I hate platformers. I know it sucks to say this upfront at a review but I truly hate them as I suck at them. But hear me out: That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy any platformers at all. Celeste makes up for it with its accessibility, soundtrack and story. Similarly, Hollow Knight is fairly enjoyable due to the soundtrack, story, combat and characters. And well, Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag also adds its own twist to the genre and is fairly enjoyable because of that even if I personally am very bad at platformers.
Developer: HitGrab Publisher: HitGrab Genre: Indie, Action, Adventure, Mythology, Hand-Drawn, Puzzle, Platformer Release Date: April 28th, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy was provided by the publisher.
Clan O’Conall is a game that introduces you to a world full of might and magic where the Celtic Clans and the Demons join hands to end the age-old war and live together in harmony… but peace doesn’t last forever as Caoránach, the Mother of Demons, has kidnapped Chief Arden and stolen the ancient Crown of the Stag! With it, she wishes to undo the generations-old peace between the Fae Folk and the Mortals of Hibernia while also unleashing total calamity! All that stands between her and her goal are the three inheritors of Clan O’Conall: Kilcannon, Clakshot and Haggish!
In Clan O’Conall, you play three characters at the same time. Kilcannon is a Swordmaster that can glide through the air and defeat enemies with swift sword slashes and spear-thrusts. Clakshot is a Huntress that is agile and swift, leaping down from the sky and letting arrows rain down upon enemies. She has piercing attacks and other tricks up her sleeve, which makes her a frail but strong character. And then there’s Haggish the Brute, a slow but powerful lad that can move obstacles, punch his way through enemies and break down barriers. As you play three characters in one, you have to utilize each character’s strength to make up for the weakness of the others while also solving puzzles, beating bosses, and getting closer to Caoránach. Upon a simple button press, you switch between characters and you utilize different attacks and combos to beat down enemies. At the same time, each character comes with a distinct skill tree, allowing you to customize the playstyles, make up for possible weaknesses or enhancing existing strengths. The “multiple characters in one” idea isn’t super new, I’d say, but I really enjoyed the way it was tied into the story and how the combat styles of the three make it seem interesting and innovative. Certain enemies are easier to defeat with some characters than with others but you can still in theory beat them with all the others.
Still, even when combat is less reliant on switching, the puzzles certainly are. Teamwork’s important after all! Kilcannon may dash through the air to reach distant points while Clakshot’s double jump and agility come in handy when you need to reach higher places and well, Haggish can push heavy objects and destroy walls and grounds. In a way, this action-platformer concept reminded me of Guacamelee, which I found quite enjoyable. Clan O’Conall has similar ideas and puts them into a new context with interesting puzzles that are very unique as well as new mechanics that I haven’t really seen before in games.
All of this is accompanied by an all-original and rather magnificent Celtic-inspired soundtrack by MoonWalk Audio. The music really works well with the themes, the art style, and the story. As the game is set in Celtic Mythology and Folklore and as it features Celtic characters, it was rather fitting (duh), but the soundtrack overall was also great for this game because it made me zone out at times. I found it quite enjoyable to just listen to some of the tracks instead of actually progressing. Even if certain stages later into the game can be a tad difficult and frustrating, the soundtrack made up for that as I got to hear the same song, over and over and again and again. Meanwhile, the hand-drawn art style really drew me in and I liked the comic-ness of it, as well as the animation that made your smashes, slashes and shots feel powerful. It felt really good to combo through enemies and blast through stages… and the overall presentation of the game really helped the experience.
But then again, I suck at platformers, so I would have loved to see some help here and there in the form of accessibility settings that you can enable to get done with one stage that you can’t finish… and disable to enjoy the rest of the game as planned. Sure, the story, score and art style were great but when you’re stuck in one level and can’t progress, that sucks… and you can’t really see much more. I would have really appreciated something like an easy mode to activate just for one section with more jumps, invulnerability or anything like that. BUT I don’t wanna hold it too much against the game. If you’re not good at platformers, the game isn’t supposed to make it easier for you, especially when it already gives you plenty of tools to overcome platforming sections with multiple characters.
It would have probably gone better if I had been able to use my gamepad… Since it’s a third-party gamepad, however, it didn’t work for the game… BUT the developers were very helpful in the discord and joined me in a voice call and all of that and they promised me that they’d work on it immediately, so I wouldn’t be too mad at that. The game itself works apparently really well with other gamepads, according to other community members in the discord, so I guess it’s not that much of a flaw. It’s just something that’s getting fixed in one of the next few updates.
So, overall, Clan O’Conall feels very good if you’re into action-platformers with interesting puzzles, beautiful art and an amazing soundtrack. Personally, I did make progress through some areas that I was stuck at previously but I wouldn’t recommend this title to you if you’re really bad at platformers. Overall, it’s a recommendation for sure but I personally am just not good enough at them and that’s not the game’s fault. It’s just mea culpa.
This post is part of the Blaugust 2021 event. For more information on that, check out this post!