604415_largerAs one of the original genres on iOS, the physics puzzler has seemingly been done to death ever since the wild success of Angry Birds. While many have tried to recreate its popularity few games have succeeded, instead electing to emulate the game in mechanics only. Lums [$1.99 / $2.99] by Hyperbolic Magnetism takes a different route, incorporating familiar elements of the genre with objectives that turn it completely on its head. It succeeds masterfully too, making it one of the better physics-based puzzlers to hit the App Store in some time.

Following the story of a race of beings named after the game's title, Lums has you taking on a horde of vampires that have invaded the land and seek to cause all the badness that vampires cause. Players utilize a variety of lums that each have special powers in order to take down the vampires in stages with blocks of wood, stone and glass. From this kind of superficial description, you'd think it's just another Angry Birds clone, but this ends up being pretty far from the truth.

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For starters, the vampires you are charged with dispatching are immune to any damage caused by direct interaction with your lums or the bricks/wood surrounding them. Instead, as you might expect, vampires are dispatched by placing them in direct light, which burns them for a few seconds before causing true death. Each stage has light sources shining from various angles, and your goal is to move around the wood and bricks (that block said light) in order to manipulate either the vampires or the surroundings into the light. It's an awesome premise that forces players to focus a lot more on their surroundings beyond a simple 'mass destruction' mentality.

Adding to the strategy are a variety of different lums that actually have a pretty robust set of skills. While the standard Cannonball Lum provides that familiar feeling of destruction, others, such as Light Lum (which transforms into a spotlight where it lands) and Antigravity Lum (temporarily makes any brick it touches fly) have the potential to make seemingly impossible stages solvable with enough creativity. Meanwhile, Transparent Lum (turns bricks into glass) and Stone Lum (turns bricks into stone) are used for setting up the other lums by changing the attributes of the bricks in the stage.

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There's also the fact that lums actually fly, meaning there's less focus on aiming and trajectory and more on carefully guiding them to the areas they need to be. It's platforming-like, which is a nice complement to the rest of the physics puzzler gameplay. I thought this was a nice twist on the standard formula, as while there is still a good deal of trial-and-error, it's less about luck and more about figuring out the intricacies of the stage layout.

There's also a lot of depth to the potential strategies in Lums that really take the game to the next level. For example, later levels introduce lasers, which instantly destroy any lums (as well as vampires and wood bricks) that come into contact with it. Thus, using your Stone or Transparent Lums to change bricks into stone or glass can dramatically alter the way lasers are projected, opening up (or closing off) sections of the map. This is important as, unlike other physics puzzlers, Lums' three-star system is based off of collecting strategically placed stars (rather than a high score criteria). Again, it's a small change, but one that dramatically changes the mindset of the player's objectives.

The simple fact that I found myself having to retrain my mind on how to solve the challenges in Lums is a testament to the success it has in taking a well-known genre and giving it its own unique stamp. True, I would have liked more levels (who doesn't in a good puzzle game?) and some stages felt a little too obtuse, but these are very minor complaints against an otherwise excellent puzzler. Add in some great visuals and presentation, and there's very little reason not to check out Lums.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • toxiccheese

    Brilliant, refreshing, and illuminating!

  • Amenbrother

    Agreed! Great game.

  • Johnny101

    I have to agree this game is very cool, an unexpected surprise !

  • Ollivar Frank

    You know a game is good when the reviewer doesn't start off with the graphics and sound.

  • hourglass

    I'll get it when it goes free next week.

    • Jesse7277

      I hope you drop your iOS device and crack the screen:)

  • RamazAdelphos

    Ill get it when it goes free too

  • Johnny101

    Guys the game deserves a dollar price tag. Why not support these indie games. If you wait for games to go free and cheap sales, eventually the whole iOS market will turn into a garbage Freemium market !! Is that want you guys want? lol.

