Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is an action platformer adventure game. You play as members of the Celtic O’Conall clan, these members being a set of siblings which you can switch between freely. The siblings are: Haggish a giant of a man who whacks things with his fists, Kilcannon a swordsman with javelin and cape, and lastly the beautiful sister of the group, Clackshot the bows woman. The story follows a history where the Fae folk have joined in peace with humans, a human had helped a Fae ruler who in turn gifted them with a upgrade to their crown which… did something, I’m not sure what, but it was a symbol of peace. Many rules have come and gone but the crown has stuck and the peace held. However, like humans, there are bad Fae, and one of them wanted that crown for herself so that she may break the peace and gain power from the crown. Out three intrepid adventurers are the sons and daughter of the current king, who has just been attacked by the bad Fae, Caoránach, she tired to kill him only for the good Fae, who originally gave the crown it’s powers many generations ago, sacrificed their life to protect the king and the peace, enveloping him in a crystal, that Caoránach promptly took off with. You must race against time to get to your king and father, and beat this Fae bitch once and for all.
Okay I guess I’ll start by talking about the characters. Haggish is a brute, he’s giant, wears little, tattoos or war paint all over, when you think age old berserker, he’s about what comes to mind. He’s able to wing up his swing like Popeye and break through massive blocks, he’s also able to cannonball through ones on the floor. He can lift heavy objects, and even spin in circles fast enough to hurt enemies and even to momentarily fly. He does a lot of damage with each hit but he’s also slow to hit and slow to recover from hitting, thankfully if you charge up his punch it’ll send enemies flying so the recovery time isn’t as much of a problem with that. Kilcannon is very much the balanced fighter, he uses a sword and shield, he can deflect, attacks including ranged ones, and eventually he’s even able to counter enemy’s melee attacks and even ranged fireballs. He can throw a javelin as a ranged attack but it’s limited in-so-much that he can only throw it straight ahead. He because of his cape he can glide, and if he hits an updraft he can be lifted up. With his javelin he can even pogostick over enemies, killing them and allowing him to get further. Lastly the almighty Clackshot, she’s… mostly useless. I love her but she’s crap. She can shoot her bow and shoot it fast however there is a limit to her arrows and it takes time to charge them back up, not a lot of time but still it requires pauses, and her arrows do complete shit for damage. She has more range than anyone else and can freely aim too, though it’s not easy to do since you don’t see anything telling you where the arrow is actually going to hit. She’s able to roll around like Samus, hell you can even upgrade her to drop bombs as she rolls, just like Samus. She can double jump and eventually you get a grappling hook to flick around on objects from which is pretty fun. In the end I prefer Kilcannon for fighting as he’s fast and strong, and I believe does more DPS than Haggish, and for outside combat I prefer to use Clackshot as I feel like she moves faster and it’s just easier to get around thanks to her multiple jumps.
Levels are set up for you to collect X amount of secrets, collect X amount of fairies, and kill X amount of enemies. And when I say X amount it means all of them for that level, but each level has different amounts. At the end everything is tallied up and you get a certain about of faries based on how much out of the total of each item you got. These fairies are used to upgrade the characters. Each character has four upgrades, at first you have access to two, and after you buy one you get access to the other two. Each upgrade costs an increased about of faries, and everyone’s upgrade costs are the same, so if you buy all the upgrades for one character it’s not just exponentially going up for the next. Each upgrade gives them a new skill, which is realistically what you’re buying, but it also gives an increase to damage and health and another stat which is different for everyone, except Clackshot who gets an increase in the number of arrows she has instead of an increase in an extra stat.
Each of their abilities allow you to move around the levels, starting with Haggish’s ability to break rocks, Kilcannon’s ability to cut through vines with his sword, and Clackshot’s ability to roll through small spaces. Eventually you unlock Haggish’s ability to pick up heavy objects, have Kilcannon dash attack vines to allow another dash attack, and Clackshot’s ability to use the hooks to swing on. Then later on you start having to use more advanced techniques like Kilcannon’s pogostick attack, which is a finicky bitch to use with a controller, and switching between characters to preform things in a chain without stopping, which is also surprisingly hard to do as it’s hard to remember which button you have to push to flip to the appropriate character in quick succession. This causes the platforming to become harder and harder as you continue. But that’s not all that makes it hard, sometimes it’s the puzzles making it hard, late game there are colored gates, when you walk through them it selects a specific character and won’t let you change from them. In these sections it becomes a puzzle platformer to get where you need to go or what you need to do and get to the various other gates to switch between the characters to continue. Some of the later levels I only managed to do through pure unadulterated luck and nothing else after working at it, in some areas, for literally up to an hour. Thankfully that level of difficulty isn’t the norm and early game platforming is super duper easy.
