Lumo’s charming visuals were what first drew us to its stand at this year’s EGX event. But this isn’t just a magical adventure with a pretty face, as Kim explains.
|Developer:||Triple Eh? Ltd|
|Publisher:||Rising Star Games|
|Release date:||To be announced|
|PEGI rating:||Not listed|
|Platforms:||Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox One|
It was great to see an increased indie presence at this year’s EGX event in Birmingham, UK. The expo’s move to the NEC meant that a greater amount of space could be devoted to such developers and with three associated areas available – the Rezzed Zone, Indie Megabooth and Leftfield Collection – there were plenty of titles to choose from. Rather than spend time queuing up for the big-budget names such as Just Cause 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division and Rise of the Tomb Raider, I gave most of my hours at the event to these booths: a testament to how many exciting, independent experiences were on offer to attendees.
One such experience was Lumo, an isometric adventure game by Gareth Noyce of Triple Eh? Ltd. It was the charming visuals that caught my eye at first but after chatting to Rising Star Games’ Developer Relations / Production Coordinator Martin Mathers and playing the demo for myself, it became clear that there’s plenty of substance here; this title isn’t just a pretty face. Martin told us he’d been chasing the developer to sign with his company for over a year and a recent announcement on their website reveals they were ‘so keen to sign a partnership with Triple Eh? to publish Lumo.’
In fact, they’re calling it ‘the first great game of 2016’ and the release is being advertised as being of the same ilk as revered 8-bit classics such as Head over Heels, Knightlore, Alien 8, Chimera and Solstice (for those gamers who are old enough to remember them!). Not much has been given away about the plot so far but players take on the role of a young boy who’s lost in the depths of a mysterious castle that’s part museum, part death-trap. You must explore the fortress, bring ancient machinery to life, collect spells and uncover hidden areas as you work your way safely outside.
In the section I had the opportunity of playing, I explored a number of rooms and tracked down a wizard’s hat which enabled the protagonist to jump higher. My research on Lumo revealed varying numbers: Rising Star’s announcement mentions that 400 rooms are available for investigation, while other sources such as Steam Greenlight refer to 150 or figures in between. The player is tasked with navigating through them and the traps they hold, such as shifting platforms, spinning flames and moveable crates. Each is self-contained, reminiscent of the Super Mario Galaxy games.
The rooms float against colourful backdrops full of stars, adding to the sense of child-like excitement and discovery conjured up by the magical setting. It looks extremely polished already when you consider that Lumo is the work of just one man; the lovely cartoon visuals were what drew me to the stand at EGX, along with many other attendees. There are some subtle nods to the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Personal Computer and beyond, and I even witnessed a fellow player come across a reference to Gordon the Gopher during my time with the demo.
Triple Eh? is the baby of Gareth Noyce, a games industry veteran with over thirteen years’ experience in triple-A console titles. His career began at Climax Studios (Solent) in quality assurance (QA) and as a designer on Sudeki; he then partnered with Gary Liddon as a co-founder of Xen Services, working as a contracted producer on a number of titles such as Fable II (one of my favourite games); and in 2008, he formed Ruffian Games with Liddon and Billy Thomson, shipping five releases for the Xbox 360 including Crackdown 2. In 2013 Noyce moved to Finland and started teaching Game Design, Unity and Business & Production courses at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, and the idea for Lumo was formed at the end of that year.
An interview for Eurogamer reveals that it was the result of a drunken Twitter conversation with developer Ste Pickford: “I woke up the next morning and thought sod it, let’s have a go. So I knocked up a really quick prototype in two or three days – it’s up on my YouTube channel and looks awful. But it started to feel ok straight away… Head over Heels was the first game I ever played. It took me back to all that stuff. Me and a friend used to play it constantly – religiously – and it was one of the things that got me interested in doing development.”
Martin told us that the title is due to be released in early 2016 and this is one we’re keeping our eyes on. You won’t find Rising Star using labels however: “[We won’t] classify Lumo as indie, retro or anything else that might see people pigeon-holing it off-hand. We simply want you to see it as the first great game of 2016, hands down.” We’ll bring you more news as we receive it.