and blue “slides” made out of light that hover in the air. Press the corresponding trigger and you will attract to the slide and travel down its path. At the end, you will be launched off as if fired from a cannon, but you can also let off of the trigger at any point to be launched in the direction that you are traveling.
Your goal in many of the levels is to collect as many fireflies as you can and use them to restore light to the environment. These levels take place mostly in darkness, as you make your way through the area while attempting to avoid obstacles that will kill you, such as falling into pools of water. There are a few enemies spread throughout, but these are actually just your puffball friends transformed into hideous monsters. Some of them can be hopped upon to restore them to their previous form (and award you with fireflies), while others will fire red and blue projectiles at you, which you will need to repel back at them by pressing the trigger opposite of the color.
Spread throughout the levels are trees, and when you get to these, you can press the Y button to release your fireflies. Release enough, and the tree will suddenly start to glow and light will be restored to that portion of the level. This sometimes opens up additional paths through the level as well, or reveals the exit.
Lumi is a very visually-polished title, with varied environments, ranging from the rolling hills of the bright and colorful opening level, to dark forests and caves, icy windblown cliffs, towering stone structures jutting out of the water, and abstract and chaotic worlds of black and white. The characters are strongly designed as well, from the cute big-eyed puffballs to the stitched and toothy creations they become when entering the world of darkness.
Checkpoints are spread fairly liberally throughout this 9-level game, but not so much so that you can rely on them to make up for all of your platforming and attraction-repulsion mishaps. Also, the checkpoints can sometimes be difficult to find, especially in the darkness, and you have to touch them in order to activate them, after which they will light up. You will need to make a lot of precision jumps between attraction points throughout the game, often stringing multiple jumps together without falling. Given that judging your constantly changing trajectory from a spinning orb can be difficult, you may find yourself backtracking or returning to these checkpoints often.
There are also a couple of situations where failure to string together a successful series of jumps will drop you back down to the floor of the environment with no way to get back since none of the attraction points are low enough to the ground to reach. One such point is in level 4 where you must run away from a huge charging beast that runs along the floor of the forest. For most of this chase, you must jump from point to point and stay off of the ground, both to avoid the creature and the pools of deadly water that are spread throughout. After about the midway point (and a checkpoint, thankfully), falling down anywhere in the level will keep you from being able to escape the creature or exit the level.
Since speed is of the essence, you will need to not only be skilled at grabbing attraction points and jumping between them, but you’ll also need to memorize some of their locations and colors so that you can successfully complete the run, making death a necessity for completing the level, something you may do many times over before completing it. Fortunately, these situations are rare, but you’ll still need to master the attraction-repulsion mechanic if you hope to see the game through to the end.
Lumi was developed by Kydos Studio, whose members were inspired by the gameplay of LocoRoco and the colorful worlds of Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Kydos is a small studio based in France, which was founded in 2009 by Christophe Panattoni and Nicolas Daures. Both had been employed for several years at French Development house Étranges Libellules (translates to Strange Dragonflies), which is best known for developing several games in the Asterisk and Obelisk series, as well as The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (2008) and Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Later, they brought in another member from the same studio, Matthiew Akita. Akita is of French-Japanese descent, and was born in Tokyo, lived in New York, and went to school in Lyon, France. He was also employed by Étranges Libellules (which is based in Lyon) and worked on Asterisk and Obelisk XXL2 and Arthur and the Invisibles. He has also worked on a French comic book series based on Tom Sawyer, which was started in 2006.
The core focus of Kydos Studio is to create games for the iPhone and the Xbox Live Indie Games channel. They have already gained a fair amount of recognition for their work, and Lumi took home the top prize in Microsoft’s 2010 Dream Build Play competition. Prior to Lumi’s release, they already had a number of titles under their belts, especially for the short life span of the studio.
The other game that the studio is probably best known for is Soul, a surreal action-puzzler which was released earlier in 2010. The game was created by Christophe Panattoni and Nicolas Daures, and this was the first game in which Mathieu Akita was involved.
In Soul, you control the soul of a dead man which is trying to get to heaven. The game starts in a dark and dingy hospital room, and you hear the sound of a flatline. You see a dead man lying on a table, and shadowy figures with huge teeth are moving across the floor and ceiling, toward the body. You are told only that you need to escape.
Once you make it out of the room, you will encounter several single-screen rooms, most of which have a maze-like path leading to the exit, which is laden with traps and shadow creatures. In a similar manner to Irritating Stick, you must make precision movements through tight areas without touching the walls. If you touch a wall or enemy, or succumb to one of the many traps (such as falling elevators or water rushing through a tunnel), you’ll be transported back to the entrance of the level, and you’ll have to try again. There is a fair amount of trial and error here, as often you will be unaware of a lurking danger until it pops up and bites you in the… er, soul.
Although the game doesn’t make any overt statements about religion or the nature of man, the world seems to have some sort of message. For instance, when your soul is freed from your body, why doesn’t it ascend directly to heaven, or get pulled into hell? Why would you be forced to navigate the halls of the hospital (and other environments) to make your escape? Why is everything broken down, unkept, and covered in dirt and grime? What are these shadow creatures and why are they trying to stop you?
While this isn’t really a horror game, the environments do lend themselves to a sense of dread. You’ll move through very gritty areas filled with darkness and dirt, find swarms of buzzing flies, and even occasionally have a twisted face pop on the screen and let out a scream.
On the lower difficulty settings, you essentially have infinite opportunities to complete the game, but you can challenge yourself with a higher difficulty that adds a timer and a set number of lives, forcing you to move more quickly, and more carefully. But there are no saves, and no checkpoints; you have to complete the whole game in a single sitting.
The game is available on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel, as well as the iPhone. On XBLIG, you control the soul with the left analogue stick, and you are able to see the whole area at once. On the iPhone, you control your movement by tilting the device, making it more like a game of Labyrinth, and you have to zoom out to see the entire level. Either way you play, patience and perseverance are required if you hope to stay out of hell.
In 2009, Kydos released an iPhone puzzle game called Block Challenge. The goal is to change the colors of individual blocks to create groups of the same color. Clearing larger groups of blocks earns you a larger score. In addition to the more-or-less straightforward puzzling, there’s also a mode that allows you to tilt your iPhone to slide blocks around the environment in order to line them up properly. The game features 100 puzzle levels.
Earlier in the same year, they released Powa Volley to XBLIG and iPhone. This is a volleyball game which features 8 different characters, each with different abilities. For instance, one character has the ability to double-jump, another can smash the ball really hard, and another can freeze time for a few seconds. There are 4 courts set in different environments, and the game allows up to 4 players to play simultaneously. In addition, there is a collection of 5 volleyball-based minigames that range from having you hitting a target as many times as possible, to a Breakout-style game.
In addition to the above games, Kydos has also released a couple of apps. One is an iPhone exclusive called Magical Mirror that allows you to take a picture of someone and let the Magical Mirror give you a fairy tale description of them, and tell you whether they are beauty or beast. And, they released a game on XBLIG called My Band which allows you to select a variety of instruments and make music with the Xbox 360 controller or any of its compatible instruments.