Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lugaru HD: Going in Blind

It's been almost two weeks since Easter, but I've still got bunnies on the brain. My latest article at PopMatters is about Lugaru HD.

I purchased the game as part of 2009's Humble Indie Bundle but had never found the time to play it. Not only that, I had never taken the time to do any research about the game whatsoever. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't an anthropomorphic warrior rabbit on a quest for revenge.

Shortly after the game's tutorial started, I realized what I had on my hands: Lugaru HD is a 3D brawler. Even after learning the control scheme, I was still in the dark in regards to the game's structure: Was there a hub world? How would weapons interact with each other? Would these rabbits talk? I realized it had been a long time since I had entered a game without any preconceptions.

Ultimately, I had mixed feelings towards the game. Combat encounters oscillated between feeling fluid and clunky. Even when viewed in its historical context, Lugaru's approach to 3D combat is less elegant than games like Devil May Cry or God of War. The environments were surprisingly large, but I rarely used all the space in my many battles against the other vicious woodland creatures. The story, sparse as it is, walks the line between self-serious and camp sensibilities, which intrigued me to the point that finishing the plot became my prime motivation for playing. I found its mixture of grit and humor quite charming.

While I have my reservations about the impending transition to an all-digital future, my experience with Lugaru is a great example of the benefits of a downloadable model. The Humble Indie Bundle allowed me to play a game I never would have encountered. Flexible pricing and an innovative promotional strategy rewarded an independent developer, extended an old game's life, and gave me a unique and valuable experience. What more could you ask for?

The only answer I can come up with is "more," so hopefully projects like the Humble Indie Bundle will make like rabbits and multiply. Going into a game without any expectations was a refreshing respite from the hype-saturated mainstream environment and I hope to do it more often.

No comments:

Post a Comment