Review – DreamWorks Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure

If you’re in your late 20’s to early 30’s, you might remember that one DreamWorks movie called Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. One of the various passable, albeit forgettable traditionally animated movies the studio would release before shifting to CGI with their seminal juggernaut Shrek. I used to think Spirit was a one-and-done kind of movie, but I guess I was wrong. It seems that an animated series loosely based on the movie, called Spirit Riding Free, and has been so successful to the point of spanning a dozen seasons and a few special episodes. The series is now getting its own feature-length movie, Spirit Untamed, as well as a video game, Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure.

Spirit: Lucky's Big Adventure Horse

Yes, you can pet the horse.

Ladies and gentlemen, you read that right: in the year of the lord 2021, we’re finally getting a licensed movie tie-in. As in a game (loosely) based on its feature film source material released alongside the movie as part of a multimedia marketing strategy. Just like during the golden days of the fifth and sixth console generations. You rarely get a good game out of these deals, but I can’t help but feel morbidly excited to play a tie-in in this day and age, as these kinds of licensed games are my Achilles’ heel.

I really didn’t know what to expect on a game about a horse and his teenage owner. The original Spirit movie from 2002 was somewhat dark and serious for a cartoon, but Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure is almost like its polar opposite. It’s a super saccharine, pseudo open world adventure published by Outright Games, the same publisher behind almost all other licensed cartoon games out in the market, such as Paw Patrol and Gigantosaurus. It is one of the easiest and simplest adventure games I’ve played in recent memory. A game so simple even a five year old can platinum it in a couple of hours. And no, this is not a flaw.

Spirit: Lucky's Big Adventure Riding

It’s no Red Dead Redemption, but these horse riding mechanics aren’t half-bad.

Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure is aimed at a very young audience, most specifically young girls. Even though the horse is the franchise’s protagonist, you actually control his owner, a teenage girl named Lucky. You start off the game by exploring a bit of the Western-inspired town of Miradero, as well as its outskirts, followed by completing half a dozen fetch quests for your dad. The main plot will unfold afterwards, revolving around discovering the location of a hidden treasure left behind by the protagonist’s mom, as well as occasionally dealing with the movie/game’s main villain, an evil horse wrangler called Hendricks.

The gameplay mostly revolves around grabbing an item and delivering it to an NPC in need. It’s mainly about doing chores, which as expected is simple and boring. The game tries to diversify its overall gameplay loop every now and then with the occasional racing section against one of Lucky’s friends’ horses, as well as some totally out of place stealth sections whenever you’re dealing against Hendricks and his gang. You can also explore the overworld in between missions, but there isn’t a lot to do in it besides unveiling the occasional sidequest or fooling around with the game’s surprisingly above-average horse riding mechanics.


Was this really necessary?

By no means is Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure a polished open world game, but at the very least, riding around with Spirit isn’t that terrible. The riding mechanics are clearly inspired by Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, albeit with slightly more responsive controls. Spirit can accelerate by spending “horseshoe points”, akin to Epona’s carrots, as well as automatically jump over fences and hedges, at the cost of completely halting your momentum in the process.

Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure‘s presentation is quite decent, but definitely not devoid of flaws. I really liked the game’s colorful visuals, excellent framerate, and the quality of both Lucky and Spirit’s models. However, it suffers from a lot of visual glitches, especially whenever there’s a lot of grass, lack of shadows and related lighting effects, and the overall “cheapness” of pretty much every single other character in the entire game, namely Lucky’s friends, Abigail and Pru. Whereas our protagonist features decent facial animations, her friends looked way more robotic, almost as if they were dead on the inside.

The game’s sound department is its main highlight. The soundtrack is comprised of slide guitars, banjos, and the typical instrumentation you would expect from a Western-inspired game. There aren’t that many songs included in the game’s soundtrack, but I was impressed with how catchy these handful of tunes were, especially the C&W-flavored tuned played whenever I’d arrive at the town of Miradero. There’s a bit of voice acting in here, with almost every single line of dialogue being delivered by Lucky. While good, it gets repetitive after a while. Lucky will always shout out “yeehaw, let’s go, Spirit” every time you make the horse run faster.


These stealth sections felt completely out of place, but hey, I’ll take anything to spice the gameplay up a bit.

Recommending Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure is just like recommending most average-at-best licensed games released over the years. Are you a fan of the source material? Do you have kids who love the show? Then this is an easy recommendation, as they’ll have a blast with its decent presentation and easy-to-acquire platinum trophy. If neither you or your kids care about Spirit, then there’s little in here that will make you want to play it. It’s way too simplistic and quite unpolished, with little to no challenge or lasting appeal for anyone over the age of ten.


Graphics: 6.5

The game is colorful, the framerate is excellent, and both Lucky and Spirit are well-modeled. Sadly, the rest of the game is filled with flickering glitches and poorly-made NPC models.

Gameplay: 6.5

Although the core gameplay loop is uninspiring and menial, riding Spirit is easy and intuitive. Dare I say, it’s even fun at times.

Sound: 8.0

A really good Country and Western soundtrack coupled with decent, but repetitive voice acting.

Fun Factor: 5.5

The game is incredibly shallow and completely devoid of any semblance challenge. It is only recommended to die-hard fans of the franchise.

Final Verdict: 6.5

DreamWorks Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of DreamWorks Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure was provided by the publisher.