There's a moment in Lumencraft's debut trailer that absolutely sold me on its concept. Between all the bug shooting and rock-blasting particle effects, it's a simple river of physics-based lava that looks like the biggest threat, trickling its way into every tunnel you dig, overflowing into every moat you make.
Lumencraft developer 2Dynamic Games describes it as a top-down shooter with tower defense elements like turrets to fend off huge swarms of underground bugs. You're humanity's last hope to obtain the precious Lumen minerals, which store up enough energy to stave off extinction. Like all macguffins, you're not the only one after the Lumen minerals, or the only one willing to fight for them.
In what I can only describe as "not your daddy's Dig Dug," gameplay has you drilling your way through a darkly lit cave system to search for resources or enemies, with some impressively detailed physics. As you drill, tunnel walls form around you with the same satisfying feeling you get from power washing, or from toppling a tower in Teardown. I'm also reminded of the similarly physics-based Noita, where every pixel is simulated and impacted by elements. Throw a grenade and its blast radius will chunk everything in an almost perfect circle to pieces, but the ensuing destruction also means that the remaining rock wall is weak enough to crumble under the heat of the lava on the other side.
The lava starts flowing, quickly inching closer to you, and it looks like your options are limited: Use your drill to dig a moat or a new tunnel that will hopefully divert it far, far away. Environmental destruction also plays a role in building and defending a base, letting you shoot through your base's own walls to create chokepoints. The trailer's finale shows the player dodging swipes from a giant cave troll-like creature. Whenever the troll swings its arms, it takes a chunk of cave with it, altering the battlefield on the fly.
2Dynamic Games says they're taking inspiration from similar top-down action games like Alien Breed and Darkwood. Helping 2Dynamic with production is Star Drifters, another Polish studio with some experience in top-down shooters via their game Danger Scavenger.
Lumencraft is releasing in Early Access sometime "in the coming months," but the full version aims to add a skill progression system through nonlinear missions, more biomes, and different map types. The good news? You can get an early taste of Lumencraft when its demo releases on October 1 as part of Steam Next Fest.