The Count Lucanor is an adventure game with RPG, puzzle and horror elements and comes together to make an interesting game. The game was developed by Baroque Decay Games and you play from a top down view.
The Count Lucanor clearly takes a lot of inspiration from popular games, such as Zelda and Earthbound in terms of style and also feels like games such as Dark Souls and a variety of horror games. I recently played the fantastic Undertale game and like that, The Count Lucanor also uses 8 and 16-bit style graphics with an electronic soundtrack.
It starts out with a short animated cutscene before beginning in a house where you play as Hans. Hans is living with his mother and today is his 10th birthday. Hans is sick and tired of being poor, which has been the case since his father went off to war. The story starts and sees you arguing with your mother. Hans decides to leave home and set out on a dangerous journey. His mother doesn’t seem to put up much of a fight to keep him at home and lets Hans go. This really reminded me of games like Earthbound and Zelda, where you play as a young child with parents that don’t seem to have a problem with letting their kids wander off. Before setting off Hans mother gives him some useful items that include cheese, 3 gold coins and a cane. You then set off on your journey and it soon becomes clear that Hans doesn’t know much about the outside world and what it’s really like to be alone.
The world around you starts out by looking bright, vibrant and full of colour. It feels like a happy place with lush scenery and pleasant atmosphere, but as you progress and get deeper into the world it soon becomes clear that things aren’t what they seem. You begin to meet various characters along your way and before I knew it all my possessions had been taken from me. After meeting a stranger, who seemed friendly enough, who owns a herd of goats, the world changes. The world is plunged into darkness and you have to use candlelight to guide your way. I really liked how the whole tone and feel of the world changed and suddenly felt like a completely different game. The rivers run with blood, goats have decapitated the friendly goat herder and the music feels daunting. You are chased and before you know it a giant raven with bloodshot eyes attacks you.
I don’t want to give too much detail on the actual story, but Hans is basically told he will inherit great wealth if he manages to pass a series of trials. You find yourself trapped in a mysterious castle and this is where your adventure really begins.
The gameplay is great and feels like many classic 8-bit and 16-bit RPGs like The Legend of Zelda and more recently Undertale. There are various puzzles that you will encounter as you explore the creepy castle and once you solve them you will receive a letter, which you will use to try and figure out the identity of the unknown figure. The puzzles are easy enough and never really feel too challenging, but still feels satisfying to solve. The game also seems to take inspiration from many classic horror games and genres like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Lighting is a core part of how you see the world around you and using your candle to search in the dark feels genuinely creepy. The game may use a simplistic pixel art style, but it still manages to feel scary and at times has some quite gory and sinister elements.
Hans can’t use combat and you can’t defend yourself from enemies. It’s also important to mention how slowly Hans actually walks, which adds to the tension when you are being stalked. You can save your progress by spending coins at the fountain at the central point of the castle. This actually reminded me a bit of the Dark Souls series as you find yourself trying to get back to the checkpoint to save your progress without dying. I really loved how supplies are limited and it truly feels challenging with some really high tension moments.
The overall presentation is great, with awesome world design that uses a really charming pixel art style. We are seeing a lot of games replicating popular retro style games with the likes of Undertale, Axiom Verge and Shovel Knight and again it looks great here. The character design is simple but looks great and every person you meet feels unique and interesting. The level design is similar to Zelda games, in the sense that there are large open spaces of greenery and also has large gloomy castles that you must explore. I also want to mention just how much I loved the animated cutscenes. They are vibrant, full of character and it’s a shame they weren’t used more often during the game. The sound design is fantastic, with electronic beats and varied chiptune tracks. The game overall has gone for a basic style and design which works brilliantly and really manages to create a unique and interesting atmosphere.
In conclusion I have to say I was really impressed with this game. The gameplay and design are simple, well thought out and has good pacing. The world changes as you progress and I found the world truly absorbing in interesting to explore. It clearly draws inspiration from many classic games, but that’s not a bad thing and it still manages to have its own unique traits and gameplay elements. I would strongly recommend this game if you’re a fan of retro looking games like Zelda or Undertale or you like a game that has a horror theme whilst still looking beautifully designed.
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