Once in a while, an app comes along that kinda blows you away with its design. My most recent memories of such apps include The Room series and the amazing Monument Valley.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I love puzzle apps, and I’m always looking for the next great one. I may just have found it in the Lumino City app.
Full disclosure: despite being a bit of a technology geek, I also have this weird attachment to, and affection for, old equipment that has never let me down. Despite owning a relatively new iPad 3, I have still been using (hold onto yourselves) an iPhone 3GS for more years than I care to admit.
My argument is that despite my abuse of the poor thing, it has faithfully kept working, so why change it? Well, last weekend I was seduced by the siren song of Flow’s promotion and got an iPhone 6s. “You’ll wonder how you’ve been without one for so long,” they assured me. About two hours later, I had to agree.
Y’see, I’ve been somewhat restricted by the apps I can download, as only my iPad can accommodate the latest iOS. Now I have my iPhone 6s, I’ve got a whole new world open to me.
Lumino City, lauded for its gorgeous design, was the perfect choice as an inaugural app to install on my new bright and sparkly acquisition. I couldn’t wait to see how it looked and worked.
How it works
It all begins with a young girl, Lumi, and her grandad (which instantly gives the game away that the developers are from the U.K.), but within the first minute, grandad disappears while Lumi is making them cups of tea. She hears a kerfuffle upstairs, and by the time she gets there, he’s gone. The only thing he’s left behind is a book of diagrams and information that she puts carefully in her bag. She has to find him!
Much like a number of similar apps, Lumino City assists you in the beginning so you can familiarize yourself with the controls. You learn how to move your character and how important it is to pick up objects that could be useful later on. Everything goes into that bag, which seems to have an infinite capacity for holding objects, and you can check your inventory at any time.
You’ll head towards the city, and in order for the game to truly begin, you must pick up a stick that in turn must be used to ring a bell. You will then be lifted to the first building, and encounter the first character of many in the adventure to come.
The stop-motion animation design of Lumino City is really spectacular. You feel like you’re right there, in the heart of this tiny world. The attention to detail is breathtaking, so it’s nice to see that the creators have included a camera tab on the screen. Simply tap on the circle in the top right-hand corner, and you’ll get a drop-down menu to take you home, to a camera, or video. That’s right – you can record your progress, and even have it access your microphone so you can add comments along the way.
The puzzles are different and interesting, making you use your noggin to get past obstacles and through doors. This is also when that book that grandad left behind becomes very useful. It has about 900 pages in it, so learn how to quickly fly through them or it’ll take you ages to get to the information you want. Pay close attention to the table of contents. It’ll help guide you to what you need.
As you go from place to place in the city, make sure to check your surroundings for objects that are useful, and people who may be able to help you on your way. Don’t be afraid to retrace your steps sometimes, as you could glean more information that way. The app will assist to an extent, hinting at whether you need to tarry longer, or if you’ve got all you need from the characters and items in the immediate area.
If you have to leave the game at any time to … I dunno … eat, drink or visit the bathroom, don’t worry – Lumi will be waiting for you in the exact same spot where you left her when you closed the app.
When I played it
I was instantly hooked by Lumino City. Its layout, design and puzzles were a marvellous combination that got me interested from the start. I looked at it on both my iPad and iPhone 6s, and I have to say that although my iPad is not the latest model, I always thought its screen was crisp and clear until I saw the game on my new iPhone. Wow. The detail was extraordinary.
The only thing that I found pretty difficult was hitting the bell with the acquired stick at the very beginning. In fact, I found it so unwilling to cooperate that I ended up calling the seller – State of Play – to find out if I was doing something wrong, or if there was a bug in the app. It just seemed that no matter how many times I tried to drop the stick on that bell, it wouldn’t work.
It turns out that as of writing this column, they are aware that it is quite sensitive, and you have to drop the middle of the stick over the bell in order for it to ring. They are apparently working on it as we speak and it will be addressed in the update coming down the pike.
I also sometimes found myself madly tapping away on the screen with my apparently fat fingers, in order to hit just the right spot for some new intel. It could be slightly maddening when I was eager to move forward, but still, the gorgeousness of this app erased any grumbling.
I would say that the creators need to work out a couple of issues with Lumino City, such as that very precise stick drop at the start, but overall Lumino City is aces in my book. It is a beautiful app with some very interesting challenges and should appeal to a wide range of ages. It’s absolutely worth the money.
- No in-app purchases.
- Beautiful design.
- Great puzzles.
- Stick dropping frustration.
- Lumino City
- Cost: $4.99
- Seller: State of Play Games Ltd
- Devices: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
- Rating: E for Everyone