I played a freemium game and I liked it
If you frequent Touchgen you have likely read one of my rants against the freemium system, or the abuse of in app purchases within paid games. I typically mention that these games should create compelling content to charge for as opposed to placing countless walls within the game that can only be scaled with the assistance of paid in-game currency. Kumo Lumo doesn’t do freemium the way I urge developers to, but it doesn’t do it the traditional way either. Kumo Lumo does freemium wrong in a way that perplexes me.
I was able to play through the entirety of Kumo Lumo without ever feeling pressured to make a purchase. The ever present “buy coins” option was there, as was the sneaky switch of the “continue” button with the “post to facebook” button. Initially, I was inclined to begrudge the game for these inclusions, but after some time I realized that there was no need to purchase or post anything. At the close of the game, the developers simply ask you to make a purchase of gold. Their approach is so earnest, and the amount of content given to players for free (the whole game), that I hope players are willing to put something into the virtual tip jar.
Kumo Lumo starts out slow, and at first I was convinced that the game was a strategy title. As a cloud, your job is to fly around the circumference of a planet and drop rain to grow trees, save whales, raise mountain ranges, and develop cities. All of these acts help develop small clouds to replenish your rain, lure enemies, or produce bonus points. Rain can also be used to kill enemies on the ground and dark clouds- some of which have sticks of dynamite in them. These enemies seek to harm parts of the world that you have healed, and can even damage the player’s cloud. Enemies initially come at a slow pace, and there is little skill or thought involved. The sluggish outset of the game gave me the impression that it would evolve to be focused on the management of the planet’s resources in the hopes of eradicating the enemy threat.
My expectations couldn’t have been further off. In fact, Kumo Lumo eventually becomes a fast-paced arcade style. Strategy is out the window, and tactics consist of either healing or killing everything you run across. Eventually, as the missions become more hectic and objectives become less manageable, the player will have to forgo interacting with everything in their path, but the more points you rack up the more likely you are to unlock coins to upgrade your cloud.
The hectic action is inevitably hampered by some of Kumo Lumo’s technical flaws. Framerate drops, especially when saving whales, can be catastrophic. I constantly found myself losing control of my cloud and unwillingly ending up in the path of a destructive volcano.
These are things that can all be worked out, and at the low price of free it is hard to hold it against Kumo Lumo. I would have more harshly judged the technical hitches if Kumo Lumo had been paid, or if IAP were required for gameplay. Kumo Lumo is a decent, colorful game that is perplexingly free.
Kumo Lumo is available as a free Universal download on the App Store.