Hunter’s Legacy came out back in January but pretty much flew under my radar, and to be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I fired it up for the first time. With March seeming to be such an amazing month for games, and my “to play” pile already at an all time high, sitting down to play another game on top of all of that didn’t really appeal – but after half an hour, Hunter’s Legacy had done something to get me hooked, and managed t0 draw me away from all of that and into the little side-scrolling world that developer’s Lienzo have created.
You play as Ikki, a feisty feline from Iripur, on a quest to retrieve the sacred Fang of Alliance, stolen by the evil Lord Morodir (there’s always evil lord’s involved somewhere, isn’t there?). This is all quickly explained during the opening cinematic that harks back to the days of old on the SNES, a little picture with text scrolling underneath, and it soon becomes clear that this reference was intentional – Hunter’s Legacy plays like an old school platformer – and this is a good thing.
For one thing, it allowed me to pick up and play quite quickly, switching off and jumping in didn’t take much doing, and working out what to do our how to play was never really an issue, and what I found was I had missed this in a game. How often do you stop playing a game only to come back to it days or weeks later only to have forgotten what you were doing, or even the controls? Hunter’s Legacy avoids all that by keeping the premise and controls simple, and this had a certain appeal to playing it, reminiscent of an earlier time in gaming where it was a case of pick up the control pad and fire a game in the console. I did find Hunter’s Legacy triggering bouts of nostalgia, and this was only a good thing.
Ikki can do all the usual platforming shenanigans, jumping and rolling and swinging a sword are child’s (cat’s) play, and each side scrolling level plays out over the course of a good hour or so as you navigate your way through enemies and obstacles. Ikki has a sword attack to start with, and early on a bow is also acquired to help you fight your way to the end of each stage. Sword attacks are handled with a simple button press, and the bow by pressing Y and then aiming with the analogue stick. These attacks are simple but effective, and work well enough against the games earlier enemies who damage you when you touch them, but later a bit of strategy comes into play as more enemies are introduced and newer abilities unlocked.
The levels themselves reminded me of Terraria in appearance, with lighter coloured blocks making up the foreground and darker shades the background, and this simple set up works nicely, and further gives the game a retro feel. Having played computer games since the late 80’s, I hate it when games try too hard to be retro, but I think this is a term that describes Hunter’s Legacy well. Some developers think by making games difficult, and using a 2D graphics engine, or sprites, or chiptunes, they are instantly retro – to me this completely misses the point. Games back then are considered retro because of the technical limitations put upon them, and the style of gameplay that they employed as a result. Often games were made difficult because of lack of hardware meaning things like save points were none existent. Hunter’s Legacy understands this, and as a result is retro in that it plays more in the form of an older generation game, running and jumping from platforms, swiping enemies with simple attacks of the sword, but it also feels modern at the same time, with a natural learning curve that doesn’t punish you from the onset. This coming together of old and new works well, and gives Hunter’s Legacy a bit of identity among the retro-wannabe crowd – and in reference to the save point issue? Hunter’s Legacy does have checkpoints which are activated as you run past them ala Sonic, meaning the instances upon which you might rage quit are reduced a little bit, but not entirely eliminated.
Already in this review I’ve mentioned other games that Hunter’s Legacy plays like and reminds me of, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, imitation being the highest form of flattery and all. Hunter’s Legacy does pull a few ideas from other games, and combines them in a way that works. Alongside the obvious platform comparisons, Hunter’s Legacy’s other big gameplay idea seems inspired by Metroid, in that unlocking new abilities as you progress allows you to access areas you may have already encountered but couldn’t reach. Often this takes the form of locked gates or areas marked off by indestructible blocks that need some ability or action to open that you simply do not have in your arsenal the first time you encounter them. As such, levels are set out with exploration in mind in order to unlock every ability and hunt down each piece of equipment in order to progress further. This means level’s are cleverly designed, with a lot of verticality and split paths, and often I would find myself thinking about the direction I would take next in order not to miss anything as opposed to rushing through blindly simply hacking and slashing.
Hunter’s Legacy is a fun platformer that harks back to an earlier time in gaming, but with modern add owns included. It did suck me in and allow me to have fun with the time I spent with it, and behind a colourful palette and nostalgia inducing gameplay there lay an enjoyable platformer, that mixes elements from games gone by to create something that is fun, simple and quick to play, which is a positive thing. I still haven’t quite retrieved the Fang of Alliance, and whether I do it this week, or this month, or sometime this year, I know that I will be able to quickly pick up and play Hunter’s Legacy and escape everything else for a little while – and in this day an age, who doesn’t want that?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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