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Lucky's Tale

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Playful Corp.
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2021

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PC VR Review - 'Lucky's Tale'

by Andreas Salmen on Dec. 8, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Lucky's Tale is a third-person platforming adventure game.

VR platformer Lucky's Tale was one of the first VR experiences for many players. It was one of the first Oculus-exclusive games and an early showcase title for the company. It was even bundled with Rift headsets in 2016. Lucky's Tale showed that platformers could work well in VR, and the player doesn't need to take center stage to be immersed in the experience. That was over five years ago, and since then, there have been more VR titles, like Astro Bot Rescue Mission on the PlayStation 4, which arguably perfected the VR platforming formula. Despite that, Lucky's Tale is a good fit for the Oculus Quest 2, so it's a mystery why we have not seen a port for the stand-alone headset much sooner. On Nov. 18, Lucky's Tale was officially released on the Quest 2, and while it hasn't aged perfectly, there is still a lot to love about the fox and his VR adventures.

In many regards, Lucky's Tale is a conventional platformer. At the beginning of the tale, Lucky's friend, Pig (a piggy bank, obviously), is kidnapped from their shared home, leaving behind a trail of coins. Lucky follows the coin trail and makes his way through a variety of platforming stages to rescue his friend from the alien creature that took him.

There's not much else to experience in terms of story, but that is quickly forgiven. What Lucky's Tale lacks in cohesive storytelling, it makes up for by simply being a colorful and fun platformer for all ages. Lucky is an adorable little fox, and while there isn't much narrative depth, it's one of the most joyful games I have played in a long while. From the little fox's enthusiastic hand gestures to watching him dangling at the edge of a platform, he is fun to control and wholesome to watch, and that's the essence of the experience.

When playing Lucky's Tale, players control Lucky from a third-person perspective, essentially floating behind the little canine as we control him through arrays of obstacles and enemies. As such, it's a great entry title if you haven't played a lot of VR, since you don't move quickly as you follow Lucky and control his movements. You can come to a complete stop at any moment. There were a few instances when the camera movement was a bit erratic, which could cause motion sickness for newcomers.

Lucky's Tale is a good VR showcase that doesn't overwhelm the player, but seasoned VR veterans will still find enjoyment with it. Each stage takes players through a slightly different environment, from the deepest jungle to the bottom of the sea. Lucky collects coins and gems while neutralizing enemies by swiping them with his tail or stomping them. Every stage includes a hidden trophy to collect and underground passages to find hidden extra points and goodies. It's great at conveying scale in VR, with some decent verticality within stages and underground passages that look adorably tiny from a towering VR perspective. It's an easy showcase title to introduce VR to new players, and it's also a competent platformer, even though it's not wholly original.

If there's one downside to the colorful platforming, it's that it can sometimes feel generic. Its cutesy art style, limited number of enemy types, easy and brief platforming stages, and environments tick the usual boxes and are executed well, but the features rarely feel remarkable besides being playable in VR.

On the other hand, Astro Bot excelled at creating interesting and unique levels where VR immersed the player by hiding Easter eggs, collectibles, and the path forward behind obstacles. This required players to shift their heads, look around corners, and observe the environments closely. Lucky's Tale has some moments that evoke the same magic, but it usually fails to utilize VR beyond the physical presence by offering little interactivity or reason for it to be in VR. It's not a bad VR game, but it's a port of a five-year-old title, not a new release.

From a technical standpoint, Lucky's Tale on the Quest 2 is a remarkable port on all fronts. Judging by the videos I've seen of the original Rift release, the Quest 2 version looks on par and possibly even a tad better, which is quite an achievement for a stand-alone headset. Picture quality and resolution are sharp and detailed, and the game features some evident improvements in character models and overall lighting. It comes together incredibly well, looks charming from start to finish. and I've yet to experience any performance issues. It controls well most of the time, although I find the platforming sections to be a touch imprecise, with too much airtime when jumping. It's very forgiving, so even if you jump beyond a platform, you'll recover quickly. Checkpoints and a life system akin to classic Mario games (except you'll rarely run out of them) resets you to your last position.

The game is hurt a bit by the included content. At a price point of $20 (the original PCVR version is currently sold at $15) and no cross-buy support, the game is pricey for the content. It also isn't challenging, so experienced gamers will likely breeze through the experience in about two hours, depending on the amount of exploration, and additional game modes can potentially double that playtime. Each stage can be replayed, with each run culminating in a high score based on your points.

There's not much incentive to hunt for higher scores, since the game only saves the highest score ever achieved for each stage, and there is no way to compete online or locally on leaderboards. There is some replayability in the two additional game modes. One is Find Red Coins, which is exactly what it says, and a Time Trial mode challenges players to finish a stage as quickly as possible with Bronze, Silver, and Gold ranks to beat. Alas, this mode doesn't have a global or local leaderboard, either.

Lucky's Tale hasn't aged perfectly since its 2016 release, but that's its only offense. It was — and still is — an excellent introductory VR title that offers a relaxed environment to get accustomed to VR within a family-friendly format that oozes charm. It's a great title for all age brackets and gaming abilities, but some may be put off by its short length, dated game design, and simple VR integration. Lucky's Tale may feel generic, but the enjoyable, colorful VR title delivers short bursts of happiness.

Score: 7.0/10

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