When details of Illuminum were released in the US, America's metal industry praised the efforts of the game's developer for highlighting the recyclable properties of this natural resource in the current climate obsessed era. It is, after all, a video game simulator based on the tricky yet inexpensive process of producing a conductive, non-corroding metal, which is both strong and light
Actually, Illuminum has nothing to do with aluminium (which, if we've lost you, Americans refer to as 'aloominum' – geddit?). Instead, this is a role-playing game in which you take control of a warrior called Eric.
Your quest is to ascend the Illuminum tower, and rid it of the strange evil that has invaded its vast corridors. And as you set off initially armed with just a small dagger and wooden shield, it's not going to be easy.
The game is a traditional RPG with an isometric viewpoint of the gameworld as you move Eric around the maze-like corridors of the tower, facing increasingly tougher creatures. Eric is a sprightly fellow, however, and he gets around the levels with impressive speed – just as well, as once the baddies give chase they're difficult to lose.
Each stage is essentially another floor of the tower, and you must check out your map to find your bearings. The map pinpoints your location, clearly, whilst also showing the doorways for going up and down a level, and the whereabouts of the magic portal back to the town.
The drawback is that you can only see the corridors and possible routes on the map after you've actually explored them. This isn't so bad until you reach the later levels, where you'll find after every few steps that you're constantly glancing back to the map to see how close you are to your goal. Mind you, this does create a good sense of urgency.
The central point of the entire game is the town. You need to go here to trade and sell weapons with the blacksmith, buy healing potions and other goodies from the shopkeeper, and even purchase beer from the tavern. The town also serves as the place where people assign you with tasks, which have to be completed to gain objects and money, vital to your journey.
The tasks are all the same in principle. You're asked to kill a set number of a specific creatures that are creeping around the innards of the tower. In return you gain a reward, be it money, signets to pass to the next level, or items that grant you magic powers. As you progress, the enemies get tougher and the rewards increase – receive gold and this can be reinvested in your equipment so as to upgrade your main weapon and shield.
As in most RPGs, your attacks on enemies (dealt with a swift press of the thumbstick) take off an amount of health points dependent on the offensive rating of the weapon you currently have in your hands – so the stronger your armament, the harder you strike. But, also typically, you can recur to magical powers, which you develop throughout the game to serve as special weapons.
Graphically, Illuminum is a polished affair and everything moves smoothly. There's a pleasingly fine amount of detail and visual effects, while there's good use of sound in-game, too.
The presentation doesn't mask the fact the game is effectively a watered down example of an RPG, however. Despite this, many of the key elements have been included and there's certainly an undeniable addictive quality to Illuminum. Fans of the genre will find much to like here, then, although long-term they may hanker for a little more variety and depth.