Hunter’s Legacy from Lienzo
Hunter’s Legacy from Mexican studio Lienzo is a solid action platformer in the Metroidvania vein. While the action, puzzles and boss fights are all solid – hard enough to make you think and even struggle, but not so hard that they’re needlessly frustrating – it’s the setting and characters that make the game stand out.
Start with a seemingly generic fantasy storyline. You’ve got the villain who must be defeated and the sacred artifact that must be recovered. What breathes new life into an old setting? The answer, of course, is cats.
The stereotypical fantasy village in need of a hero is indeed populated entirely by anthropomorphic cats. The protagonist is, of course, also a cat. Specifically, she’s a cream tabby by the name of Ikki who wields a sword in each hand – paw, rather – as well as being a deadly shot with bow and arrow.
Unlike the typical animal-themed platformer (see the Sonic the Hedgehog, Donkey Kong and Crash Bandicoot franchises), Hunter’s Legacy avoids the usual madcap zany humor in favor of playing things straight. Take the cat characters out, and the game is a by-the-numbers side-scrolling action fantasy, with forests, caves, and mountains full of obstacles to jump over and enemies to bash and little in the way of visual gags. Personally, I found that refreshing.
The feline elements do give the game a unique charm, though. Besides the fact that Ikki and her fellow villagers are cute – but not cloyingly so – other little touches are clever enough to appeal to cat-lovers while subtle to avoid irritating players less enamored of the feline. Instead of hearts, for example, Ikki grabs red fish to recover health. She also hisses amusingly when struck, a sound effect charming enough to make up for the repetitive nature of her grunts when jumping or attacking.
Oh, What a Feline
Hairballs and hisses aside, Hunter’s Legacy works solidly as an action platformer. Movement and attacks are smooth, the game doles out special attacks and moves (like a dash and a downward strike) quickly enough to be interesting but not so quickly to be overwhelming.
Sprawling but not overcrowded level design allows multiple routes to victory and jumping and environmental puzzles keep things interesting. One level, for example, requires that Ikki traverses rarefied air via floating spores, while another plays with hot and cold areas, requiring thoughtful planning rather than mad dashes toward the end. Similarly, carefully placed secrets reward exploration without demanding it.
The Cat’s Meow
The dev team has also done a fairly impressive job managing the game’s difficulty. Hunter’s Legacy feels like an old school platformer, not a new school retro punishment. It’s tough but manageable. A specific boss fight – listed by one walk-through as the easiest in the game – had me stymied for a couple of days, but the game itself was engaging enough that I kept coming back until I managed to beat the level.
The developers really nailed the feel of the old school Metroidvania with this. It doesn’t do much new with the genre, but it’s a lot of fun and very well balanced.
Also, there are cats. Did we mention the cats? Cats.
Hunter’s Legacy is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Hunter’s Legacy below: