The Count Lucanor Review – Horror in 16-bits

the count lucanor

Choices, Choices, Choices

The Count Lucanor is a modern throwback to pixelated mystery games, promising to provide both enough challenges and critical thinking with a spooky storyline.

The Count Lucanor has a nice presentation. The pixelated graphics look absolutely gorgeous, especially in docked mode where the upscaled resolution really does the game justice.

The story itself is pretty cheesy: you play as a young boy that just turned ten and feels as if he’s now an adult, therefore deserving to go on a grand adventure in search of treasure. The game compensates for this by allowing you to make meaningful choices throughout your journey through the countryside and within a terrifying castle.

the count lucanor

When you first leave your house, you gain a couple of items that your mother deems “very useful” towards your journey. As you make your way to a terrifying castle, people will nearly beg for your items and depending on these choices you make, the way the story and scenarios unfold will be entirely different. This gives you a degree of freedom as you solve puzzles in this Zelda and Silent Hill-inspired adventure.

A Very Unsteady Experience

I played through some of Merge Games’s previous Nintendo Switch release, Unbox, but I was not very impressed at all by its performance. The game stuttered and could barely hold its own, despite running on the Unreal 4 engine. The Count Lucanor has its own set of problems, too.

As I mentioned before, the game’s pixelated graphics look absolutely gorgeous, yet at the end of the day they are just pixelated graphics. The Nintendo Switch is more than capable of handling these visuals — just look at games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and DOOM. That wasn’t the case for The Count Lucanor, unfortunately.

the count lucanor

The game ran beautifully in docked mode, it didn’t stutter at all and seems to be the way the developers wanted people to play. Unfortunately, once in handheld mode, the situation is quite different: there’s constant stuttering that managed to make my Nintendo Switch run dangerously warm. I restarted my unit yet I still had the same problems, which proved to me that this title was just simply poorly optimized for handheld mode.

How does the Performance Impact the Experience?

I would consider only playing this title in docked mode if you suffer from the same poor experience that I did while in handheld mode. It’s not heartbreaking that this title couldn’t run properly in handheld mode, but that can be a dealbreaker for a lot of people. The game itself requires a lot of critical thinking and the poor performance in handheld mode can distract you from that.

Ready for Halloween

To stray away from the lacking performance, this game deserves the recognition for having an incredible soundtrack. It manages to capture both the spookiness and mystery that this title seeks to achieve. The soundtrack is so good that the atmosphere it sets can almost overcome the performance issues in handheld mode.

the count lucanor

The soundtrack alone being a great reason to play this game during Halloween as it truly is one of the spookiest retro-themed soundtracks I’ve ever heard from a game.

This is one of the titles that should be on the soon-to-come eShop Halloween sale. If you’ve been looking for a throwback game and don’t mind a challenge, this may be what you’re looking for. However, if you can’t handle cheesy stories — involving poor dialogue — and the almost forceful docked gameplay, The Count Lucanor should be the last game in your to buy list.

System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Disclaimer: A review code for The Count Lucanator was provided by Merge Games.

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  TinWhiskers 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #563 Reply

    Choices, Choices, Choices The Count Lucanor is a modern throwback to pixelated mystery games, promising to provide both enough challenges and critical
    [See the full post at: The Count Lucanor Review – Horror in 16-bits]

  • #569 Reply


    Gonna have to pick this one up!

  • #590 Reply


    can’t say I care for the art style

  • #599 Reply


    I downloaded this Friday and spent most of my weekend on and off playing this game.

    It’s very fun!

    Oddly, not once did I use docked mode. My Switch (a recent Splatoon2 edition) running FW 4.0 ran just fine, wasn’t warm at all. The only time I noticed something odd was when my battery got to >15% and the graphics seemed to blur.

    The title performs well on the system, outside of the music sometimes seeming to not know when it play, almost as if the virtual composer in charge is missing his ques occasionally. The various moans, bleats, and disturbing cries in the audio are clear and work well to sell the atmosphere of the castle.

    The sudden change-over from ‘everything’s great!’ to ‘everything’s gone to hell!’ early in the game reminded me of the NES Game Monster Party.

    There are no FAQs out there for this game that I have found, so I was really on my own to ponder the various choices. Interestingly, the game gives you multiple methods to handle a problem on a few occasions, not just the beginning. I’m still curious what happens if I don’t help anyone in beginning and hold onto all my items.

    I reached “an” ending last night that was… satisfactory, but I obviously missed some thing as several story threads were dropped when I made my choice. Thankfully, I’m able to return to the last save and try a few different things to see what happens.

    I’d go so far as calling this a ‘hidden gem’ of the early Switch library. The price is right, the game is unique, and it’s Halloween time! Give it a shot.

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