Combat is… usually pretty good, enemies don’t respawn unless you die in the area and you go back to before your finished that area. There’s only a certain amount of enemies in any level and the game would prefer if you killed them all. Some levels do have what I call areas, you walk into an area and gates come down barring you from going forward or backwards, or you jump down into an area you can’t get out of, and then you have to fight enemies and they just poof into existence over time until you’ve killed everything. In these areas you get a heal right before you fight, then you have to sit there for the full fight, and it just is what it is. You just gotta deal with it and kill them all, some of the later ones, even with everyone leveled pretty high, some of them can be pretty hard because they’ll eventually through like fifty or so enemies at you, including some just really annoyingly large or shielded asshole enemies. They aren’t hard because any of the enemies are hard to kill, but when there’s fifty plus enemies, they eventually start landing hits every so often and it just widdles your health down slowly but surely and then big strong annoying enemies show up and just wreck you because you’ve suffered JUST enough to be killed by them, and look at that the past 5-10 minutes of annoying battle has just restarted because you died to one of the last few enemies.
This game isn’t just filled with simple ‘get to the end of the level killing everything along the way’ levels, there’s also levels which are chases, always by the same asshole unkillable monster. These areas require you to use your platforming, often not having any enemies in it; instead it’s a fight against the clock to solve puzzles to get out of the starting area and checkpoint areas before the monster breaks through blockades to attack you. On top of that you also have to do the platforming fast so that the monster doesn’t catch up with you and just outright kill you. Theses areas give you a pretty big dose of adrenaline as the monster is always slowly catching up to you, you always feel like you have to do things perfectly because it always feels like it’s right there on your ass, when you usually do have some time before that happens so you’re okay to fuck up a little bit, but only a little bit. I enjoy these areas because they’re both more mellow and more rushed than other areas, there’s rarely enemies in this, though one of the worst areas is in one of these chases which is bullshit, blatant fucking bullshit. It’s mellow because there’s not any enemies to really worry about, instead you can just collect the fairies around. The great thing about that is if you collect the fairies and die, when you respawn you start with them already obtained, so there’s less and less you have to collect at while going through the level, meaning eventually you can simply run through without worrying about ANY fairies because you’ve already collected them all.
There’s one other type of level, boss battles. There’s not a ton of them usually one or two in every chapter, which there aren’t may of, but they ramp up in difficulty quickly and to a fairly hefty degree. Most of them are pretty unique, there’s only one boss that’s kind of not, and that’s a boss that you fight THREE different times, he’s an asshole and I hate him, mostly because the third time you fight him I’ve never been able to beat him so I got stuck just thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to the end of the game, which is infuriating, I’m so close I can almost taste victory but instead I eat a big ol’ bowl of shit and defeat. But beyond this boss, every boss is unique, and I mean technically even each version of this boss changes to a degree, he has like three movies in his first form, gets rid of one of the moves and upgrades another in his second fight, and in his third he’s upgraded one of his moves more, and switched out his attack with something even more hateful. So even HE changed, it’s just it’s still him.
The last thing I want to bring up is something small so this will be short, sweet, and to the point. I really appreciate the stylized art that the game uses, the characters look cool, the environments are fantastic, bosses are interesting. It’s all down to how the art shaped the game, and the artists did a FANTASTIC job on it. Also I really like when the siblings talk to each other, which isn’t often as the story usually picks up conversations a couple times during each chapter, and there’s only a few of them. Regardless it feels like a proper family, they riff on each other and uplift each other, they all have their own ways of thinking and seeing the world but they work together anyways, and it’s funny.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.
darkmikasonfire awards Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.