After nearly two and a half years of drawing, mapping and creating, local video game designers have made their work public for the first time with the LUMEN: Lost Passages feedback demo.
The feedback demo for LUMEN was released on February 29 and is currently only available for PC. The stylistic Metroidvania game, follows the character Lumen, an apostle of the Greek God, Hades, as he relights the Passages and finds his way home to the dark underworld he inhabited for thousands and thousands of years.
“Lumen is the Soul Warden – the glowing character with a lattern that greets everyone when they die. Now he is just exploring these worlds for the first time. He doesn’t have any clue about what’s about to happen in the game, because he’s just learning it too,” explained lead game designer Craig Robinson.
Released by Buttery Games, Robinson’s indie game development studio in St. Catharines, LUMEN went through ‘three major refactors (meaning they made the game from the ground up three times), two major art updates, dozens of Player Controllers and tonnes of blood sweat and tears’ over the two and a half years it took them to create the game.
“When we first started out, none of us knew how to do anything,” said Robinson. “It was a lot of teaching ourselves, and a lot of trial and error. In two and a half years, we should have completed a full game. But, we had to learn how to do everything from the ground up, and we just keep on learning as we go,” said Robinson.
LUMEN’s game mechanics are smooth, the level design and overall game play are both challenging and rewarding, and the backgrounds are detailed and beautiful. The frame-by-frame movements lends an artistic and sophisticated design element to the game. After completing the demo, I was left wanting more, excited for the different weapons, spells and enchantments that could be found or purchased at merchants that will help guide Lumen across his quest.
Robinson, along with game designer Andrew Beach, lead programmer Dylan Butson and concept and lead artists respectively, Dylan Zdrobov and Spencer Donoghue, have created a game that parallels with other modern Metroidvania platformers, in both size and scope, with many noting a similarity to Hollow Knight.
“It was just a coincidence that our first level was a cave with bugs,” laughed Robinson. “We have a bunch of bright outdoor areas that will distinguish us from that game.”
After they have finished their testing period, the full demo for LUMEN will be released on Steam, hopefully garnering enough attention to create a crowdfunding campaign to develop the rest of the game, although Robinson stated that they would finish this game regardless – their first calling card.
“We’re this far in,” he said. “The demo will at least show everyone proof of concept. That we can do this.”