“An Iso what what?” Ok, ok, that’s not exactly a genre that’s too well known these days, but back when I started playing games (the early ’80s) computers had about as much power as a sock – one sock mind, not a pair – so clever programmers had to think up new ways of presenting things. One trick, used to get over the lack of 3D, was presenting the world via isometric projection. You’d explore the game, room by room, progressing via a mix of platforming and the occasional puzzle.
A company called Ultimate Play The Game – yes, the same company that later became Rare and is now snuggled in the warm embrace of Microsoft Games Studios – released “Knightlore” onto the humble Spectrum 48k and pioneered this approach, before games like Head Over Heels, Solstice and Equinox pushed the technique to its limits over the following years. But since its heyday in the late ’80s / early ’90s we’ve kinda forgotten about the humble isometric arcade adventure, so Lumo (Finnish for ‘enchantment’) is here to kick start it back into life!
“Why make this now?” Well, I was a big fan of Head Over Heels, it was the first game that I owned, and it’s the game that started me on the path to becoming a game developer! I spent countless hours sketching out new locations and room ideas when I was a kid, so it was an obvious choice to revisit it when I decided to work on my own. But don’t worry, Lumo isn’t a remake of those classic games – instead, it’s my attempt to answer, ‘what would those games be like today?’
Lumo is set in a much bigger world than its predecessors – nearly 450 rooms, split across four zones – it brings in a host of new mechanics to the genre, messes around with light and physics, has many more secrets, as well as six hidden mini-games for you to find and unlock. So polish up those exploration skills, this isn’t a game that you’ll 100% easily!
Try and jump out of rooms and bend the game’s mechanics. Maybe you’ll be the first person to find all the cassettes? Maybe you’ll rescue all the ducks? If you do – and you’re feeling brave – test yourself against the clock in “Old School” Mode, Lumo’s Time Trial, set in 1985!
However you decide to play, I very much hope that you enjoy the game. It’s been a lot of fun making it over the last two years, so much so that it’s turned into my Love Letter to the British game industry that I adored as a kid. There are tonnes of references to gaming culture of the 80s, from magazines to game developers, that will make the eagle-eyed Retro-gamers among you chuckle, while younger players will find Lumo to be a fresh, modern take on a genre that’s just as fun today as it was 30 years ago!