Hunter’s Legacy is a 2D action platformer that evokes similar charms to that of the Metroid and Castlevania series, with its gradual acquirement of new abilities allowing you to explore previously blocked paths. However, despite some strong elements of design throughout the majority of the title, a few omissions really hurt the overall intuitiveness and polish.

You are the huntress Ikki, a well-respected feline warrior from the small village of Un’Amak, filled with fellow bipedal cats. A villainous entity known as Morodir, has stolen three orbs and threatens to destroy the kingdom of Iripur. It’s up to you to venture fourth with your twin blades and bow and defeat this villain, saving the kingdom.

In order to confront Morodir, you’ll need to acquire new abilities that help your chances in battle. This means adventuring through a variety of different locations and slaying that region’s boss. Meanwhile, you come across paths that are currently blocked, but as you defeat the bosses and gain new abilities, you’ll be able to overcome some of these platforming obstacles and find hidden treasures that can be used to further enhance your health and attack attributes.

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It’s very much a Metroidvania platformer, with a non-lineal design focusing on exploration. And it’s well-designed too, with a seldom seen verticality to level design that allows for ample opportunities to discover paths high in the air or deep underground, which in turn allows you to proceed deeper into the region you’re exploring in the hopes you’ll find the treasures you need to upgrade Ikki.

Unfortunately however, this exploration is also the source of the titles main frustration: not being able to find the treasures to upgrade Ikki. For the majority of the adventure you can muddle through, dying frequently as your face new or large groups of enemies, and relying more on luck than skill for a couple of bosses, but making enough progress to feel like it’s worth the hardship. However, eventually the bosses become too challenging for luck to see you through, and that extra damage or health you could acquire through upgrading becomes crucially important. And you’re free to explore the kingdom looking for the purple crystals that allow you to trade for upgrades, but you’re provided no clues as to where they may be.

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A map gives you a general idea of the layout of the kingdom but only the over-world rather than the intricacies of the regions. Meanwhile, portals can be discovered that facilitate quick travel between levels, which is a great time saver, but finding the crystals is entirely up to you. And with levels being large sprawling areas, it’s tricky to find areas you’ve not visited. Eventually you find areas that have been blocked with stones that only a specific ability can smash through, or a platform that is only accessible with the dash ability, but many of these areas hold ordinary treasure, used to buy the upgrades but only if you have those aforementioned purple crystals. It’s aggravating to say the least, and makes the exploration a chore more so than a treat.

Fortunately, the platforming and combat are great. Ikki smoothly and accurately jumps and travels through the air, allowing high precision and fast platforming. Meanwhile, combat with the twin blades has a three-move set of attacks that cover an effective arch in front, below or above Ikki, depending on the direction you’re pushing, that’s fast enough not to leave you vulnerable. The Bow has a standard and charged shot for dealing with enemies at range, and the ability to roll – and later dash – to avoid taking damage works splendidly. It’s all very well put together.

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However, whilst there’s clearly some smart design behind the scenes, with enemies sporting a nice variety of movement and abilities to keep you on your toes as you gradually master your own abilities, and the hand-drawn art providing a charming aesthetic, the limited animations for Ikki when she jumps and hangs from platforms takes you out of the experience a little.

Hunter’s Legacy’s old-school 2D platforming action sets a pleasant nostalgic tone, but whilst the era of games it’s trying to emulate did often put up a stiff challenge, here it feels a bit too unfair. Indeed it is possible to complete the game without any upgrades, but that method is more reliant on luck than skill. Fortunately, if you do find enough crystals to upgrade you attack and health, you’ll find a challenging but enjoyable adventure awaits you in the kingdom or Iripur.

Thanks to Xbox and Lienzo Mx for supporting TiX