Illumine from Dejima
Illumine is a new take on the Roguelike subgenre, although it may not seem so at first glance.
Focusing majorly on exploration and discovery, Illumine is a game about life, death and rebirth. Sounds common in the video game industry – however, this experience is anything but common.
Simplistic yet Entertaining
With the simple controls of four-directional movement and one action button, each attempt in this world revolves around the theme of rebirth and the journey of life. Starting as a different symbol each run, players must make their way through negative space, destroying it to open new paths and changing the view of the world.
Basically, the main objective is to find books. As the seasons and background colors change, a light “sonar” will emanate from the location of the next book, guiding the player to each tome. Finding books is the key to literally stacking literature, which will act as a score for each attempt at rebirth.
A Matter of Life and Death
Throughout the journey in Illumine, players will encounter letters. With the action button, players can communicate with these letters in order to further unlock more features for future level runs. A single level run will only last several minutes. Not all letters exist for the purpose of progression, and will instead end your life.
This is where I discovered that Illumine was about so much more than a game about opening new paths, interacting with letters and symbols and avoiding imminent death. Death has a purpose.
For Every Action, a Reaction
As I have mentioned previously, Illumine is about life. Not only life, but also spirituality. Karma plays just as much of a role in the game as rebirth, and certain interactions in one life will carry a direct consequence in the next one. While avoiding giant vowels that exist only to destroy, players will also have the chance to interact with friends and enemies that can either positively or negatively impact a play-through. It can be a delicate balance.
Nothing in Illumine remains the same. Each attempt at rebirth feels like a different experience. Since the main charm of this game lies within exploration and discovery, I won’t go into much more depth about the game itself. I will say this, however; sound is extremely important.
This is another game I would highly recommend playing with headphones. Each action and enemy movement have a direct result in the game soundtrack, much like in Bit.Trip.Runner. Consisting of soundscapes as opposed to musical tracks, the music in Illumine helps to keep the player in a frame of mind that directly correlates with what is happening around them. Helping invoke a soothing mood or a tense atmosphere when necessary, this is one aspect of the game that really makes it stand out.
I Think, therefore I Am
Illumine is a delightful dive into existentialism – one that caught me by surprise. A simple game that is easily accessible by anyone, it manages to immediately draw the player with curiosity, rewarding exploration with enlightenment.
Now that I’m finished writing about it, I’m off to ponder my life decisions and focus my social efforts on kindness. Thanks, Illumine!
Illumine is available via Steam.
Watch the Official trailer for Illumine below: