An arcade game screen greets you, flashing messages urging at least one player to start the game. An attract mode plays underneath boxes, holding high scores and what little context there is for the world shown underneath, wobbly landmasses growing forth as enemies unnaturally walk upon said boxes. From what you can glean, an awful wizard has taken control of the psi crystals and Repletes have a fiery disposition. Say no more. You hit “1” and hop right into the game.
luminous corridor 0 is a pay-what-you-want twin-stick shooter by Loren Schmidt (or, vacuumflowers), because I haven’t talked enough about shooters this month. luminous corridor 0 is a sequel to, uh, luminous corridor 2, adding and improving a bunch of things from that game.
You are the almighty Psi Guy, blasting away at waves of enemies with your psionic powers. The main goal isn’t to beat these waves, rather, the goal is to collect the psi crystals that occasionally appear. Collecting them seems simple, yes, but they’re a force to be reckoned with if you’re not careful. If you’re firing without care and hit one, it begins to violently shake, doomed to explode in a telegraphed radius. The now explosive crystal can be diffused if you pick it up before it does so, but if you don’t, not only can the explosion hurt you, but it can also set off nearby crystals to explode, causing a chain reaction if you’re not quick and careful about things.
Characterizing the game is its cellular terrain system. Atop the black void background, paths for monsters called sowers appear on the screen (either as checkerboard patterns or a plain red, depending on settings). These faces begin streaking across the screen, planting cells behind them. These cells grow and connect, forming structures across the playing field. The line-based structures in particular, as seen in the screenshot below, are especially beautiful with how they weave and connect together to form a large mass.
The land drawn into the world by the sowers is harmful to touch, which can be somewhat frustrating if you touch a small chunk and die. The generated land ultimately poses the problem of limiting your space, which can be a problem as enemy waves get more threatening. Thankfully, the land is destructible, the cellular land breaking away to shots; the mighty Chew Chew enemies will also chew away through land in their path, building tunnels that you can take advantage of. It may also be beneficial to rig a crystal to explode; sure, you’ll lose out on points, but the explosion also clears out a lot of land, which is handy for when the screen gets too crowded. This and how the terrain builds itself makes the game’s arena feel very dynamic, which isn’t something I can say for a lot of twin-stick games I played for this blog.
Aside from structure generation, I feel that the game’s music – by Katie Rose Pipkin – helps define it. Instead of something high energy, the game’s music feels calm. It gives an adventurous mood, but the adventure is that of an archaeological dig, carefully combing through dirt to unearth the psi crystals hidden within. Certainly gives a different feel from other twin-sticks, at least.
There is a co-op mode and while I couldn’t rope my sister in to play this with me, I dared myself to play both characters. Needless to say, I was bad at it, but the co-op seems to work. Two heads certainly seem better than one, but these two heads also share lives, so there’s also that greater risk of getting a game over.
luminous corridor 0 is a nice shooter with an interesting aesthetic that’s in line with vacuumflower’s other works. Though, that aesthetic may be troubling to those that are photosensitive, so the game includes accessibility features that hopefully helps some players out and the instructions suggest reaching out to the creator for accessibility feedback. It’s always great to have games more open to people, ya know?