02 October 2011

Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot

Gaming Genres: Hack & Slash
Story Genres: Action, Fantasy
Graphical Styles: 3D, Realism
Series/World: Lugaru
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): Wolfire Games
Publisher(s): Wolfire Games
Initial Release Date: January 28, 2005
Website(s): Homepage
Lugaru is the predecessor to Overgrowth. The main character, Turner, is an anthropomorphic rebel bunny rabbit with impressive combat skills. In his quest to find those responsible for slaughtering his village, he uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy involving the corrupt leaders of the rabbit republic and the starving wolves from a nearby den. Turner takes it upon himself to fight against their plot and save his fellow rabbits from slavery.

Lugaru's primary feature is its unique combat system. Instead of relying on confusing button combinations to perform moves, Lugaru's moves are all logical and context sensitive. For example, if an opponent aims a roundhouse kick at Turner's head, you can crouch and then stand up under the attack to grab your assailant's leg and kick him away. If you try and punch an opponent and he tries to throw you over his shoulder, you can crouch to roll painlessly out of the throw. This new combat system makes fights look and feel much more intense and believable than in any other game. However, if straight close-range combat with hands, knives, swords and staves is not your style, you can also use stealth, but you have to be smart about it.

Lugaru has a extremely steep learning curve and, in my opinion, no matter what difficulty setting you choose you will be very frustrated the first time you play it. When I played it for the first time the controls and gameplay seemed simplistic and the reaction time needed for reversals (read countering/blocking) seemed super-human and unrealistic, leading to much button mashing. But after I finally got the hang of it is actually quite enjoyable and natural.

It is also a very short game, and devoid of much above and beyond arena combat. But the multiple difficulty levels (which provide a very different experience) and the multiple challenge levels adds a lot of post single-player campaign enjoyment. I could nit-pick and mention that the sword controls are quite disappointing, that the game would benefit a lot from a some action-adventure gameplay, and it is annoying that all the really useful attacks are only ever successful against near death enemies. Mostly, I think it could benefit from being less context sensitive and more combat mechanics like Die by the Sword.

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Hints/Tips/Walkthrough (+):
Indieness: Quintessentially Indie
Play/Watch?: Should Play

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