King Lucas is a “2.5D” platformer with side-scrolling action, evolving castle layouts, and plenty of nostalgic charm. It’s a title with an Adventure feel to it, complete with storyline involving rescue missions and precarious travel through a vast internal landscape, with some interesting characters to meet along the way. With over 1,000 rooms in the end game, the developers over at DevilishGames have certainly provided an elaborate, clever world for players to explore. But can King Lucas stack up to countless other platformers and medieval-themed games?
King Lucas, Princesses, and NPCs
King Lucas plays like most 2D, side-scrolling platformers: a lot of jumping, grabbing ladders, dodging lava, and quickly killing enemies before they can overwhelm you. As you explore, you’ll find and speak with numerous NPCs who often have a shop attached to them, plus some witty dialog; this is a title that pokes fun at itself, in good humor, which is something I’ve come to enjoy more and more. As you smash barrels to find coins, keys, potions, and more, there’s also a chance that you’ll find a crystal, which serves as a save point. I’d have enjoyed more save options, honestly; King Lucas feels a lot like perma-death at times, since you have to start over at the castle entrance with each death. However, the monsters you’ve slain stay dead, doors are still unlocked, and so forth – you just have to navigate all over again, and dodge obstacles that can’t be disabled.
I love that, while King Lucas feels a lot like Rogue Legacy and similar titles, it’s got the unique charm of having hand-designed castle rooms – these aren’t procedural designs – which are interconnected, altering every time a new search begins. With the old-style Graphics and Retro-inspired sounds, King Lucas feels like a charming trek into an older world of gaming. The controls are intuitive and simple; inventory management is a minor aspect, rather than a chore. You even get to customize your character, which seems to remain gender-neutral throughout the game, adding another level of depth to the gameplay.
As an avid fan of co-op and multiplayer titles, I was extra excited to see that King Lucas supports both single-player and online multiplayer modes. Unfortunately, at least at the time of this review, the community is small enough that I was unable to find any online lobbies to join. I attempted to add other players via the Steam discussion forum, but the traffic there also seems to be at a minimum; the conversations that do exist seem to point out to some persistent, staggering bugs, which plague the players who have buddies available for multiplayer sessions.
This is something I hope DevilishGames can remedy in the future, because King Lucas is a fantastic environment for co-op shenanigans – especially if players can unintentionally injure each other in the process. The Retro-style theme certainly is reminiscent of old, couch co-op titles, so I will definitely check back later to see if the persistent bugs have been fixed and if the community has grown large enough to provide at least infrequent, if not numerous, online lobbies for multiplayer action.
King Lucas is a straight-forward, fun platformer that brings a lot of old-school fun with it. The options between single and multiplayer is a great boon, and I love that the individually-designed castle rooms are always in different combinations – something that lends well to replay value. With full controller support, Steam trading cards and achievements, there’s a lot going on here; you can even enable subtitles in English or Spanish. The price point is a little high, considering that multiplayer is basically non-existent, unless you happen to have a friend who owns the game already on your friends' list. Changes to the system, plus stability improvements, could fix that in the future, but currently, I recommend looking at King Lucas as mostly a single-player adventure.
The game itself is fairly easy, especially if you’re patient with your attacks. Coins and loot, in general, is fairly abundant, and most of the time I was able to dispatch foes with only a few swings of my sword or ax. But that makes for low-key, quaint play sessions great for casual gamers, or for a younger player in the household. And while there is nothing revolutionary here, not to mention that the developers are still working on numerous bugs especially in multiplayer, I still definitely enjoyed my trek into the land of castles and lost princesses, and I look forward to visiting King Lucas again soon.