When it comes to games, there’s always a risky element to combining genres, or known themes of games. It may work and work well, or it may flop and then some. But what if I told you that The Count Lucanor was a mash-up of Silent Hill and Zelda? You’d think I was bonkers, and rightly so. What appears on the surface to be a cute pixel art game, hides a lurking horror, a genuinely disturbing and surreal adventure for our 10 year old hero, Hans.
The pixel art cut scene that begins rolling as you start the game for the first time, offers no clue as to the disturbing and deranged world of Count Lucanor. And why should it? After all, you’re just a cock sure 10 year old boy who thinks he knows just how grown up he is, and that he knows best. Isn’t that what teenagers think? Or Gs the world gone mad? Whatever the situation with kids today is; Hans knows best, and is off to see the world. This is the start of your adventure.
After meeting with 3 characters, unless you choose not to of course, this is where the real fun begins. Your choice to either offer help or interact with the 3 people does have possible consequences in story progression by the way. You soon find yourself waking up late at night, and all soon becomes clear that something is just off. Following the little, blue faced creature, you finally reach a castle. Was that there before? Who knows. Thankfully, this creature doesn’t have intent of causing you harm, but does give you the chance to find the legendary treasure of Count Lucanor, and hopefully succeed where others have failed. But you’re just a 10 year old boy, right?
Gameplay is very easy to get to grips with, and you’ll soon be exploring the dark and oppressive castle in search of the treasure. It’s not as simple as I make it sound though. There’s locked doors that require coloured keys, sneaky traps, hidden areas, and finally, deadly enemies to avoid, and they will hunt you down should you venture too close.
The shadows hide much on your travels, and finding candles is key to lighting the way through the dark castle rooms and corridors. It’s not that big, which is a shame, as I’d liked to have had a larger game world to explore. Although the castle has plenty of places to explore, and different paths to take the story depending on which ending you’re after. Of which there are 5 on offer.
It would be grossly unfair to talk too much about the story, and the endings, as this will be a huge spoiler, and ruin the experience. To go in blind with any knowledge is by far the best way, as this allows you to trial and error your way through, as you search for the Kobold’s name, and various items that will inevitably help you along the way.
Once you’ve reached the dungeon at the end, and just before you reach the final ending sequence, you are treated to what is quite possibly one of the more disturbing sections of any indie game yet. At least for me it is. A sense of unease and uncertainty will be strong here, as you witness some quite grim scenes, and plenty of the red stuff. Needless to say, I’ll leave it here and allow you, the reader to explore further. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
As for the story, it’s an intriguing tale, and with the possibility of 5 different endings, offers plenty of replay value should replaying a game to experience all it has to offer appeal to your finance savvy nature. For me it is certainly worth picking up at that price, and having to change tactics for each playthrough gave me a sense of satisfaction.
The Count Lucanor is a short game, especially for those with little spare time who may end up only playing once. So factor this is before you purchase. But for what is a Dark game in terms of not just atmosphere, but also the scenes that lie ahead, it may tempt those who like a bit of gore and horror.
The Count Lucanor offers a relatively easy achievement list for those that hunt them. Although do note that 5 endings that all require different actions are a part of the list. Plan ahead though, and you can get them all off one save file should you do what’s necessary. The story while easily understood isn’t a deep and engaging narrative that sucks you in for hours, and just lets you play. A good quality game.
Overall Score 8/10
Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Merge Games
Release Date: 21st March 2018
File Size: 481MB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch & Steam