I love pretty games. I don’t care how fun or challenging the game play is, if it hurts my eyes to look at it I won’t play it, and Luminesca is definitely a pretty game.
Started as an IndieGoGo campaign back in April, Luminesca is the child of indie programmer Matt Glanville who describes it as “a 2D side-scrolling adventure which focuses on the events of a changing environment, utilizing light and physics to challenge the part of you that loves to explore.” It’s a fairly accurate description.
The game follows around an aquatic lantern fish-like character named Lum as it travels deeper and deeper underwater, using little green bubble creatures to open doors and power circuitry. Now I have only had a chance to play a very, very short and early version of the game (v 0.1.2), but from what I’ve seen it has a decent amount of potential. While there is no story, dialogue, or text of any kind that I encountered, the aesthetic and ambiance were very pleasant.
All you hear as you move through the water, using a combination of mouse and keyboard, is the music style you’ve come to expect from all water levels: calm, soothing, submerged sounds. There are many creatures to encounter, each of which come with their own unique noises and animation graphics. There are Gish-like blobs that expand and sproink when you pass them; white, glowing vege-tentacula disappear into the ground once you shine your light on them; and of course then there are the adorable little green bubble creatures that you, um, enslave to do your bidding… or hypnotize. Either way you get them to follow you away from their homes and trap them in containers to charge various machinery. But whatever, this game makes enslaving cute.
The controls are very simple and the game is a visual shiatsu massage for fans of exploration games. I have read that there are enemies to defeat further into the game but my version ended before I had a chance to experience it; however, I’m very interested to see how that would work out. And while the green bubble beasts (from now on knows as GBs) are as cute as a porcupine’s hiccup, they are also a point of frustration for me. Lum has no problem moving through the level at a fast speed but the GBs stumble at a slow pace and follow Lum’s position rather than the path he leaves behind. This means you have to backtrack a lot to get the GBs unstuck from protruding coral or a rogue steam piston. But I hear Glanville is working on changing some of the mechanics of the game, including how Lum interacts with the GBs.
The game is currently up for pre-order and the sooner you grab it the cheaper it’ll be (right now it’s 50% off at $5.00). It will be available for Mac, PC, and Linux (eventually) but really, I think this game has a lot of potential for the Wii. The simple controls as well as the Wii’s standard motion sensor technology are a golden coupling, and games like World of Goo have already seen great success with that system. If you read this, Glanville, I think it’s worth looking into.