Title: King Lucas
Publisher: Hidden Trap
Genre: Platformer, Metroidvania, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 21/02/2020
Price: £4.49 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
It’s a classic tale – a princess is trapped in a castle, and a brave knight must save her. But what if you returned the princess to the King, only to be told there’s another that needs rescuing? And the castle’s rooms have multiplied, as well as rearranged? This is the task King Lucas gives you, over and over again.
Your princess is definitely in this castle.
After customising your appearance and giving yourself a nickname, you begin the game speaking to King Lucas. After an incident, that he likes to skim over, with the Witch of Sausan (you can figure that out for yourselves), the Queen has left him. His daughters remain by his side and often get lost inside his magical castle. It’s your task as the knight to save them, as they become trapped numerous times, and you must even rescue a dog at one point.
However, each time you return victorious only for the King to send you back in, you re-enter the castle to find an entirely new layout, which increases in size each time. This can be seen using the map, where you will see that there is a grid. Rooms you can explore are black, and your location will be marked with a little circle. I was overwhelmed at first seeing how many rooms the levels could grow to, as there are over 1,000 to unlock!
How you find the princess is up to you. A constant in this game is slashing your way through enemies like spiders and sorcerers, jumping across platforms to avoid hazards such as lava and spikes. Controls that gamers are accustomed to, along with the bumpers to open the map and your inventory. But you can make the game as easy or as difficult as you like. Across the castle are blacksmiths selling weapons, which you can buy with coins found by smashing barrels or killing enemies.
Your weapons are breakable, so take a close look at the weapons stats for durability in particular. Witches sell health potions and keys, though these can be found throughout the castle too. The keys are handy to unlock doors which give you shortcuts, and the princesses will be locked behind multiple, so it’s handy to keep some on you at all times. The witches also have a crystal ball on offer, which tells you how many rooms lie between you and the princess, as well as a compass that shows which direction she is in. Both of these have time limits, so they’re not as OP as they sound.
I love this freedom and the ability to play how you want, not restricted to a single difficulty. The task of finding a person in a room out of hundreds isn’t easy, though of course, you can stumble upon them accidentally. Having the option to buy things if you need a helping hand is great, as they’re there for you but you’re not obligated to buy them either.
Dingy dungeon halls
I thought the visuals were surprisingly clean for a small game, with detailed clothes on the characters and great lighting. There are also some nice boss designs to join the enemies, if not a tad overused in gaming, like a floating eyeball. The boss levels are like any you’d expect in a platformer, the doors locking so you can’t get out, leaving you to take chunks out of the boss’ health to kill it or die trying. If you die, you go back to your last checkpoint, which is found in some of the rooms inside barrels. The boss levels aren’t overly difficult, but you may be caught off guard if you go into the room with low health or weak weapons.
The rooms are well designed too, Bowser’s Castle style, creating the feeling of escaping from dingy rooms, classic platformer hazards and trickily placed enemies. This is complete with underwater sections too, where you’re not safe from enemies even there. The rooms are fairly similar, so it can be a bit repetitive, but there’s enough variation that it doesn’t feel too much. The colour palette will change slightly in each room, for example having purple bricks as platforms before switching to sandy bricks, incorporating moving platforms and bridges too.
There were some pop culture references and bits of humour in the dialogue of characters you interact with. However, I did find the wording odd sometimes and there were some typos, drawing me out of the game. This is perhaps because DevilishGames is a Spanish studio, so things could have got lost in translation.
The sweet sounds of slashing
Your little knight shouts with exertion like a tennis player whenever you swing your sword at an enemy, and you can hear it swish through the air or clang when you hit a solid wall. Splashing into water, your boots slapping the stone floor, the audio does a great job of immersing you in the echos of the castle. The music ranges from mysterious to triumphant, though I did feel there could have been a better rotation as the same song could be playing for a while.
As the game is quite long, I feel like there’s not much bringing you back to replay it once you’ve completed it, as it’s entirely based around replaying in a way. Maybe you’d want to make it harder on yourself by not buying anything, or test yourself to go into every room in one level. There are some challenges that characters in the castle give you for money, like killing 20 bats, so you could do those.
But for £4.49, you are getting a surprising amount out of King Lucas. Sure, you could make it quicker by buying a tonne of crystal balls and compasses, but that would take too much of the fun out of it. I was pleasantly surprised by the unique twist on the classic platformer genre, and fans of Metroidvania can get a great example of one for under a fiver.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can buy King Lucas for the Nintendo Switch at the following link: eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.