Lemma (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 04.04.2016 1

Review for Lemma on PC

Mirror's Edge may have started somewhat of a phenomenon. While parkour has been around in gaming for some time now, it dared to boldly go where games had never gone before: first-person parkour. While the reviews may have been mixed, the cult following was enormous. So, with such things, the clones began to pour out of the woodwork, and the idea was integrated elsewhere to expand and profit off of it. Take heed, though: Lemma is no mere clone.

Lemma is to Mirror's Edge what Okami is to Zelda. While the basic idea of free running in the first person is present, Lemma sets itself apart as a genuinely unique experience. It's like a metaphysical spin on the formula, and it works wonderfully. At least, it works wonderfully when it works.

Trying to explain Lemma's story is mostly a waste of time, as it is incredibly confusing. Attempting to place the player in a world that seems to behave solely in the realm of quantum math is interesting, but the story is largely just filler. It doesn't make much sense, and tends to lean to the "look how smart this sounds" side of things. Notes fill the game, and much like their video game brethren, audio logs, are largely hit and miss.

Screenshot for Lemma on PC

None of that is important, because Lemma works best when it is a raw experience. Frankly, the game doesn't need a story because the gameplay is so exciting. The tutorial stage is very cumbersome, but what unfolds afterwards is truly exhilarating. Free running is tight and precise for the most part, and most failures are entirely your own. The largest issue, speaking exclusively of controls, is anything requiring the Left Shift key. This is mapped to several things, from slow-motion running to scaling and wall running. It also allows the player to grab ledges, as Lemma doesn't even hand the player that. It's refreshing to feel like you have complete control over the character, but having to tap Left shift several times to perform one move can be cumbersome.

Free running is no fun without a really interesting environment to explore, and Lemma has that in spades. From a distance, it appears like a large grid of voxel art, in the vein of Minecraft. However, closer inspection shows that the environment is actually finely detailed. Textures pop and look stunning under the microscope. Either way, the game is breathtakingly pretty, and the juxtaposition is just a nice touch to throw players off.

Screenshot for Lemma on PC

The puzzles, of which the game has plenty of, tend to be very abstract, which isn't always a bad thing. The player's movement in the world largely changes the world's very characteristics. This leads to puzzles that actually require a good control of the first-person parkour, as many times the platform you need to jump to won't appear until you're almost on top of it. Watching entire sections of the world unfold around you is just as stunning as the world itself, and creates a sense of endless wonder.

The problem is that many times the game teaches you by example, and this can lead to a lot to frustration. Trying to figure out why a weird red cube materialized nearby is interrupted by the discovery that it is a bomb. This is how the game teaches about all hazards, a very "learn by failing" approach. While this approach isn't always bad, it can undercut the quick feel the game seems to be going for. Dying is rewarded by almost immediate respawning, and usually very close to where you died. In the end, the trial-and-error gameplay doesn't feel like a hindrance, but it does feel out of place.

Screenshot for Lemma on PC

The game's physics also work in wonky ways, sometimes leading to failures that aren't exclusive to the player's input. Running up walls in the game is absolutely dreadful. Remember the Left shift button? In order to run up a wall, the player must hold it down. Then at the top, they have to tap it again to pull themselves onto the wall. Otherwise, the player somehow manages to stand straight up in mid-air, just off the edge, and fall back down. Also, if the player tries to jump while ascending the wall, they will go flying backwards, often falling to their death. The game calculates fall damage, and seems inconsistent when killing the player off. Sometimes it's a huge drop, and sometimes the player will die after falling down a few steps. These are all fairly minor annoyances, but they lead to a great experience with inconsistent flaws.

Screenshot for Lemma on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Lemma may be a solid experience, but it holds itself back from being one of the greats. It's beautiful, in a "look at the minor details" kind of way. The controls are fluid, though some of them get in the way more than they help. While the game has its share of hang-ups, it's still a great, raw experience. Some games try to be flashy and shoot for the fences. Lemma instead takes the concept it is using and delivers it in a strong, fresh experience. While it only gives the player the beautiful environment and intense gameplay, it does so more effectively than many games that are much deeper.

Developer

Evan Todd

Publisher

Evan Todd

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I didn't find the puzzles to be that logical, got stuck on a few. Still, this is a fun game to play.

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