It’s like Mirror’s Edge but with physics and voxels
Lemma, which is out tomorrow on Steam, might be the best way to spend your time until Mirror’s Edge 2 finally arrives.
Developed by Evan Todd, Lemma follows a young woman, Joan, as she navigates her way through a cubical dream world. Except Joan doesn’t just walk, she runs, jumps, slides, and kicks her way through the alien space.
I’ve played the first hour of the game (highlights above). Here’s why I can’t wait to jump back into it.
When it wants to, and it often does, Lemma moves. Joan’s first-person sprint builds a sense of momentum and the quick release of that tension when you leap to a platform or slide through an obstacle is incredibly satisfying. There’s a fluidity to the movement and forgiveness that keeps the game kinetic. I liken it to the Batman Arkham games’ combat. It’s not hard to get the job done, but it looks great and feels great while you do it. You almost forget that you’re not doing anything complicated on the controller as Batman slams thugs around deflects their attacks. Lemma isn’t too complicated, at least in its first hour, but it doesn’t matter because you feel like you’re pulling amazing feats off anyway.
And then you get the ability to create paths by wall-running or rolling off edges. Suddenly you have a little bit of power over the impossible environments. I’m not sure where it’ll go, but I’m into it.
One of the most striking things about Mirror’s Edge is its contrasting white and red visual palette. It’s beautiful to see a city painted that way but it’s also very useful as you dart through the levels. The game teaches you that red objects can be interacted with. Lemma doesn’t copy the same concept but it does have important cues that tell you when you need to slide through something, run up something, climb up something, and jump over something. Or, when it starts to introduce some twists, what colors to stay away from and which ones to walk over. This is really vital to a game that is built so you don’t spend a huge amount of time standing in place. The route planning has to happen in motion and Lemma understands this well.
I’m not far into Lemma, but already I can see there’s some weird, math-related things going on in the world. As you make your way through the game, you find notes left by your colleague, Mark. He clearly knows more than you do about this world and has some amount of authority over it, which you see as you start to talk to him in real-time, through text messages at the game’s various cell phone signal towers.
When you text Mark you get to choose how to respond and most of the time I found that Joan’s reactions were spot-on with what I wanted to see, which was nice, because since she doesn’t communicate in any other way, I just assumed she was in a similar mindset. So most of the time I was trying to get Mark to spill on what’s happening and why it’s happening. Mark let me down, but there’s a lot of game left for him to start explaining.
All the necessary mystery is present though and I’m eager to get back in and see what’s up.