Lucky’s Tale Rift

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper Playful Corp Pub­lisher Ocu­lus Stu­dios For­mat Rift Re­lease Out now

What’s in a name? Not much, re­ally: Lucky’s

Tale is a 3D plat­former star­ring a fox called Lucky who hits things with his tail. It’s hardly the most imag­i­na­tive con­ceit, or the most mod­ern, though as with many Rift launch games it’s lent a spe­cial air by the tech­nol­ogy that pow­ers it. It may be a game idea bor­rowed from ’95, run­ning on hard­ware with ori­gins in the late ’80s, but as a mov­ing plat­form takes you through a tun­nel in which you in­stinc­tively duck out of the way of tan­gles of vines, be­fore you pop out above in a colour­ful vil­lage whose denizens, ob­sta­cles and traps stretch off to­wards the hori­zon, the sensation is thor­oughly 2016.

Still, at its core, Lucky’s Tale is ev­ery inch the launch game you’d ex­pect from a pub­lisher whose CEO, Ja­son Rubin, co-cre­ated Crash Bandi­coot. En­e­mies – in­clud­ing bats that lob bombs, and bees that fire pro­jec­tiles – are dis­patched with a tail swipe or by jump­ing on them. Haz­ards play with the 3D aes­thetic: spike-cov­ered logs swing­ing back and forth on vines, cuboid plat­forms that ro­tate ev­ery few sec­onds. The level de­sign it­self has been built with up-close 3D in mind, gen­er­ally push­ing you into the screen with side­ways de­tours forc­ing you to keep an eye on your shadow when po­si­tion­ing jumps.

At its best, it’s the sort of game Nin­tendo would’ve made had child-safety con­cerns not com­pelled it to make 3DS’s stereo­scopic view op­tional, rather than manda­tory. De­vel­oper Playful Corp lives up to its name, us­ing the au­to­matic cam­era to po­si­tion col­lectibles al­most but not quite out of sight be­hind level fur­ni­ture. In later lev­els, switches that you flick with a tail swipe cause walls to twirl 180 de­grees, and re­veal pre­vi­ously un­seen paths. Rift’s in-built stereo head­phones mean the stu­dio can use au­dio as a me­chanic too, alert­ing you to the nearby pres­ence of an es­sen­tial item with a faint sound ef­fect that loudens as you draw closer to it.

De­spite the fact you’re guid­ing Lucky through a 360-de­gree space, you have no con­trol over the cam­era, and it’s this that means Lucky’s Tale has been given the Mod­er­ate com­fort rat­ing by Ocu­lus. The cam­era moves slowly to dampen the in­her­ent dis­com­fort in your lack of con­trol of it, but it’s of­ten too slow, par­tic­u­larly af­ter Lucky rises or falls at higher-than-usual speed. We’ve walked straight off un­seen ledges while the cam­era was still fol­low­ing us up a hill, and fallen out of sight af­ter a long drop to a far­away plat­form. And back­track­ing is un­work­able, the cam­era mov­ing so slowly that Lucky of­ten seems to be walk­ing into your frontal cor­tex and straight out the back of your head. De­spite its name’s im­pli­ca­tions, this is a bet­ter game when you’re fol­low­ing Lucky’s nose, rather than his tail.

Coins are every­where: strewn about the level to sig­nal the crit­i­cal path, shim­mer­ing on far-off plat­forms, or in­vis­i­ble un­til you draw near. They’re safely ig­nored: a hundred earn you a 1-Up, but lives are never an is­sue

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