Review – Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles
Puzzle platformers are a dime a dozen in video gaming’s oversaturated market, yet there was something about Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles, that caught my attention. I’m not just referring to its vibrant art design either, although I’m certain that played a part. No, I could tell there was something deceptively unique about it, even from watching its brief trailers. As someone who loves puzzles and anything creatively different, I just had to see what Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles had to offer beneath its neon exterior.
Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles has about as simple of a premise as you can get. You play as an adorably squishy blob, Lumote, that’s trying to make its way through a massive subterranean world, known as the Great Depths. The entire game is presented in a string of interconnected levels, leading Lumote further and further into its depths. The Great Depths have become corrupted by the Mastermote, and it’s up to Lumote to free the other Motes and inhabitants of this world from the influence of the Mastermote.
The concept seems epic in scale, but there really isn’t more to Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles other than this rudimentary idea. Even then, there’s no story being laid out before you; instead Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles relies on you to infer what’s taking place. There are no cutscenes nor any sort of dialogue. Much of the game’s tone is relayed through its electronica soundscape, but even that doesn’t leave much of an impression. The only real “characters” are Lumote and the Mastermote, but neither are given personalities or character arcs of any kind. Your motivation is simply boiled down to “you are controlling the spongy blob that turns things blue and must stop the larger blob that’s been turning everything red.”
The concept is simple and so is the gameplay. Although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles introduces all of its gameplay mechanics very early on and never deviates from them. This both works in its favor and holds it back at the same time. Controlling Lumote, you’ll be able to flop around, jump (and double jump), and possess other various motes.
Possessing other motes and inhabitants of the Great Depths works in a number of ways. Lumote can take control of other motes, which it can then move to specific flowery sections that will affect the area around it. Lumote can also manipulate a variety of flowers, which can open up new pathways, act as platforms, or enable it to ride to other areas within that section. Each level requires you to change all the energy from red to blue, which will open up a giant anemone-like creature that allows Lumote to pass through to the next stage.
That’s about all Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles has to offer in terms of gameplay though. However, I do have to give the developers credit for finding increasingly creative ways to implement those few mechanics into a surprising amount of puzzles. Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles consists of six towers to overtake and a total of fifty puzzles to solve. Most of the solutions are fairly easy to figure out, but there were several that had me scratching my head for a while, especially in later levels.
Even though the core mechanics are fairly elementary, the controls are at least tight and responsive. I also have to highly praise the camera controls, which were surprisingly great. Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles features full 360° movement, which felt smooth at all times. The camera never got stuck on a wall, or freaked out and flew into a death spin at point during my playthrough, which was shocking. Cameras in 3D games have come a long way since Super Mario 64. Controlling the camera is especially important when it comes to finding secret collectibles, which are hidden in every section. Obtaining them is purely optional, but it adds an extra layer of challenge to the game.
As I’ve already mentioned, the art design in Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles is visually striking. Unfortunately, the still images don’t do it justice, since the environment is in a constant state of gentle motion. The Great Depths are alive, swelling and waning, with occasional air bubbles floating across the screen. The color palette plays a huge role as well, with greens and purples setting the stage, while reds and blues fight for dominance. My only gripe- probably my biggest issue with the whole game- is that the scenery never changes.
This is where I can see players losing interest. With the gameplay mechanics being so basic and every level essentially looking indistinguishable from the others, I can understand why some people would write off Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles as being too much of the same thing. Honestly, I felt that too a few times. Still, there was something about it that kept drawing me back in. I’d play for a bit, get bored or temporarily stumped, set it aside, then come back to it after a while. I know that sounds negative, but with how many games I’m constantly juggling, going back to a game I’d previously taken a break from is actually a testament to its appeal.
Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles is a bit of an enigma. Its premise is enough to make you to want to see more, but there’s never really any depth to it. That being said, depth of story doesn’t matter substantially, as long as the gameplay is fun. The gameplay mechanics are basic and don’t deviate much from the introductory levels. However, they are consistently reworked into new and inventive ways throughout the game. It’s eye-catching and visually appealing, but before too long every level looks almost identical to one another.
What I’ve come to realize it that Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles is something special… in shorts bursts. It’s the perfect game to pick up and play a few levels of before setting it down to go about your business. Brief play sessions will keep you engaged, whereas long blocks will start to wear on you. For anyone who enjoys 3D puzzle platformers, I wholeheartedly recommend Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles, primarily on a handheld system, such as Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck.
A visually striking world, with a stark contrast between blues and reds, and dynamic lighting effects for the bioluminescent environments.
A 3D puzzle platformer in which the camera actually responds well. Basic gameplay elements such as moving, jumping, and possessing are introduced early on, with little to no deviations throughout the rest of the game.
The soundtrack is decent and the sound effects are serviceable, but there’s not much that’s memorable.
The core concepts are fairly simplistic, but are arranged in more creative ways as the game progresses. It’s fun in short bursts, but can feel tedious in longer play sessions.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles is available now on PC, Google Stadia, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles was provided by the publisher.