Well hello there. It’s been awfully quiet hasn’t it? I bet you’re as surprised to see me here as I am. A lot seems to have gone on since I last was on here flogging Kickstarter games to my fanatic chroniclers. Lets have a little recap shall we? Brexit happened which meant I had to be sedated lest my pro-European rage engulf the entire world in a fiery vortex that none would survive; England got knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland giving my handlers the perfect excuse to bring me out of my induced coma so I could lord it over the English, and Pokémon Go has swept the globe, aside from UK since we haven’t (officially) got it yet. Which bring us up to now where I have had the pleasure of playing a game created by fellow blogger extraordinaire (warning: The Chronic Chronicler may be exaggerating his extraordinaire- iness) Dracula’s Cave simply named Lion Quest.
Now before anyone thinks that I am writing this sitting by my private pool, on my private yacht, in my private lake, beside my private home, that is on my own private island, which in itself is in within my own private ocean that I bought with the money paid to do this review in utter privacy, think again.
This game was given to be for free by Dracula’s Cave due to being his very first follower which is probably the only time I’ll be first in anything. This review was completely unasked for and I now imagine Dracula’s Cave is reading instantly regretting in giving me free access to his pride and joy. Well it’s too late now and so onto the obligatory overview and, oh what the hell, show the trailer too!
Describing itself as a “zen platforming game” Lion Quest follows Jethro the Lion on a journey to prevent the imminent destruction of his entire universe and, on a more pressing note, to find his missing friend Ronaldo the Bear. Jethro the Lion must navigate his way through many obstacles and threats in order to save everything he knew, and all jumping as his sole ability. Good luck!
So in that not at all paraphrased (ripped off) overview from Lion Quest’s Steam page we can clearly see that Dracula’s Cave has created yet another indie platformer in a world where I can hardly step outside without indie devs attempting to force their new retro styled games down my throat. So does Lion Quest manage to claw its way to the top or accidentally drop down a pit with instant death spikes at the bottom?
Now I’m not sure if Dracula’s Cave knew this when giving me the game but I am a sucker for retro platformers and Lion Quest does not disappoint in that department. With its tight platforming, surrounded by cubes of death, Lion Quest feels like a mix between Thomas Was Alone and Gunman Clive, borrowing from the former’s minimalistic platforming while taking the frustrating difficulty from the latter, creating for some truly addictive gameplay.
To put this context, I have left some truly awesome games by the wayside, uncompleted and begging for a revisit. Games like Brütal Legend, Lumino City, Never Alone, Ori and the Blind Forest, and even the almighty juggernaut that is Doom. All played but all begging to be ended. Lion Quest on the other hand merely grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, threw me into my chair and went “Play it” in a rather menacing tone. Lion Quest finds that sweet spot of being frustrating and addictively enjoyable, leaving you playing the game until you realise it’s nightfall, all your family and friends have left you, and it’s the year 2064.
The art style is particularly nostalgia inducing too, much to its credit as, while the characters look like something illustrated in MS Paint before being given a pixelated look, it gives it a unique quality that highly rendered and polished characters sometime do not have. The backgrounds are also soothing to look at, with changing colours that reminded me of the co-op game ibb and obb to the extent that I thought for a while that it had been ripped straight from that game. While that is probably untrue, the game’s art is a mishmash of serene and secondary school art project, a phrase I wouldn’t have thought possible to use seriously until now, especially in a positive manner.
There’s also a ton of replay-ability with this game as, although I completed the main story in around six hours, there are a plethora of extras that come with the game. A versus mode which pitches you and one, two or even three friends in battle or co-op to defeat stages or each other (although you may want to invest in some controllers to get all four of you playing); an arcade mode where you beat various stages under a time limit, as well as completing the game with the various characters you can unlock and plethora or secrets you can unearth and gain achievements for. It reminds me of the days of old where everything was shoved in one game and you need to pay for nothing extra, and I like that!
Not only this but Lion Quest also managed to sneak in a fun mechanic called zen. This allows you to stop and start falling objects to create paths to different areas. Whether it be creating a bridge, preventing death from cubes and windmills, this helps elevate the game from being your standard platformer.
However, with every first foray into the world of gaming, there are bound to be some slight blunders. As much as I love the 3D effects of blocks falling down around me, the triangles one can collect that make everything 3D was a little much. While my brother played it without a problem, every time I looked at the screen my eyes were starting to get slightly irritated and I’d have to look away for a moment to refocus. Perhaps I’m the weird one here and no-one else has this problem, but I ended up starting to avoid them when I could to keep the 2D look, just for the sake of my eyes.
In addition is the checkpoint system which, for the most part, allows for a quick way to get back into the fray after your untimely demise yet occasionally this went against you. At some points you control two characters at the same time in order to get the newly introduced character to hit a switch in order to progress. However, on one or two occasions, I would drop down too far and leave my partner behind so I would be unable to progress. No problem you would think, just die and start again. My thoughts exactly, but with so many checkpoints, I could not go far back enough to retrieve my partner, thus leading me to restart the entire level.
Finally, although probably least problematic, is thatthe story has no real weight to it. It’s all given in the tutorial but until the completion of the eight stage I had completely forgotten my original motivation with fun platforming completely eviscerating it from my mind. Perhaps more story cues could have been used but in the end you’re really here for the gameplay, not the story which really doesn’t come into it that much.
Yet aside from that, and one glitch which actually helped me, Lion Quest is definitely worth your time. With fun levels, a hub world where you have to explore and find take whatever level you want in whatever order you want, as well as enslaving game play, irreverent humour (props for the Jeffersoning), and a ton of replay-ability, this game is definitely worth it’s £8.99 price tag on Steam (although ten per cent off at the moment, hint hint). Congrats Dracula’s Cave! Now go and make more games to satisfy my need for platforming!