    • RamazAdelphos

      It's not that.. I just don't have any money left lol has been such am expensive 2-3 weeks for me

      • Brown Cow

        It's a dollar. A single DOLLAR. Seriously, go check the couch cushions. We'll wait.

  • CapitainHarlock

    Was waiting for this. OhhhhYaaa

  • jayjennings

    I want to like it, but the very FIRST screen has me frustrated. The little picture of the hand on the screen trying to tell me what to do isn't making sense. And there's like a D pad that shows up on the right side? wtf? The second blob seems to be controllable to some extent, but the first not at all.

    Oh wait (as I go back and see it for the umpteenth time), the first ball is a "watch, but don't do" tutorial? Then freaking TELL me that, don't make me guess.

    Still, why does a D pad show up?

    I think I'll get over my crankiness and like the game, but did nobody other than the dev ever play it and mention stuff like this? Not even a single screen of help/how-to? Bah, kids!

    • themostunclean

      The d-pad can be a bit misleading. It simply means you can slide around anywhere on the screen to control your Lum's movement while flying. The controls are actually very accurate. They have to be since if the Lum touches anything it'll drop like a lead weight and die!

      • jayjennings

        I know people don't really read instructions anymore, but the words "Slide your finger around to control the Lums!" might have been a better choice than the d-pad. To me, anyway. ;)

        I'm having fun with the game now. (Wish it were universal, though.)

      • LokimanSK

        Hi,
        Vladimir from the dev team here.

        We are sorry for the first (tutorial) screen being too confusing for you. I understand that it is one of the problems wee need solve because it is very important to understand that you can (and you need to) control the Lums while in the air to burn those vampires. As you suggested, some text may help but we don't really like adding more text to the game :)

        Btw, I tried to stress out that the first thing you see is not the actual gameplay but the tutorial by adding those top and bottom movie stripes, skip button and CRT scanlines all over the place. It seem that that it is not enough but almost nobody mentioned that as an issue during our beta test so I stopped and didn't tweak that any further...

        As always, thanks again for your feedback!

        PS.: HD version will be updated into universal app so I hope you will like it :)

  • http://www.kizi-2.net/ kizi 2

    a very good game, I'll find and play the game

  • http://www.nitrome.com/ Nitrome

    Lums looks great...going to download it now ;)

    But...speaking of Physics Puzzle games did you just forget the Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage review? We love your site and initially you gave us a TA plays and a quick article on launch day that said it was good and we should wait for a review soon and then...nothing. We're one of the highest ranked games on meta critics we were briefly the number 1 game in the App Store and its disappointing that you skipped over us :(

    • af

      I'm a sucker for physics puzzle games, so I was going to check yours out. Then I noticed tons of consumable IAP. I'm going to have to pass.

      • themostunclean

        The constables are cheats. It can be a tough game but they're not needed to play at all.

      • themostunclean

        *consumables

      • http://www.nitrome.com/ Nitrome

        They are really hands off with the iAP. No levels need them and we don't hassle you. We have one level where you are introduced to each power in a level where you can try it for free and then if you want them you can go to the shop and buy them. The way we saw them was that if people are stuck they are there as an option and we tried to make them as fun as possible.

      • af

        I appreciate your answer and am glad to hear about the nature of the IAP. I will check it out, thanks!

      • themostunclean

        Plus there are only 3. Not a "ton".

      • af

        if you go to the itunes page of the app: there are 10 different packages of varying sizes of consumable IAPs.

      • themostunclean

        There are only 3 power up consumables. They come in packs of different quantities.

  • Konakuer

    Spend less than an hour in Gnomeescape and you'll get a $1 game. Really.
    Will get this that way.

  • cowtruck123

    I noticed a little bit of lag on my iPad 2, just to let you know. But its a great game!

  • JohnnyJ301

    Vladimir great game, it looks like you put a lot of effort into it. The controls are great and I learned the purpose of each lum by reviewing the tutorial a couple times.

Lums Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4.5