Reviewed on Xbox One X, also available on Xbox One and PC – Play Anywhere Title
Released Nov 7th 2017
Coming hot on the heels of the recent Xbox One X release is Playful Corp’s 3D platformer follow up to their 2016 VR title, Lucky’s Tale. An Xbox One console exclusive revolving around our young protagonist, Lucky the Fox.
Our Adventure begins with Lucky’s sister, Lyra talking about her most recent adventure as a guardian and how she had finally found the Book of Ages, a magical book that can open strange new worlds and even re-write history. All hell breaks loose when Jinx (our main antagonist) and his children (The Kitty Litter) turn up to steal the Book of Ages. Suddenly, after a short squabble the book activates and pulls Lucky, Jinx and the Kitty Litter into the pages, thus setting the scene and starting the adventure of our plucky young fox.
What follows is the adventure of Lucky as he traverses the pages of the Book of Ages. Each page providing a different hub world, encompassing a set of levels that gradually unlock after collecting a pre-set number of clovers.
A lot of comparisons are always going to be made against a certain red plumber, especially as the 2 titles were released so close together. They also share many gameplay tropes that have become standard to a 3D platformer. Such as hub worlds, item collection that furthers progression and end of world boss fights.
However, though they share similar design principles the delivery of the 2 titles is completely different. Lucky employs an almost 2.5D delivery to its world design as opposed to the full 3D worlds seen in Nintendo’s IP. If you have ever played Skylanders by Vicarious Visions you will get an idea on how the world is delivered to the player. An isometric camera serves its purpose to afford a little freedom to the player in the 3D sections but for the most part it remains fixed above the player. I’ve seen a few other reviews not be happy with this but I never found it a problem. Platforming is still extremely easy and the way in which the worlds are constructed means the camera delivery is the only logical choice. My only negative about the camera design is it does force a certain amount on linearity to the levels and doesn’t reward the player for explorative gameplay.
Lucky himself benefits from a variety of moves, all of which will be familiar to platforming veterans. As well as the usual 3D movement there is a double jump, a staple of the modern platformer. A sweeping attack of his tail, used for combating enemies and a ‘burrow’ move, which sees our hero go underground to collect items and avoid environmental hazards. Lucky controls well and is responsive to the player, helped by the deployment of 60fps gameplay.
As mentioned previously, gameplay revolves around the collections of ‘Clovers’ within each hub world. Each world offers a mix of different level designs to the player that are either accessed through gateways or ‘foxholes’ before finally opening up a ‘Boss Fight’ once a certain pre-requisite of clovers is met. In total there are 99 Clovers for the player to collect, which depending on ability, will take anywhere between 6-8 hours to fully collect and result in a full 1000 Gamerscore. Making it ideal for achievement hunters but not necessarily for gamers wanting an expansive platformer with end game content.
Levels that are accessed through a gateway offer the player a chance to collect up to 4 clovers (handily displayed in front of the gateway) and make up the bulk of the games content. These levels all follow a similar structure to clover collection. One for completing the level, one for collecting 300 coins, one for spelling LUCKY and finally one secret clover that varies in its criteria from level to level. These levels can either be 3D or 2D with the split being roughly 75/25 in the favour of 3D.
Levels that are accessed through foxholes are used to break up the monotony and usually involve the collection of 1 clover on completion. There are Puzzle levels, which involve a short sliding puzzle of moving Lucky statues into a designated place. Marble Run levels which sees Lucky trapped inside a marble and tasked with coin collection while avoiding environmental hazards. And finally Burrow Run, a perpetual running level tasking the player with avoiding obstacles at speed while collecting coins. On the whole these levels make a nice change of pace, I personally enjoyed the Burrow Run sections due to them having an increased difficulty over the games relatively easy curve.
One area where Lucky really does shine is the graphics. I was fortunate to play the title on the Xbox One X in 4K resolution and it really was a delightful sight. Playful Corp have done a fantastic job of bringing Lucky’s world to life. From the bright, bold graphics to the small flourishes such as the many little animals that populate the levels. There really is a lot of detail crammed into the presentation. Animation of the characters is also top drawer, from the leading cast of Lucky and Co to the enemies and NPC’s. All of which is delivered in a fairly stable 60fps. There are a couple of instances of dropped frames but thankfully these are very few and far between meaning you really do get a top tier presentation.
Any good 3D platformer needs to have a great soundtrack to back it up. Lucky doesn’t disappoint in this regard, music is delightfully melodic with each world having a distinct sound to suit its theme. Sound effects are sharp and punchy and delivered well and characters vocals are super cute, especially the ghosts in Spookington. Overall sound is another of Lucky’s strong points but I do have a slight criticism. At present there seems to be a bug that sometimes cuts the audio when taking extensive in-game screen shots. The only way to rectify it as present was to completely re-boot the game. Now most people probably wont experience this as they aren’t writing a review, but it was annoying none the less. Hopefully the developer can patch the problem.
What players will find is a charming, beautiful world that serves its purpose through the 6-8 hours it takes to fully complete. At it’s budget price point it is certainly recommended for any players looking for a change of pace and an easy 1000g. Lucky is a competent platformer and a great first attempt on the Xbox console by Playful Corp. They have certainly set the groundwork for what could become a really well received franchise. The only things holding it back, in my opinion, is the lack of end game content and also the remarkable easy difficulty curve. It would have been nice to have some challenge activities in the later sections or even as end game content.
Overall, I would have no problem recommending Lucky. I found my brief time with it memorable and enjoyable. If you can see past a couple of technical shortcomings then you will find a pleasant platformer and a very likeable protagonist.