Review – Super Lucky’s Tale
The timing of Super Lucky’s Tale’s release isn’t great.
Coming to Xbox One a week after Super Mario Odyssey released for Switch means comparisons are bound to be drawn.
Unfortunately for Super Lucky’s Tale, it comes off second-best each and every time.
There’s nothing overtly wrong with Super Lucky’s Tale. It’s actually an enjoyable game, but it’s vanilla as vanilla can be.
Everything about it says ‘been there, done that.”
While there are some stand-out moments during the 10+ hour duration, there’s nothing that makes Super Lucky’s Tale anything more than average.
That being said, Xbox One players aren’t spoilt for choice when it comes to platform games.
Especially if they don’t own another console.
Super Lucky’s Tale fills a niche that’s otherwise vacant on Xbox One, but it can’t compete with the superstars of the genre.
We’re up all night ’til the sun
Super Lucky’s Tale stars the titular Lucky. And he’s pretty darn adorable. An anthropomorphic fox, Lucky is expressive, vocal and exceptionally cute. He can double-jump, burrow underground and swipe with his tail. And that’s all he can do
For the entire game.
Not every platformer needs to introduce new moves or abilities. Super Lucky’s Tale feels as though it sorely needs it though. The platforming alone isn’t good enough to carry the game. It’s average. It gets the job done, but not much else.
I kept wishing that there were more to do while I was playing. The world Lucky inhabits is bright and colourful. It’s definitely interesting enough to warrant more exploration, but it never comes. Instead, the four hub worlds contain a handful of levels each. These levels all contain four Four-Leafed Clovers to collect, of which there are 99 in total.
We’re up all night to get some
This pales in comparison to the hundreds upon hundreds of Power Moons in Super Mario Odyssey. Collecting the Clovers is also far less interesting or rewarding. The Clovers in each level are earned in the exact same way. For every single level.
One is earned by simply completing the level, another by collecting the five separate letters that make up the work ‘LUCKY.’ The remaining two are earned by collecting 300 coins and by finding a secret. The secret Clovers are the most unique, although they’re largely earned via very similar coin-collecting mini-games.
It feels a bit like I’m being overly critical of Super Lucky’s Tale, but it’s hard to sing its praises. It is quite fun, but it’s never anything more than ‘just ok.’ Which is sad, because it has all the makings of a special platformer. It’s at its best when you’re forced into a 2D perspective without any control of the camera.
The 2D levels are easily the standout, but they’re also few and far between. For some odd reason, the developer has opted for a weird 2.5D perspective in 3D space. You can only view the action from one of three angles.; front-on, 45 degrees to the left or 45 degrees to the right.
In levels where you need to move in full three-dimensional space, the camera restrictions cause all sorts of problems. Judging depth, spacing and distance can be incredibly difficult in Super Lucky’s Tale. This led to many silly deaths on my behalf and quite a bit of swearing. Misjudging a jump and landing in lava all because the camera is stuck in one of three positions doesn’t make for a good time.
We’re up all night to get lucky
Like the fully 2D levels, the minute number of on-rails, burrowing levels are a highlight. These auto-scrolling levels are locked at the 45 degrees left position and Lucky will have to use his burrowing ability to avoid spikes, fire, pits and traps. These levels were a breath of fresh air and I really wished there were more of them and less of the standard 3D levels.
In addition to the platforming levels, there are some puzzle mini-games throughout. They come in two flavours. Sliding blocks and tilting ball mazes. The sliding blocks require you to move statues of Lucky into the right place. The tilting balls mazes see Lucky shrunk down and inside a marble.
Moving the analogue stick tilts the maze and you’ll need to collect every coin without dying to complete the puzzle. Both of these puzzles are welcome distractions, but neither offers much more than a few minutes of difference. Oddly, the difficulty of these puzzles ramps up quite significantly towards the end of the game.
In fact, Super Lucky’s Tale starts off as an incredibly simple game, but by the end, it becomes very, very tough.
I found it odd that it became so hard because I thought it was a game aimed at kids. The simplistic, flat textures. Bright colours and simply platforming all seemed to indicate a young audience. But honestly, I can’t see many younger gamers — pre-teens — being able to get through some of the tougher levels. I get the feeling that Super Lucky’s Tale went through a number of iterations and the final one was never really decided upon.
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
Rather it’s a mish-mash of a whole bunch of disparate ideas that might work well on paper, but not in practice. Super Lucky’s Tale feels unfinished and unpolished. There aren’t game-breaking bugs or glitches (though there are some minor ones) it’s just that I get a sense that this game isn’t the one Playful intended to release.
Amongst the like of Super Mario Odyssey, Yooka-Laylee, Sonic Mania, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and even Cuphead, Super Lucky’s Tale trails far behind. If you only own an Xbox One and are desperate for some platforming, then you’ll have a decent time with Super Lucky’s Tale.
If you do play, prepare for a wholly vanilla experience. Nothing really special and nothing really wrong. It gets the job done, but it’s not really going to satisfy.
Super Lucky’s Tale was reviewed on Xbox One using a digital copy provided to PowerUp! by Microsoft.
Game title: Super Lucky's Tale
Game description: Super Lucky's Tale is an indie 3D platformer video game developed by Playful Corp. and published by Microsoft Studios for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.
Great if you only own an Xbox One - 7/10
Not so great if you own other platforms - 5/10
2.5D but not... - 4.5/10