This is a classic case of where I’ve assumed something, and the reality has turned out to be completely different. At first glance I was expecting a cutesy but advanced puzzler with Lanternium. And I can never resist a puzzle game.
However, as soon as the opening cutscene kicked in I knew I was pretty far off the mark. Cutesy yes, but advanced no. Lanternium is a game for kids, but accessible by gamers of any age.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course, depending on which part of the demographic you fall into. Is it one for a 29 year old seasoned games journalist? Perhaps not.
Regardless of who it’s aimed at, the opening cinematic looks very basic – I’m pretty sure the original Xbox could run it comfortably. However, the game itself looks better, more akin to Fortnite. That is of course when you take away the guns and explosives, which leaves you with a simple but effective visual style for the target audience. Kids will love it.
Not only this, but the upbeat, carefree, jolly music will also hit the right tune for the little ones. However, for those gamers heading into adolescence there’s little to zero appeal here. Lanternium has a target audience in mind, and pretty much hits the nail on the head.
But enough about the look and feel, what about the gameplay itself? Well, in Lanternium you play as Raccoon, who is after the fiendish individual who has stolen his cookies. This provides the perfect excuse to embark on an adventure, and navigate numerous puzzles in pursuit of the sweet treat thief.
Each level is a floating puzzle stage made up of numerous blocks. You have to collect a certain amount of cookies in each before the exit portcullis opens and you can move onto the next level. A special lantern, which is gifted to you, holds the power to solidify certain blocks when you match their colour.
The puzzle element soon becomes apparent when you happen across different coloured fireflies which you can capture. However, your lantern can only hold three at a time, meaning some of the coloured blocks will disappear depending on which fireflies you have in captivity. Of course, certain colours can only be obtained by a certain mix of fireflies that are within your lantern (blue and red make purple, for example). But you knew that already, right?
In order to advance in certain levels, you will need to release a firefly onto a cube of matching colour, turning it solid. Be careful however, because if you pick the firefly back up and your lantern changes to the wrong colour, you’ll fall right through the cube and to your doom (I’ve kept it light here, for the kids).
In an effort to add some replayability, each level can also be tackled against the clock, with a maximum of three stars up for grabs for the fastest puzzlers out there. Not only this, but some levels also contain keys, which when collected will open the door to brand new worlds.
The action will gradually become a little more challenging as you play, when you come across different hazardous platforms, such as slippery slopes that can’t be climbed back up, or wooden boards that will crumble after you walk over them. This means your route through those levels will require a little more pre-planning than before.
In terms of controls, the right thumbstick or LB and RB rotate your camera, and the triggers change the colour of the lantern. You can navigate each stage with the left thumbstick or the D-Pad. However, moving with the thumbstick is pretty sensitive, often meaning your little raccoon will plummet to his doom (again, reigning it in). You’re best off using the D-Pad for this one.
As you progress through the puzzles you’ll find out more about the history of the game world, from a wise old snail no less. It’s a nice little addition despite being pretty unsurprising stuff. Still, once again it hits the bullseye for the desired audience.
At £4.19 Lanternium on Xbox One does what it sets out to do pretty well, providing value for money and keeping younger gamers entertained for a good few hours. For the rest of you out there, its gradual pace, cutesy appeal and shallow gameplay may struggle to hold your interest for the long haul.