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.
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 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 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.