The first few moments of Little Luca sets up a simple yet evocative storyline. The stars all disappear from the sky, and without their light our world is draped in darkness. It's up to you, dear gamer, to put the shine back into the universe, one star at a time. If the plot line tastes a bit too syrupy, this physics based puzzler should capture your cold heart with its gameplay.
Touching and tapping, along with a healthy does of thinking, are the main requirements for Little Luca. Each level contains three stars to collect, and the goal is to grab them with a white ball that can be moved around by objects, animals, and even Mother Nature. Wind is an important element to the title, and you must determine the ball's reaction to its gusts and direct them to stars and a black hole which gets you out of the level. As the stages progress, collecting stars and accurately getting the ball into the hole gets a bit trickier.
Developers Glowingpine Studios infuse the title with an easy, yet engaging control mechanic. If you want to bounce the ball up to the heavens, tap a morphing object and it will push your object to the skies. Manipulating the wind is accomplished by touching the screen. Certain levels will start off with the ball on top of a moving whale, and just tap Captain Ahab's favorite mammal and watch the projectile go flying through the clouds. It's all pretty simple stuff to pick up, but executing the perfect conditions for star catching is the biggest challenge.
The most unexpected thrill for Little Luca, however, is not the game play, but the actual music provided by Staffan Nilsson. Although diehard gamers may have a bias towards 8-bit inspired tunes, the playful, catchy, and ultimately atmospheric sounds emanating from this title are an absolute standout no matter where your aesthetics lie.
Nilsson's most inspired moment comes from Starmap, a feature that shows players how many stars they have collected. It's an evocative, standalone piece that captures the game's more evocative and transcendent moments. With the aid of music, what begins as a simple puzzler is transformed, for a brief moment, into something entirely different. As you listen to the score weave its magic against a purple tinged backdrop, tap your finger on the windmill atop the hill and watch the light shine from the distance.
There is an overall generosity that permeates throughout Little Luca. When your ball fails to reach the black hole and falls into the water or exits the screen altogether, there is no crashing or mocking sound effect to signal its demise. Instead, the level immediately begins again sans fanfare. Just grab your stars, listen to the awesome music, and move on. When you accomplish something cool, you're also given a little nice pat on the back which, although the following picture is simply a static thank you, it really adds to the spirit of the title.
With over 90 levels in the offing, Little Luca has several different worlds to explore, with an area called the Tick Tock Land coming soon with a future update. The actual game play and visuals, though simple, don't disappoint. The first rate music, which is worth the $0.99 download just by itself, will keep you dreaming for the stars.