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Review: Super Lucky’s Tale

Super Lucky’s Tale is the sequel to the Oculus Rift exclusive Lucky’s Tale, a VR platforming game that didn’t succeed in amassing a large enough fanbase to convince Oculus to release another title on its platform. This is why the developer, Playful, was picked up by Microsoft, who ordered them to make a game to release at the same time as their premium console, the Xbox One X. Let’s see if Super Lucky’s Tale is a decent platformer and launch title.

Simple narrative

From the start, it is made clear that Super Lucky’s Tale is primarily aimed towards the younger gaming crowd. The game is filled with colorful visuals and cartoonish designs that look great, especially in 4K. The story is simple and is narrated by Lyra, a Guardian, who travels the world in search of adventure. When she returns home to her brother, Lucky, she brought with her the Book of Ages, a magical book that connects worlds with each other and can also rewrite history. Unfortunately, the two foxes get ambushed by the dreaded Kitty Litter, a family of cats that want the Book of Ages for their own diabolical plans. After a scuffle, Lucky and the Kitty Litter get sucked into the book and land on a foreign world. It’s now up to Lucky to defeat the Kitty Litter and find a way back to his sister.

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Meet the Kitty Litter family

Not much can be said about the story. It’s short and simple, but it does its job well enough to give the player a motivation to continue until the end. The interactions with the Kitty Litter are the highlight, even though they’re not exactly memorable. Most of their dialogue consists out of cat-related puns, which work most of the time, but some of them are quite a reach. But then again, this game is obviously aimed at kids so expecting a deep plot or intriguing characters is kinda wishful thinking.

Bland gameplay

The gameplay of Super Lucky’s Tale is exactly what you would expect from an indie 3D platforming game. You run through either a 3D environment or a sidescrolling level. The main goal of every level is to reach the end and collect every lucky clover. Each level contains four cloves, which have the same requirements to earn them. You get one for simply reaching the end of the level, one for collecting 300 coins, one for finding a hidden area and lastly, one for collecting five letters that spell ‘LUCKY’. Throughout the entire game are 99 clovers to be collected, 80 of those are needed to unlock the final boss. The boss fights are best compared to how the Super Mario games design them. Every boss has a certain attack pattern that you need to avoid until it stops, after which you attack its weak spot two or three times. After you defeat a boss, you unlock the next world that offers a different scenery.

Lucky Clovers are the most important items in the game
Lucky Clovers are the most important items in the game

All these things are nothing original and have been done many, many times before. The only ‘new’ mechanic that Super Lucky’s Tale offers is the digging move that Lucky can do. After jumping in the air, you can make Lucky dive into the ground and move around, as long as you stay on a surface that he can dig in. This move is handy for avoiding enemies and attacking them from behind, or for reaching certain areas that seem to be completely locked off. It doesn’t add much to the overall experience, but it shows that the developers at least made an attempt to try something different.

There are also some puzzle areas that change up the gameplay a little bit. They’re pretty easy to solve (again, this IS a kids game) but some of them were pretty fun to mess around with. One of them even works as a boss fight, in which you have to move Lucky around on a gyroscope controlled platform while avoiding falling through several holes scattered throughout it. Another puzzle has you slide a statue across a grid on which you have to reach a certain spot to place to statue one. None of the puzzles are original in terms of game design, but their variety is what makes the game a fun experience at times.

Some of the puzzles are fun
Some of the puzzles are fun

Weird camera control

The main issue I have with Super Lucky’s Tale is the poorly implemented camera. You basically have no control over it, except you can tilt a little to both sides. This is not a big issue in the sidescrolling levels, but it is in the 3D ones. Running around in a 3D environment with no control over the camera results in poor depth perception. I often lost a life by thinking that I had enough room to move Lucky, only to realize that the edge of the platform he was standing on was way closer to him than I thought. After a while, I began to get used to this but I still had some trouble every now and then. If there’s going to be a third Lucky’s Tale game, I hope it comes with a rotating camera.

The camera can only move a little to the left or right
The camera can only move a little to the left or right

Technicalities

Super Lucky’s Tale, while a beautiful game to look at, is not a graphically demanding game. Most of its pleasant visuals are a result of the great art style. I bring this up because the game struggles to maintain a steady framerate, which shouldn’t be the case with a game that doesn’t look like it requires a lot of GPU power. On the original Xbox One, the game runs at a 1080p resolution with a framerate of 60 fps. The problem, however, is that the framerate is not consistent and often drops with ten frames or more. It also suffers from micro stuttering, which hurts the gameplay experience. While I don’t have an Xbox One X myself to confirm this, there have already been similar complaints about that version, which displays at a 4K resolution but has the same frame drops and micro stuttering. Since this is an Xbox Play Anywhere title, I also checked out the PC version on any issues. Luckily, the PC build seems to have no trouble with maintaining a steady framerate of 60fps. However, this build suffers from a far greater issue: hard crashes. Every time I booted the game on my PC, it hard crashed to my desktop after 15 minutes or so of gameplay. Should you consider buying this game, then I’d suggest avoiding playing this on the pc and waiting a little for the Xbox version until it has received some patches.

Verdict

Super Lucky’s Tale is a harmless kids game that has nothing new or special to offer except for its visual art style. While it’s a solid platformer on its own, the poorly designed camera and framerate issues are what’s keeping me from recommending this to anyone. Which is a shame because I do believe that Microsoft may have a potential mascot for its platform with Lucky.

5/10

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