The Count Lucanor (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 28.10.2017 1

Review for The Count Lucanor on Nintendo Switch

Videogames have become a viable medium for storytelling. There are many people out there who will play a videogame just for the story alone. With so many talented individuals making whole titles by themselves and making them widely available, there are more options now than ever. It is always interesting when an indie developer chooses to push the medium forward in a positive way and the team at Baroque Decay infused elements of horror and adventure gaming into its branching narrative game, The Count Lucanor. On the Nintendo Switch, though, all is not as it could, or should, have been...

The Count Lucanor by Baroque Decay games is a lovingly crafted little adventure that follows the classic trappings of fairytale tropes with an extra bit of darkness injected with some satanic imagery. From the naïve youth who believes himself to be a fully grown man at the age of ten, the spoiled brat ditches his destitute mother in hopes of acquiring riches. In his journey he will encounter witches, demons and even a severed head. There is a slight Sam Raimi vibe to all this with how gleefully the gore is depicted and the goofiness of the deranged goat-monsters.

The intro evokes memories of Studio Ghibli anime, all done in a distinctive pixel art style. These short vignettes are really impressive and have a lot of effort put into them, but then they are undermined by the in-game graphics. It is perplexing since the developer is clearly a talented pixel artist, yet Baroque Decay opted for a really amateurish looking style that can be best described as a parody of indie dev pixel art. Characters just barely represent themselves and the Atari-age designs just do not mesh well with this sort of old world European fairytale. It's so distracting since character portraits are on-screen during dialogue scenes, which only makes the character sprites look even less impressive. What is even more perplexing is that this version of The Count Lucanor runs horribly on the Switch compared to the PC version previously reviewed on Cubed3. There are some really nasty frame drops that last quite a while and it becomes almost unplayable at times. This uses such a primitive looking art style that there is no reason why it should be taxing the Switch so harshly. Most likely, the engine is not optimised at all.

Screenshot for The Count Lucanor on Nintendo Switch

While the cut-scene animations are beautiful, the same can't be said for the in-game animations. Since the characters barely resemble their actual designs, Hans ends up looking more like the baby from Eraserhead and his walking animation looks more like he is shuffling his feet. The path finding for enemies and NPCs are also sloppy, with them frequently getting caught on objects making most encounters a bad joke. The Count Lucanor is a sloppy port that deserves better because when the game works as intended it is quite good.

What it does well is give options and real choices. As there are so many ways to beat this, the time to beat it can vary. A smart player will be able to circumvent most of the puzzles even though they may miss out on some key items that will help them get a better ending. Skipping some areas also means missing some notes that contain information that may give Hans a clue for some event later on. It is this kind of role-playing and non-linear gameplay that makes The Count Lucanor an adventure game that is so much more interesting to play. This is built around replay and doing things differently, which means it is going to be a short experience. The thing is, The Count Lucanor is too short. Most people will probably get an ending in about two hours and it is only that long because Hans' walking speed is hilariously slow.

There really needed to be some more meat on this story. The start of it is appropriately slow as it builds and gently introduces stakes and threats. Then before it's realised, the final moments are about to happen. It all happens so fast it feels rushed. This all could have mitigated if there was more to do in the castle other than collect key items. The castle itself is not all that large and has an uninspired layout. Baroque Decay's biggest efforts were very clearly put into the animated cut-scenes and not level design. The Count Lucanor is a humble game made by a very small indie dev and would be considered a very impressive student title or freeware release. It feels like the designer is only just finding its way in game design, even if it is an impressive start.

Screenshot for The Count Lucanor on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The Count Lucanor is as average as it gets. The most impressive aspect is definitely the animated cut-scenes and how many different ways the story can be completed. The problem is that the whole thing is over so quickly - about as long as it takes to tell an actual fairytale. In-game pixel art fails to impress and the amateurish designs and animations undercut the story and themes as depicted in the writing and cut-scenes. Also, Metal Slug 3 is on the Nintendo Switch and runs perfectly, so there is no reason why The Count Lucanor suffers some egregious performance issues.

Developer

Baroque Decay

Publisher

Baroque Decay

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Why the heck can't you run in this game? The kid's slow walking pace is making this difficult to keep playing. I had the same issue with Undertale. Why do devs do this?

Okay, this game is riddled with little issues. Worst one was not being clear how to save the game. Messing around in the menu and I'm back to the title screen and lost progress. You need coins to save, too? Yeah, won't be touching this one again.

( Edited 27.10.2018 01:02 by Azuardo )

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