Super Lucky’s Tale - Guardian Trials Review

By Kevin Tavore, 3 months ago
Super Lucky's Tale was this past November’s sequel to the Oculus-exclusive Lucky’s Tale. The game was created by Playful, a small indie developer that was comfortably out of the spotlight until last E3 when Microsoft announced the Xbox One X and confirmed that Super Lucky’s Tale would be the belle of the ball on launch day as the only exclusive title. That put a gigantic spotlight on little ol’ Lucky and many Xbox players watched for reviews with bated breath to find out if Microsoft would finally have its Mario. In our own official review, Sam essentially confirmed what everyone suspected might be true — Super Lucky’s Tale was an alright game with an alright star thrust into a limelight. Now Playful has come back for more with the “Guardian Trials” DLC, but unfortunately these leftovers aren’t any better or worse than the first time around.

The Guardian Trials offered Playful an opportunity to right many of the main game’s wrongs. It’s structured as one overworld with a bunch of levels themed around gameplay mechanics explored in the main game. Some developers use DLC like this to explore a game’s depth and perhaps test out some new ideas that didn’t make it into the main game but here we’re offered up essentially more of the same. Lucky is the same Lucky from the main game, with no new mechanics to worry or be excited about.

At the very least, the gameplay is as fun as it ever was. You’ll make your way through both 2D and 3D platforming levels in a test of skill. You’ll fight in an arena and in two boss fights from the main game again with slightly higher difficulty in a test of strength. And you’ll “challenge” your mind by playing additional marble levels which feature Lucky stuck in a rolling ball. These concepts are tried and true in the Lucky universe and each level is fairly fun and quick to get through, thankfully with far less need to find collectibles than in the main game.

Super Lucky's Tale

The platforming levels are especially fun. They’re designed well with plenty of challenges and a solid flow that always keeps you moving. Without the collectibles, you’ll be able to cruise through the game at a nice clip, tackling challenge after challenge as you progress toward the end of each level. These levels will often focus on specific mechanics and test them in unique ways. Even Lucky’s trademark burrowing ability gets its own level. The variety and pacing of these levels make them worth playing and likely justify a purchase for many right there.

But while the DLC carries forward some of the main game’s appeal, it also carries forward its problems — floaty controls, depth perception and minimal traversal abilities. If you play the game on a standard Xbox One, the controls still feel a bit floaty. On Xbox One, the game runs at 60fps and that helps noticeably. The game never requires precision timing so that’s perhaps tolerable, but on a platformer positioned as preeminent exclusive, it’s not acceptable either. The hallmark of a good platformer is the ability to have perfect execution and thanks to the feel of the game, that’s probably not realistically possible.

Even worse is the issue with depth perception. The ability to move in a 3D world comes naturally to all of us at this point, but we’re likely all familiar with “platforming sections” in non-platformers that just play awfully. It’s easy to take something like Super Mario 64’s best-in-class platforming for granted, but those non-platformers show there’s an art and requisite mastery of game design required to make 3D platforming work. Super Lucky’s Tale does not have that mastery. You’ll find yourself missing platforms and enemies on a regular basis as it’s practically impossible at times to figure out exactly where something is on the Z axis. That’s really not ideal.

Super Lucky's Tale

Lucky’s moveset is still far too small. He’s got a single jump that goes about 3/4 as high as you’d expect and a double jump that adds another 1/4 on to that and he can spin his tale to remain airborne slightly longer which is rarely useful. The only unique mechanic is a burrowing ability which is criminally underused. DLC is a great opportunity for developers to try out new things and it’s a shame the developers didn’t seize that opportunity here.

The achievements are luckily pretty easy, especially if you’ve completed the main game. You’ll complete all of the levels of course, which can easily be done in about 2-3 hours. Then you’ll have a few challenges to complete on select levels, such as completing the arena without getting hit. There are a few miscellaneous achievements in the overworld that take literally seconds to earn after viewing a guide. Finally, you’ll need to buy all the costumes available which requires an extremely high number of coins, which completionists already have thanks to other achievements in the main game. Overall, this shouldn’t take long at all to finish for anyone who played the base game.

Check out our The Best Xbox Platformer Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

The “Guardian Trials” is a rather timid and safe entry into Super Lucky’s Tale’s stable of gameplay. The essence of this DLC could be quite fairly distilled down into “more of the same,” which is fine if hardly a ringing endorsement. The gameplay is what you’re familiar with, which is fun but not without its problems. You’ll still have floaty controls, you’ll still fumble with depth perception and you’ll still use the minimal number of gameplay mechanics to move about. But the levels are smartly designed and they’re fun despite the game’s shortcomings. That’s gotta count for something.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • New levels are well-designed and interesting
  • Removal of collectibles aids in pacing
  • Gameplay is fun, if simple
Negatives
  • Serious issues with depth perception make platforming and combat difficult
  • No new mechanics
  • Controls still feel a bit floaty
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent roughly three hours completing all of the trials and earning some extra achievements. He gathered 10 of 13 achievements for 305 Gamerscore. An Xbox One review copy was provided by the publisher.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Kevin is a lover of all types of media, especially any type of long form story. The American equivalent of Aristotle, he'll write about anything and everything and you'll usually see him as the purveyor of news, reviews and the occasional op-ed. He's happy with any game that's not point and click or puzzling, but would always rather be outdoors in nature.