Free Android game of the month - Reviewing The Path to Luma
Whenever we think of edutainment as a concept, usually the first things that pop into our mind are very simple games, usually meant to be played by children in order to develop their capabilities or to teach them new things. Although the majority of edutainment games fall into this niche, there are some exceptions that bring together a much higher level of entertainment, good graphics and sound and some really useful and educational content. The Path to Luma is exactly this: a great game on its own, but the additional contents can teach everyone to be a little more green. Read this review and learn why you should play this game on your Android smartphone or tablet.
A different kind of education
When discussing The Path to Luma it is good to know that this is primarily a mobile game, educational content is only a secondary, but very welcome addition to it. The game, developed by NRG and Phosphor Games Studio is an exploration and puzzle game that takes place on 23 different planets, each of which is a unique level with its own puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress to the next world.
The game's story takes place in a galaxy once inhabited by the mighty Chroma civilization. They are a powerful alien species who have created a vast, interplanetary civilization and lived prosperously on these planets for a long, long time. Unfortunately, the Chroma's advanced technologies also led to their decline: the planets slowly used up the natural resources and crumbled under the weight of heavy pollution.
The Chroma were forced to retreat to a single, now overpopulated planet, where they pulled together all of their resources in a final, desperate attempt to save their species and restore their planets to their former glory. The result of this effort is… well, you.
Sam I am
The Chroma's last chance for survival are the Sustainability Augmentation Models (or SAMs), androids specially designed to travel the Chroma planets in order to remove pollution, harness new, green energies and restore the planet's dwellings. The Chroma believe that once the planets are again habitable, their civilization will return to their former glory, a state they refer to as Luma.
As you might have guessed, you are one of the SAMs, actually the last of your kind, thus the last hope for the Chroma civilization. The goal of the game is to guide the SAM through a series of different planets (there are 23 currently, but this number is expected to grow in the future), explore them, solve a series of puzzles on each of them and provide clean energy to the dwellings on the planets. The player must fully complete a level before progressing to the next one, but completed levels can be replayed anytime.
The Path to Luma is a point-and-tap puzzle and exploration game, meaning that you can control the main character by simply tapping the screen. This will instruct the SAM to go to a specific place, pick up, put down or use an object. And that's about it for the controls: the game is really easy to pick up and play, although the puzzles can get mind-boggling after a few levels.
A beautiful shade of green
The goal of each level is to restore power to all dwellings on the current planet by using green energy. First you will only have solar power at your disposal: the SAM carries a rod that can be placed at specific locations. You can then rotate the planet so that the sun shines on the rod, thus providing power to adjacent facilities. Not only the dwellings need to be powered, but also some other objects: you will need to power up gates to open them, levers to rotate things and carts to use them as vehicles.
Later on you will have access to batteries, allowing you to bring power to areas where there are no other power sources, battery chargers to charge these batteries, wind and water power plants, and so on. Each of these require specific conditions to work, for example the wind power plant needs to be placed in a windy area, while water power plants can only be used near lakes.
You won't be alone on your journey, as a Galactic User Instructor and Dedicated Escort (or simply G.U.I.D.E.) will explain every detail of the game, making the start easy. Of course, as you progress through the different planets, you will receive less and less help, so the puzzles will become more challenging. Besides the whole game being based on the idea of promoting clean and green energy, you also have access to the Codex Luma, which provides additional information on the different types of renewable energy, and the game's website offers even more to read, so the whole The Path to Luma project fulfills its goal of being educational and entertaining.
Also, the game has really nice graphics: the style is minimalistic, but very cute and clean at the same time. This is accompanied by a simple and relaxing music that doesn't get annoying even after playing for a long time. Another huge bonus is that there are absolutely no in-app purchases, and the creators are proud of that. This means that the game is free and all future updates will remain free.
If we're to talk about any negative aspects, we might mention the length of the game: there are currently 23 planets, which will keep you entertained for a while, but don't expect long nights of puzzle solving.
Download: The Path to Luma.
The Path to Luma is a real breath of fresh air on today's gaming market. Not only because of its topic (which does indeed have fresh air), but also because of its design, educational value and overall experience. It is rare to see such a puzzle game that offers more than yet another Bejeweled-clone with tons of purchasable items. The Path to Luma offers a great deal of originality and it is clear that the developers didn't want to simply package an eco-friendly company's promotional material into a game-like product, but wanted to create a quality game.
And so they did! In a world where we are overwhelmed by dozens of action shooters and driving games, it is great to see something that manages to stay nice and joyful, while not stumbling over to something very childish. Of course, The Path to Luma is still accessible for children as well: there is no aggression, the graphics are beautiful and the overall message is very positive.
Dear NRG and Phosphor Games Studio, we have but one request: please keep the new levels coming, we want to work really hard to reach Luma!