If you’re a fan of platformers like myself, then the term “Metroidvania” is probably one that you’ve become familiar with. Coined after the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it is used to describe a platformer title that has a large game world to explore rather than linear 2D stages that usually require some back-tracking and exploration to achieve completion. It’s become the norm for many developers who make these titles, all with varying degrees of success. So when I got my hands on Hunter’s Legacy, I was excited to see what a new game and creative team could bring to this timeless genre.
Hunter’s Legacy tells the story for the great feline warrior Ikki as she is challenged to save her home land from the evil forces of Morodir, a powerful evil sorcerer. To do this, you must take Ikki across various landscapes to recover three power orbs to negate his negative effects on the world- straight forward enough, right? Collect orbs and save the world. In traditional platformer style, the game is filled with various obstacles and enemies you must dispatch and over come to achieve your goal. Fortunately, where some of these games are dead on arrival is in the control section- Hunter’s Legacy avoids this pitfall. The controls feel really tight, and the difficulty and frustrations in exploration come from level design rather than controls. Ikki jumps when you tell her to, and doesn’t suffer from lost frames or missed ledges when you move her.
Combat is also simple but effective- you’ve got a sword to handle those baddies up close, and a bow that you can use to hit ’em from a distance. The bow is remarkably useful and given to you early enough on where it becomes a valuable tool for you to use to get yourself out of those early game troubles but makes an impression enough where you’ll swear by it the rest of the game. The enemies can be a bit frustrating at times, with random patterns and even unfair advantages like being able to hit you from behind a wall, but being completely protected from your attacks while doing so. It can be irritating, but with a little practice and game time, you’ll grow accustomed to it. Each of your weapons is upgradeable by finding both money in your travels as well as pieces of Ore that are hidden in the various stages that you will find by exploring them more in depth. Unfortunately, this is where the struggles begin.
Ascetically, the games visuals are clean but a little uninspired. They call to mind the style of “Adventure Time”, but fail to captivate and charm they way that show does. The animations for enemies are great, but Ikki often looks robotic and underwhelming which, being the protagonist, is a little disappointing. Stage design is pretty straight forward as well, with each region being modeled differently- ranging from a dense forest to a volcanic mountain- again, nice variety but nothing spectacular. The areas are colorful and inviting although the locations and backdrops do become repetitive after a some time. The big hiccup I had with the ambiance was the soundtrack, or lack of one. I found that after a few hours of play, what was once a charming example of classic-style platforming music quickly turned into a repetitive loop that became more annoying than anything else. All of that aside, the biggest downfall of this experience is arguably the mechanic most important in this style of platformer- the map system.
In a game that requires you to back track and explore every nook and cranny of the world you’re in, the one function you feel you absolutely need is a good map to keep track of it all. Instead of the detailed and helpful map of say, Castlevania:SotN or Metroid, you’re given an over-world map with each of the regions marked by a dot. No local map. No mention or hint at where things are missing. Nothing. That’s all you get. So you would have to not only explore sections blindly and hope you’re in a new part, or keep track of it all yourself. Without knowing what the area looks like, you’re left to run around with no direction- looking for Ore became a wild goose chase rather than back tracking and over coming new challenges. It might seem like I’m being hard on this one part of the game, but it really does just hinder the experience a bit and makes you scratch your head and wonder, “why?” Now that’s not to say it ruins the game completely, but it really is a major draw back to an otherwise entertaining few hours of game play, especially at it’s great price.[review]