David Attenborough would take one look at Lumi and he'd be scratching his head. What species does this creature belong to, exactly? It's body is a yellow furry blob, with big blue eyes, pointy ears and a tail. Oh yes, and there are whiskers. Perhaps it's a cat? No wait, judging by the yelping noise Lumi makes whenever it dies, it's definitely part-feline.
How does it play?
Thankfully, such ambiguity does not extend to the gameplay. Lumi's world has been plunged into pitch darkness. Whilst all the other creatures have been transformed into maggots with fangs, our furry feline (?) hero is somehow immune to the effect, and he sets off on a puzzle platform adventure to switch the lights back on.
Lumi emits some brightness of his own, which affords him a small cone of vision into the gloom. To improve visibility, he has to collect the fireflies scattered around each level, and deposit them into a tree which then lights up the surrounding area. Light up a minimum of three, and a portal opens up to the next stage, though players can stick around and collect all the fireflies and light all the trees they find.
The darkness complicates matters, because without adequate light, Lumi can't scope out the dangers and pitfalls that are lurking in the night. If he falls into a puddle of water, for example, he loses a life. Another clue to his cat-like classification, perhaps?
Another clever aspect of Lumi is movement. The little fella is pretty pathetic when it comes to running and jumping; he has to make the use of gravity wells that suck him into their orbit. Using the touchscreen, players can slingshot Lumi across the terrain, thus reaching difficult to reach areas. These gravity wells have a tendency to go on the fritz, however – sometimes they switch off entirely, so be wary of surprises.
Why do we like it?
Form follows function, we think we recall hearing that in a lecture somewhere. Lumi is built around two core concepts - light and gravity - and deploys them to fantastic effect over the course of the game. All the other design elements flow from these two principles, including the eerie, solemn soundtrack that deceives you into thinking that you're playing something a bit more consequential than a mobile game on a touchscreen.
Lumi is an excellent gaming app, with a storyline concerned with nothing less ambitious than the eternal battle between the light and the dark. There'll be a sequel no doubt, and maybe then we'll learn the answers to the lead character's animal origins. David Attenborough needs to know.