What would you do with a super suit that allowed you to become super strong, super fast, and slightly bend the laws of reality to your will? Let’s be honest: some of us would use it for good, some of us would use it for evil, and more than a few of us would probably use it to get ahead in our everyday lives. Galactic pizza delivery girl Lume falls into the last category in the upcoming lighthearted cyberpop action-adventure game from Howltide and Screenwave Media, Lume and the Shifting Void. I caught up to Screenwave Media at PAX South to play the game and walked away yearning for more heroic adventure, and a better tip for speedy service.
Lume traverses her high-tech society unenthusiastically. Her normal days as a pizza delivery girl take a turn during an unexpected event...— Lume (@theshiftingvoid) October 19, 2019
R16, a robot created by Hexloop w/ sassy-boss vibes, is always around to make sure Lume fulfills her task. #screenshotsaturday pic.twitter.com/UexBZqLYw4
Looking out for Lume
Lume and the Shifting Void is a narratively-driven game and the narrative is bonkers in a good way to say the least. Players take on the role of Lume, a pizza delivery girl who accidentally stumbles upon cosmic powers thanks to a tech hacker who is attempting to tap into another dimension - the titular Shifting Void - via a super powered suit. He’d rather not test himself though, so he tempts Lume into doing it. Lume on the other hand just sees the suit as a way to make her job easier, so she happily accepts. What she doesn’t realize is that the Shifting Void opens portals for various hostile creatures that either meld with local flora and fauna and make them mean or just outright attack once they come through.
What that leads to is a series of misadventures for Lume as she discovers the powers of the suit, dispatches creatures of the Shifting Void, and does everything in her power to get her pizzas delivered in satisfactory fashion. That comes out to a level-centric action adventure very much inspired by the likes of Mega Man X. The demo took me to a jungle level where we met with various enemies and pitfalls. Enemies ranged between biting plants, creatures spitting goo balls, burly beasts lumbering towards Lume to take a munch, and more. Fortunately, Lume is capable of super-powered melee and projectile attacks. The projectiles are limited to a meter which can be refilled by killing enemies, but the melee is unlimited and good in a pinch.
Lume can also discover abilities to power up the suit like a nano heal that will restore a tick of life on her life bar or a blink dash that allows her to dodge attacks. In this way, the demo I played offered quite a few avenues of exploration throughout the level to use our abilities to the fullest on the way to the boss. It was a pretty enjoyable affair that ended with a clever boss fight with a beastly shaman using various totems to disable various aspects of Lume and a section where they jump onto a bridge above and try to skewer Lume from below with summoned spike traps, requiring players to smartly choose between their blink dash, melee, and projectiles as the situation calls for it.
The art and visuals of Lume
One of the biggest things that drew me to Lume in the first place was the lush art style and vibrant pixel animation. Howltide designer Iván G. Lago put a lot of effort into the cartoonish style of the game and its friends and enemies. According to Screenwave Media Head of Studio Ian Vaflor, Lume not only pulled from Mega Man X, but also found its voice and aesthetic among inspirations like Viewtiful Joe and Green Lantern.
“We want people to enjoy the personality of the characters themselves in Lume,” Vaflor explained. “So much of a character can come through in not just the things they say or their regular design, but also in like the wind-up, commit, and follow-through of their actions. It’s telling a story when you’re bounding through a jungle, hopping and bopping, and uppercutting things in the air so hard they’re bouncing off of walls. Lume isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. There are all sorts of characters around her telling her about these extradimensional threats, and she’s only kind of aware of how dire the situation is. She’s a kid that was given an Iron Man suit trying to get paid, and the joy of using those powers is what we want to express with her.”
It’s not just Lume either. Her supporting cast even in the level I played included a bossy robot trying to keep her in line (and helpfully giving directions through the level from time to time) and a helpful alien being who seems to understand quite a bit about her suit and is willing to patch it up when it gets damaged, for a greedy fee of course. Screenwave and Howltide seem to be aiming for that fine-line between a serious action game and a Saturday morning cartoon. And I must admit, they appear to be on the right track.
According to Ian Vaflor, the team is hoping to launch Lume and the Shifting Void by Holiday 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, as well as possibly next gen systems like PS5 and Xbox Series X. You can learn more about Lume and the Shifting Void on the game’s website, as well as Screenwave Media’s website where you can also find their other projects. You can also follow Lume and the Shifting Void, Howltide, and Screenwave Media on Twitter and Discord for the latest news and information on the game.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Lume and the Shifting Void hands-on preview at PAX South 2020