PSA: You Should Probably Play The Count Lucanor

A chum’s been playing dark fairytale adventure/RPG The Count Lucanor and urged me to take a look at it, worried that it wasn’t being talked about anywhere. I had to be held down forcibly in my chair while feverishly struggling to escape from the chiptune Bach soundtrack, but that aside I agree that there’s something a little bit special here.

If you fell for Undertale and have been wondering where to go next, this agreeably unpredictable meld of cute’n’sinister might just the answer.

Like I say, I very nearly ran screaming from the introduction, but thank God I stuck through it – I’m only a short way in but Lucanor has been full of surprises. From a 10-year-old protagonist who’s a total brat rather than a wide-eyed moppet, to fetch quests which dole out of punishments rather than rewards and a genuinely spooky out-of-nowhere nightmare sequence, Lucanor has resolutely refused to be what I expected it to be.

Even in tone and pacing, it’s a mix of European and Japanese RPG sensibilities that’s hard to pin down – and like the best fairy tales, it feels familiar yet disconcertingly unfamiliar all at the same time. There’s a strong streak of almost nightmarish menace to it, gleefully at odds with the overtly cute, faux-retro appearance.

The dev claims both Zelda and Silent Hill are influences, and I can very much see why, but again it feels definably Western in some respects. It’s a fascinating, unusual mix of styles with some genuinely sinister moments. Its world seems to be impressively large and elaborate so far, too.

I haven’t finished it, I should note. It might go horribly wrong yet. But instinct so far is that, yes, more people should be playing The Count Lucanor – especially in these post-Undertale times. No bullet hell minigames though, fear not.

I’ll aim to return to this with a full review as soon as I can. If you want to take a punt in the meantime it’s £6.99 / $9.99 here.

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21 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Is there any bullet hell nonsense?

    • Fomorian1988 says:

      “No bullet hell minigames though, fear not.”

      It’s like, right there.

      • Psychomorph says:

        Yes, but gritz specifically asked for “bullet hell nonsense”.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        In my defense, I’m pretty sure Alec added that when he revised the article to fix the broken images and links.

  2. Shazbut says:

    This is my type of thing always. Thanks!

  3. Don Reba says:

    If you fell for Undertale…

    I decided to wait for an HD remake.

    • Iainn says:

      I love how absurd and how true this is at the same time. The tools are there for any game to look glorious, but given the current art style of 8-bit/16-bit sprites, we abandon it to make it “retro”. To ask for an HD remake is deliciously tongue-in-cheek. Bravo!

  4. Monggerel says:

    Luca, no

  5. Butts says:

    It’s a shame about the strict rationing on pixels. Clearly weren’t enough to go around when they were making their sprites. A harsh game development cycle spent under a near-total picture element embargo, no doubt. Weep for what might have been.

    • swigg says:

      Personally I prefer pixel graphics to vector graphics in 2D games. Pixels are as modern as they are old.

  6. anHorse says:

    Ooh does this mean I can be one of the first to hate it without even playing it?

    yay

  7. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    It’s funny you mention Undertale because my first thought when seeing that header image was “Hey, they have the same haircut as Undertale boy/girl.”

  8. RickyButler says:

    Yes! This game needs more coverage. I’m surprised it went under everyone’s radar on release. Its presentation is excellent. The nightmare sequence at the tail of the intro is absolutely terrifying.

    The writing and the world’s logic are so totally Grimm’s fairy tale, which is great–the original ones, too, not the toned-down poopers. Lucanor and the latest Momodora were two of the best back-to-back indie releases this year.

    I’ve had some unfortunate technical problems with it, however, that caused the splash-loading screen to hang open for upwards of 5 minutes to infinity when trying to open it, however.

  9. Aviron says:

    Wow, those sprites look like hot garbage. Next time maybe skip the anime cutscenes altogether and put some more effort in the visuals for your atmospheric horror game, lads.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Are you saying they need to dial up the maturity?

      • Aviron says:

        No, I’m saying they need to have a sprite on the main character that doesn’t look like it has been ripped from Realm of the Mad God.

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Because Realm of the Mad God called dibs?

          • Aviron says:

            No, but this looks just as lazy: low-res sprites with wooden animations. And this has even less of an excuse because it’s marketing itself as a game with horror elements, a genre that has always required either good visuals or an excellent artistic direction to work without them: compare this game to Clock Tower on the SNES, for example. Even Undertale, which has some awful overworld sprites, still managed to pull off some good visuals when it wanted to be unnerving.

          • Waltorious says:

            Actually, Realm of the Mad God was originally made for the two-part Assemblee competition hosted by TIGSource. Part one involved making tons of assets, part two involved making games from those assets. Realm of the Mad God used the Lo-Fi Fantasy Tileset by Oryx, which was the winner of Part One. I believe it is free for anyone to use also. Check it:

            link to tigsource.com

            DROPPIN’ TRUTH

    • 0positivo says:

      Subjectivity. It’s a wonderful thing

  10. April March says:

    Looks very interesting; reminds me of Stray Cat Crossing, with a more overtly blaaaaaaargh vibe.