Old School: Isometric Platformer Lumo Out Now

Lumo [official site] is an isometric platformer throwback dealio that aims to provide a “modern take” on a long-forgotten genre. Made by ex-Ruffian fellow Gareth Noyce, it’s been in the works for a couple of years now, but has been released into the real live world today. I had a bash of the demo at Rezzed earlier this year and liked it, but first have a launch trailer:

As is pretty clear from that, Lumo is a nostalgic nod towards the isometric platformers that were popular in the 80s and early 90s – such as the classic Knight Lore. While I realise some of you might not have been born then, and therefore might not care much for the conceit of trekking through over 400 self-contained murder rooms, I really quite enjoyed the brief shot I had at Rezzed this year. I do also realise that nostalgia may have clouded my judgement slightly, but, hey, sentimentality is a byproduct of being a million years old. I hope you can take my word for it.

Assuming the role of a young lost child, Lumo sends you deep into a deathtrap-laden dungeon without much explanation beyond: get from point A to point B, while avoiding/overcoming point C. At first, shuffling is your sole means of getting around and only by successfully besting puzzles can you hope to learn new skills, such as climbing and jumping, as you delve deeper into the unknown.

In the short section of game I played, this was pretty straightforward stuff – push a box here, stand on a pressure plate there – however it seems things get distinctly more complicated if the above trailer is anything to go by. I mean, there are over 400 levels, after all.

I reckon I’ll jump into this later on this evening, however if you’ve already started I’d love to know how you’re getting on.

Lumo is out now for Windows, Mac and Linux priced £14.99/17,99€/$19.99 on GOG, The Humble Store and Steam.


  1. klops says:

    Still no comment how this is not actually isometric but ____ instead?

    • Baf says:

      If you really want one, I can provide. The trailer shows floor tiles that are larger the closer they are to the camera, as you’d expect from a perspective projection rather than an isometric one. “Things are the same size on the screen regardless of distance” is the very definition of isometric, and that’s not the case here.

      Except… that isn’t really what “isometric” means in this context, is it? “Isometric platformer” is a genre of game, and genres are delineated by “family resemblance” rather than definitions. That’s how you get “Westerns” set in Australia or whatever.

      • cannonballsimp says:

        I know that thanks to Wittgenstein the whole “meaning is usage” idea is fashionable, and obviously there’s no need to be a semantics nazi about it, but there are some tangible benefits to usages whose meanings are etymologically/morphologically transparent. Perhaps propagators of usage such as journalists should take some responsibility for ensuring such transparency?

        • Sly-Lupin says:

          Problem is, even the (incorrect) common understanding of what “isometric” means for games (IE top-down perspective) does not apply to this game.

          So whether you mean isometric literally or are using it as a kind of catch-all, it doesn’t work with Lumo.

          There’s a thread about this on the Lumo Steam forum, and from what I can gather, the developers simply do not know what the word “isometric” means, nor do they care to know. Which really disincentivizes me to play their game–if they care so little about describing their game accurately, I can’t imagine they put much effort into building it in the first place.

      • Sly-Lupin says:

        Is “isometric platformer” really a genre?

        And it’s not like we even have accurate genres for games to begin with. What we have is a hodgepodge of terms that only sometimes generally apply to the mechanical systems… it’s not like literature or film where genre conveys much more information about the individual works.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Yes, the easiest way of defining true isometric perspective is that sizes are always “true” in screen space. Something 5 units long will always be 5 units long, whether it’s at the back or the front of the scene. The illusion of depth/perspective comes from a combination of shading and overlapping. There are very few games that actually use an exact isometric projection, and getting it right depends largely on screen aspect ratio. Plenty of games we think of as being isometric, particularly strategy games, actually aren’t isometric but dimetric, as covered in the Sim City 2000 art style article.

        Anyway, even though it’s not the same perspective, this looks close enough to make me want to give the Head Over Heels remake another bash!

    • klops says:

      Ahh, here we go.

    • quasiotter says:

      Naya’s Quest by good ol’ Terry Cavanagh is a brilliant exploitation of the actual isometric perspective:
      link to distractionware.com

  2. Kefren says:

    I still play Knight Lore sometimes. I have a scan of a map from a Spectrum mag that I use during runs. I even completed the game once. It sure takes me back.

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    zapatapon says:

    I hated Knight Lore with all my heart. Revolutionary graphics engine at the time, but it was not an adventure game, but a pixel-precision masochistic platformer (the isometric view made it worse since there was always an ambiguity about where exactly everything stood in the room), and what I see from the Lumo trailer rather rubs my nostalgia the wrong way.

    The best isometric games in my memory relinquished (some) of the most absurdly difficult precision platforming to embrace more of the puzzle/adventure aspects (the Ritman/Drummond games; Get Dexter 1&2; the great escape…)

    • Kefren says:

      I played The Great Escape a lot on my C64 and loved it. There was something about mono colours such as the dark blue of the tunnels that worked so well. Controls were clunky (to use items), scrolling jerky (outdoor areas), aims confusing (I escaped once but got sent back), and often unfair (walk towards a doorway – guard comes through, touches you, takes all items and puts you back in solitary). But it still felt great dressing as a guard.

      You probably liked Fairlight too? More of that kind of game, with lovely music.

    • Benratha says:

      Head over Heels was the one I played (Spectrum 128K, which I still have in the attic alone with a Hitachi “cassette” player)

      • Benratha says:

        Aargh! “along with…”
        Although ‘alone’ might work in the context of “in a box & forgotten about”

      • Kefren says:

        I loved many aspects of Head Over Heels, but I rarely got further than the point where they meet up!

      • Gron says:

        Alien 8! I think i even completed it once, and while i was using ‘Poke’ cheat codes for infinite lives, it still was quite an accomplishment for me :)

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      zapatapon says:

      I just realized that I posted basically the same comment as I did above when Kieron wrote about Knight Lore… 6 years ago. I am a feeling a little bit depressed now.

  4. frenxy says:

    Looks like solstice on the NES.