Burrowed amongst the glitz and glamour of Microsoft’s 2017 E3 press conference was a promising new 3D platformer that left Xbox fans with an intrigued sense of anticipation for the arrival of a small hero, and the adventures that he would pursue. With November finally arriving we now have the chance to play as our furry friend and see if the excitement that surrounded the game’s E3 debut was short-lived, or whether it has improved with the release of the full experience.
In Super Lucky’s Tale, you follow the story of Lucky himself, a fearless young fox who tackles danger head-on in a personal journey of bravery and skill. The game sees Lucky go toe to toe with Jinx, a powerful figurehead who will stop at nothing in his desire to retrieve the much sort after Book of Ages. With the addition of Jinx’s equally menacing ‘Kitty Litter’ scattered across the game’s worlds, Lucky must embark on his own adventure that sees him take on the devious and menacing gang of cat siblings and begin to navigate his way through the pages of this mysterious Book of Ages.
The game bases itself on travelling through four different worlds in search of the individual levels and mini-games that are distributed throughout that set area. Once the player has dived into a specific level, they must complete a series of objectives that awards them with individual tokens of four-leaf clovers – only when the right number of clovers have been collected is the world’s boss battle unlocked, and the chance granted for the player to move onto the next area.
On the most part, the majority of level objectives are fairly straightforward, but it’s the actual finding and completing of these that really begin to test the player’s patience and ability to leave no stone unturned. For instance, some levels look that straightforward that by the time you get to the end you are left scratching your head as to where the other remaining clovers could be situated. What the makers of Super Lucky’s Tale have therefore succeeded in achieving is the cleverly integrated and hiding of certain secrets across the specific worlds. They have done this in such a way that continually keeps players guessing as to where the elusive clovers can be and by doing so have produced a series of levels whereby none are a clear walkover. The sense of depth and tricky nature to the secrets is a feature that gamers should welcome to their experience, for it is something that highlights the importance of success having to be earned and not being handed down on a plate.
Described by Paul Bettner, the CEO and founder of Playful Corp as a ‘playground platformer’, Super Lucky’s Tale also looks toward the goal of presenting a game that offers a varying degree of uniqueness to its level design, constantly awarding the player with a differing sense of new and exciting experiences.
It is through this that the design is arguably the single most impressive feature to the game and it is easy to say that the studio goal of a so-called ‘playground platformer’ has well and truly been achieved. For instance, individual levels offer new and immersing content throughout and succeed in maintaining a certain sense of freshness even after putting several hours into the story.
Further support for the constantly fresh experience to the game are the world’s in which the levels are situated. Each individual world not only takes on a different sort of layout and theme, but also portrays a sort of minimised sandbox design by which players are given the opportunity to scour the edges first, in search of its coins and treasures, without actually being forced to jump into a level. This openness is something that gives the game a sense of personal care taken with its development and also awards the player with a certain freedom of playing how they want to – not how the developers want you to.
The single most frustrating feature associated with Super Lucky’s Tale however, is the awkward, bordering on infuriating, game controls. They are clunky, they feel unnatural, and they really hinder your experience when trying to get through the individual levels. It is the process of jumping on enemies, and the landing on certain platforms that really highlights this problem, as it’s a feeling that you don’t really notice at the start. By the halfway stage though you’re unfortunately shaking your head more and more at the loss of lives for unnecessary awkwardness. There is no fun in double jumping and constantly moving your analog stick because you have no trust in where Lucky will land; it’s a feature that cannot be excused as a small problem either, as controls are a benchmark feature to any platformer and to get them this wrong really is unfortunate.
Super Lucky’s Tale is, therefore, a game of two separate experiences. On the one hand, you have this vibrant, colourful, immersing playground platformer that allows you to really appreciate and distinguish the care and thought behind the game’s production. On the other hand, however, are the genuine problems and frustrations associated with the controls. This is something that clearly begins to dampen your time playing, as the unwanted and unexplained clunky movements start to be highlighted more frequently as you begin to make progress.
It must be said that players should take the criticisms of Super Lucky’s Tale with a pinch of salt. The drawbacks stated above, although clearly apparent, are just a small fraction amongst so much good within the game. Super Lucky’s Tale is still a good-hearted family fun title that should pride itself on being a game that all ages can enjoy, and by completion, you will truly feel you have been treated to a game that does well in immersing you into the story of a small young fox, and the adventure he embarks on.