Playful Corp’s Lucky’s Tale has been a heated topic of discussion since it’s unveiling back at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles. Back then, it was assumed that third-person experiences wouldn’t work in virtual reality (VR). Much has of course changed since that point, and while Lucky’s Tale has convinced the camera detractors, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a good videogame behind the mechanics.
Lucky’s Tale tells the story of a young fox and his living piggy bank companion, simply known as Pig. The two are the best of friends, but one day some large-eyed purple tentacle beast decides to snack on the porky companion. Luckily, pig leaves a trail of coins for Lucky to follow as he embarks upon his quest to save his friend. It should go without saying at this point that Lucky’s Tale is absolutely adorable.
As a 3D platform videogame designed to appeal to a wide audience, it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that near-every mechanic in Lucky’s Tale has been inspired by one Super Mario title or another. The titular fox’s moveset and control system is clearly borrowed from Super Mario 64, while the coloured coin hunt is reminiscent of Super Mario World‘s red coins and the climbable walls directly tied to Super Mario 3D World‘s catsuit. Subterranean asides, coin-collecting 1-Ups, invisible coins and high-scoring level exits based on height attained; the list is almost endless.
Is this an issue? Well, no. If you’re going to create a videogame that adheres strictly to established genre formulae, why not follow the example of the most celebrated examples? It’s familiar and comfortable: two things that are especially important when delivering this gameplay to a new medium such as VR.
Lucky’s Tale gifts the player the position of the camera, tasking them with looking up and down and around Lucky’s path to find the many secrets hidden within each level. The way forward is always obvious, but alternative routes and distractions less so. This may be considered ‘playing it safe’, but in VRFocus‘ opinion it’s a judgement call made to aid the accessibility of those new to VR. This, along with the family-friendly aesthetic, is almost certainly why Oculus VR decided to work with Playful Corp. to have Lucky’s Tale offered as the first pack-in title for the Oculus Rift.
Lucky’s Tale is a relatively short videogame, weighing-in at around 3-4 hours for the first playthrough. However, there are numerous hidden secrets that add up and gift the player special rewards upon discovery. Lucky’s Tale is a compelling enough experience to have you return to previous levels and discover these secrets, despite the ease with which experienced platform players will likely get through the first play.
Lucky’s Tale is a wonderful starting point for platform videogames in VR. It’s been touted as laying the groundwork for VR videogame design since reveal, and along with that third-person camera the whole experience itself is, thankfully, of a high standard. Playful Corp. have a great many plans for the Lucky’s Tale franchise, and VRFocus can’t wait to see what’s coming next.