Second Time's The Charm
Before I begin my first impressions, I'd like to thank 2Dynamic Games and Star Drifters for providing us with a code for Lumencraft to check out. Lumencraft is what I would best explain as a game that combines the franticness of an action survival thriller shooter with the resourcefulness of a tower defense game. There was one game that we looked at a few months ago that fit similar criteria known as The Riftbreaker. I wasn't much of a fan of the game but I did appreciate what the developers were going for, opening the door for other devs to try this formula for themselves.
This is where 2Dynamic Games and Star Drifters would come into play. The developers describe Lumencraft as one of its modern inspirations with classic titles including Alien Breed being another one. Having played all three, I can see where the inspiration lies, as the concept is similar to the latter. The player is a miner located in the inner depths of an alien planet tasked to mine Lumen, a rare resource. As the player builds a base, they also attract the attention of monsters, forcing them to fight to survive as well as reach the goal. Its premise is simple, but there are many hidden depths to Lumencraft, pun intended.
Digging And Dugging Like The '80s
It is recommended to begin the game with its tutorial as it will help the player understand what it is that Lumencraft expects of the player. The player starts off with nothing more than a drill and some flares, the former used to make a path by carving tunnels. There's no micromanagement involving the drill itself, so players who are concerned about the drill running out of "fuel" can rest assured they're safe. The drill can also be used as a weapon, but it's not the best choice available. Shortly into the tutorial, the player will gain access to a gun, but more weapons including rocket launchers, machine guns, and flame throwers also exist.
Drilling through certain kinds of formations will net the player materials used to craft and upgrade facilities. Pink formations are lumen sources and brown formations are metal formations. Both are equally as valuable to the player and there are generators that can increase the payout of these materials. What the game doesn't warn are the many hazards in Lumencraft. Drilling through certain formations will unearth monsters living underneath, such as these ant monsters. Drilling too close to lava will cause it to spill out into the open, which can be dangerous to the player and their facilities. Adjusting to these events is important to surviving in Lumencraft.
Resources And Blowing Things Up Are Equal Parts Important
While the tutorial has all the bases and resources readily available, in actual Sandbox mode, the player is left in charge to develop things themselves. There are "hints," in the form of glowing rocks, that will nudge the player on the right path, but how the player reaches the end is up to them. There will be facilities that are a tad bit out of reach from the nearest power generator, meaning that players will need to connect with existing ones on a grid. Leveling the drill should be one of the top priorities as the higher the level, the more the player can explore the cave.
There are other modes outside of the game's main "Sandbox" mode, including a mode where a player must make it out of a dark cave. The player still has access to building facilities and upgrades, but these modes play more in tune with Lumencraft's gunplay. The shooting feels like a 90s arcade shooter, much in the realm of Smash TV. The bigger the weapons, the more carnage the player causes as the level of the threat increases. What begins as ants and worms evolve into spiders and giant behemoths. Lumencraft begins simple enough, slowly opening the realm of madness to the player.
Lumencraft Is Looking Like A Bright Spot To The Shooter TD Genre
For an Early Access title, the sky is the limit for this tower defense shooter. Or should I say, the molten lava core is the limit since the goal is to dig tunnels? Regardless, Lumencraft has the potential to become a long-term investment due to its Steam Workshop support. User-created content has helped increase the longevity of a lot of titles tenfold. With the creative maps already included opening the ideas of "maze maps" and "arena shooters," Lumencraft can extend beyond its original intent in a similar fashion
Overall, it's a simple experience that anyone can get involved in and enjoy. There isn't any story or pre-requisite of other games to get used to. There are no major mechanics that require a brain surgeon to enjoy either. Everything from its dark yet almost vibrant visuals and simple controls makes Lumencraft just as fun to play as it is to look at. It'd be amazing to see how this game develops in the future.
Lumencraft is now in Early Access on Steam.