When I dropped my iPhone a few weeks ago I thought my days of reviewing iOS games were over. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on an iPad, with which I was able to try the newly-released Lums, the Angry Birds-like puzzler from indie developer Hyperbolic Magnetism.
Lums is the story of a peaceful race of adorable ball-shaped creatures, Lums, whose planet (possibly Earth?) is summarily invaded by space-faring vampires. Of course, these space vampires hate light, and the only way to kill them is to bathe them in the glow of the various lights which are placed around the level. Once you do, they burn in a very satisfactory matter. Of course, this is no easy task as the vampires are hidden under piles of logs, rocks, and glass.
Lums is, at it’s heart, a physics-based puzzler with a slightly different take on the Angry Birds genre. With an app store that is saturated with Angry Birds knockoffs, it’s nice to see a game that tries to do things a little different, and by-and-large, Lums succeeds.
You control your Lums by tapping your device screen, and then dragging your finger wherever you want them to go. Because your Lums follow your finger, you have a great deal more control over your little characters than in other iterations of this genre. It’s a nice addition that makes me wonder why games like Angry Birds don’t allow you more control over the ballistic birds – it can add so much more to the puzzling aspect, and force you to think more creatively. It allows for more precision, and requires more patience than the standard Angry Birds aim-and-let-fly dynamic. But be careful, if one of your Lums touches a wall, piece of wood, or rock, they will immediately become inert and die.
To aid you, there are five different types of Lums, including your standard battering ram Lums, Lums that create light when placed on a wall, and Lums that turn solid rock and wood into glass (which allows light to pass through). The challenge comes not just from destroying the stone and wood structures the vampires are hiding in, but destroying them in such a way that light can get through to the vampires. If you destroy a wood hut the wrong way, the wood will just fall on top of the vampire, which will continue to block light getting to it and killing it. So there’s an added level of strategy involved that I did not expect, and found quite fun and refreshing.
Graphically the game is sharp. It employs a dark, minimalist design, that also glows and shines in all the right places. I played the game on a 3rd generation iPad, so your mileage may vary, but the game looked great, and I never experience a hiccup, stutter, or jitter the entire time I played.
Another plus is the sound and music which follows the same minimalist design as the graphics. The music is understated, and most of the levels have you playing in a gently-pattering rain storm, which is actually quite soothing…oddly enough.
The game isn’t perfect though. I found many of the levels to be quite easy, and I was able to blow through most of them in just under two hours. If you want to go back and collect 3 out of 3 stars for each level, that will take you a bit longer, but it’s easy to see why similar games in this genre continue to release level packs every other month or so. There is an option to purchase a “Destroy all Vampires” nuke for $0.99 in the app, but I never really felt the desire to get it because I was blowing through levels so quickly.
But that’s hardly a glaring complaint about the game. It’s fun, good-looking, whimsical, and the perfect type of game for an iPad or an iPhone to pass the time. Perhaps the best part is you can try it for free – you get 12 free levels in the app store. The full game is only $0.99 for iPhones and $1.99 for iPads. Not a bad deal at all.