We have plenty of beautiful platformers, narrative experiences and Metroidvania titles on Switch, but a genre that always needs more representation is dynamic puzzlers. Games that allow you to both explore and soak in a beautiful atmosphere while keeping your grey cells busy – Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles could certainly help to fill that gap. Developed by Luninawesome Games and published by Wired Productions, it’s heading to Switch (and a whole lot of other platforms) on 24th March, so there’s not long to wait.
Having been well received in early access on Steam, the full game will arrive with additional content and adjustments based on fan feedback. What immediately stood out to us in a recent presentation was the art style and its fantastical sub-aquatic setting, with varied ‘Motes’ — essentially creatures with special abilities — that drive the puzzle solving.
In terms of structure, the game takes place across one large environment but progress is gated by towers that you can clear when Lumote — your ‘squishy hero’ — has mastered an area’s new Mote ability. Structurally it seems sound, giving the sense of a huge space while at the same time managing progress so players can learn each ability properly. The full release will also add a second world, which will offer greater challenges for those that have mastered all of the abilities.
Despite having a core development team of just four, there’s clearly been a lot of love poured into the project. It’s getting the works from its publisher, too, with a double vinyl soundtrack album in addition to a physical edition that’ll have a reversible cover, sticker sheet and poster:
We had a chance to chat with two of the team, Michelle Rocha (Puzzle Design and Code) and Kyle Rocha (Code & Art), to learn more about the game’s evolution and its transition onto Switch.
Nintendo Life: For any of our readers unfamiliar with the game, can you perhaps share your elevator pitch?
Michelle Rocha: In a world of Red MasterMote as far as your eyes can see, you play as Lumote – our squishy protagonist – possessing the other creatures in the world, solving puzzles to change it to Lumote Blue.
Since its release in Early Access on Steam in 2020, has player feedback or your own process of preparing it for console led to any changes or evolutions in the core game?
MR: We’ve definitely fixed some bugs and improved puzzles where players were getting stuck, not because of the puzzle, but because of character control issues at that time.
You’ve introduced a variety of motes and abilities; what was the biggest focus and challenge when developing the game’s progression and introducing new mechanics?
MR: Deciding on the proper order to introduce the motes and making sure that those abilities have been reinforced enough, so that when two motes are put together in a puzzle players instinctively have a rough idea how they will react to each other. Each mote actually has two abilities, one when powered by Lumote Blue and the other Mastermote Red. Getting players to understand that and that they can manipulate the red master to their advantage was also a big focus.
With the ‘Red Lumote’ advanced puzzles, how much focus have you put on presenting a notable challenge for enthusiasts, while also attracting puzzle fans that perhaps have less experience?
MR: So with the introduction of World Two it allowed me to make puzzles with all the motes at my disposal, as by the time players have reached that point they will be very familiar with the world and the way it works. There were a lot of concepts that I previously couldn’t explore because it didn’t fit into the flow of introducing motes and their abilities and how they interact with everything else. As for less experienced puzzle fans, the thing that makes Lumote nice for them is that while we do have platforming we are focused on puzzles first, so if you are ever stuck you can look over the puzzle and not worry about platforming and reassess at your own pace. Also, who doesn’t like more puzzles!
The sub-aquatic environment with its various levels and verticality are interesting, what were the creative origins of that setting and the main character?
MR: Kyle and I love the aquarium and spent a lot of time there. There’s something so alien yet familiar about creatures that live underwater. As for Lumote they actually started out as a cube, as many indie game characters do. But if you look at the motes they are actually a mixture of crystal and creature. (We also love geology!) So Lumote was originally going to be this quadrapus with two antennae out the top like an angler fish. One of our friends suggested taking the cube off, and it really made Lumote more of a character and also more distinctive from the rest of the motes who were all still trapped in their crystalline structures.
How has the porting process gone with the Switch? How much have you needed to balance presentation and performance on the platform?
Kyle Rocha: Porting to Switch has been pretty fun and interesting because it was the first platform we got to bring our engine to after PC. It’s been a good opportunity to see if our custom tech is ready to go to different platforms.
As for balancing presentation and performance, obviously with any port you want to keep the game as close as possible on all platforms. So far, I think we’ve been pretty successful in this regard. For rendering, we don’t currently run the Switch version at a lower level of graphics detail. Typically what we’ve found is that the Switch is more than capable and what’s really necessary is for us to clean up our sloppy work hidden by the power of other platforms. That’s not to say we won’t have to find some places to reduce detail to keep the game smooth, but it’s our last resort. So the balance for us has really been time needed to optimize vs time remaining.
We’d like to thank Michelle and Kyle Rocha for their time. Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles arrives on Switch on 24th March; a demo is currently available on Steam.