Welcome once again to PCGamesN’s Spotlight on Greenlight, our regular Saturday feature where we look at the best and the most interesting Greenlight games that are hoping to make their way onto Steam. We’ve already looked at dozens of other titles in weeks past, so do take a look at our back catalogue.
It’s not many games that sink their setting to the bottom of the ocean, it’s a dark unexplored region where the most alien of creatures dwell. Luminesca has you shine a light into the nooks and crannies of this mysterious world, solving simple puzzles, and learning about a culture of sacrifice and slavery.
Who would have thought such a game would be so calming?
You start life in Luminesca as a recently hatched planktid, a small glowing green bulb of a thing. One of a whole brood being watched over by a spindly alien looking much like an Oddworld inhabitant. Left-clicking the mouse anywhere on the screen will cause you to power yourself through the water, leaving a thin contrail in your wake. Your first task is to escape the enclosure: the walls are too high to jump over. Your only alternative is to swim down deeper, through a hole in the bottom of the hatching area.
Escape brings evolution: you grow from the green bulb into a black fish with an anglerfish style light bulb stalk growing from your forehead, the light from which illuminates a small sphere of the world around you. Right-clicking will focus this surrounding light into a sharp beam. This can be used to explore the world and also influence it.
The dark sea is full of strange creatures - snapping eels, electric seaweed, spiny-backed fish - and your light can make them cower away. If you shine your light on another escaped planktid, which you find hidden in caves all over the ocean floor, then it will cautiously follow you. You can then, somewhat cruelly, lead these planktids into machinery where they become the powersource: opening locked doors or deactivating electric gates.
Luminesca’s world is an intriguing one. The creatures that watched over you as a hatchling seem to have a connection to you, whether you will eventually grow into one of them or it’s something more complex didn’t come across in the brief part of the game that I played, but, whatever the case, they’re growing you to be the sacrifice to something larger, deeper, and more sinister.
I like immensely that Luminesca’s story isn’t presented to you as a didactic narrative: you’re left to explore the world freely and if you swim close to other creatures occasionally a speech bubble will pop up, a snippet of their conversation to another creature. It’s a very passive form of storytelling and it’s ideally suited to the calming qualities of the game. The gentle ambient music; the slow, steady movement; the dark world; the colour palette of blacks, blues, and greens, all feed into one another to create a game which sooths despite the malignant undertones of the story of sacrifice and slavery.
You can already preorder Luminesca through the developer’s website but, if you’re not ready for fiscal support, upvote the fellow on Greenlight.
I’d be remiss not to include this in a post about a game set under the sea: