Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
The Count Lucanor Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . The Count Lucanor is a bold and surprising new adventure game from Baroque Decay. While the retro-inspired visuals are striking and the story is full of wicked twists, the journey is marred by some game-breaking technical problems and a couple questionable design decisions. That's disappointing, but shouldn't keep you from taking a chance on this endearing adventure game. Rating: 78%
The Count Lucanor
The Count Lucanor The Count Lucanor The Count Lucanor The Count Lucanor
  • Review Score:

  • B+
I think it's safe to say that I was caught off guard by The Count Lucanor. With its throwback visuals and simple gameplay, I went into this brand new adventure game confident I knew what to expect. But what began as a seemingly basic story of a boy running away from home quickly turned into a gripping quest full of mysteries and intrigue. I was hooked and couldn't wait to see if Hans could solve the puzzles and meet the Count Lucanor.

And then it completely stopped working. I couldn't even load the game.

I bring this up not dwell on the many technical problems plaguing The Count Lucanor's launch, but rather to point how good the game is. Even with a bug that prevented me from playing the game for nearly a week, I still came out of the experience impressed with what developers Baroque Decay have been able to accomplish. Despite being a horribly busted game that could use another patch or two, there's something about it that I can't help but love.

As I mentioned before, you play Hans, a ten-year-old boy who runs away from home after having a very disappointing birthday party. With only a few coins in his pocket and a block of cheese to munch on, Hans is woefully unprepared for the evil forces in that reside in the nearby forest. After being attacked and led through a mysterious passage, our hero discovers that he has the opportunity to make a better life for himself.

As it turns out, Hans has been given a chance to meet the Count Lucanor, a fabulously wealthy recluse who lives deep inside a hidden castle. We're told that the Count is in failing health and is looking for a child to claim his legacy. But not just any child, it needs to be an especially clever boy who can solve a bunch of puzzles and, more importantly, guess the name of the creepy spirit character that brought to this castle. If he can do all this without losing his mind or dying, Hans will go from rags to riches and be set for life.

Of course, it's not that simple. Each room in the castle is filled with deadly traps and puzzles to solve. There are rooms filled with fire traps, roaming enemies and a lot of box-pushing puzzles. If you can get past the obstacles and find a solution, Hans will come one step closer to spelling out the spirit's name. He'll also find items lying around that can be used to get even deeper into the castle, some of which will uncover hidden passages and unlock more letters.

The Count Lucanor (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

As straight forward as all this sounds, the story is anything but. It can change depending on the choices you make and how you interact with people. What's more, the castle is full of wicked twists and turns. He'll quickly discover that there are ghoulish creatures roaming the halls and the nearby animals are starting to die in gruesome ways. And the closer he gets to the truth, the crazier things become.

The visuals are simple, but striking. The game uses only a few colors and the sprites are purposely modest. In fact, just about the only special effect comes from the candle Hans carries around. Baroque Decay has created a beautiful and haunting world that is equal parts Legend of Zelda and Silent Hill. And if the throwback visuals don't do it for you, surely the stunning cinemas will.

That said, The Count Lucanor suffers from a couple troubling design decisions. I'm not a big fan of the saving mechanic, which forces players to spend a coin to preserve progress. Unfortunately, coins are limited and you'll need to spend a lot of them buying items. This means you will go long stretches without saving out of necessity. That wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that many of enemies will come out of nowhere and kill Hans almost immediately. This often results in the loss of a lot of progress, and I'm not a big fan of the way it punishes you for wanting to save.

The Count Lucanor (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The difficulty spikes are frustrating, but not a deal-breaker. Once you know how to solve a puzzle, it won't take long to speed through and collect all of the letters. This makes each attempt a little faster, and observant explorers will find treasure chests filled with more coins for saving. Still, some of the cheap deaths have a bad habit of blunting the game's momentum.

And then there are the technical issues, which were so bad that it prevented me from even starting the game for most of the week. And things are still a little unstable, even with the most recent patch. It seems the developers are quickly squashing the bugs, but buyers beware for now.

This is the most irritating thing about The Count Lucanor. I love the world the developers have created and the journey Hans takes, but it's all undermined by annoying technical issues. That's disappointing, but shouldn't keep you from taking a chance on this endearing adventure game. It's a fun journey full of memorable characters, some wicked twists and a bunch of clever endings. It just needs another patch or two.
comments powered by Disqus