Review – Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag
Puzzle/platformers are one of the oldest genres in gaming, and yet they still seem to be popping up everywhere. I’m always impressed by the new and inventive twists put upon these games after all these decades. There are poignant epics like Ori and the Blind Forest and brutally difficult yet deep titles like Celeste. There are games that unfold silently like Limbo and Creaks. Then there are your more silly and whimsical titles like Unravel and of course the Mario Bros games. I’m always eager to try a new puzzle/platformer, so when I saw the trailer for HitGrab’s Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag, I didn’t hesitate to jump in.
Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is a fantasy adventure steeped in Celtic mythology and lore. After generations of peace between the citizens of Hibernia and the Fae Folk, Caoránach, the The Mother of Demons, has kidnapped Hibernia’s leader, Chief Arden, and stolen the ancient Crown of the Stag. With it, she throws the land into upheaval in her quest for ultimate power. Now it’s up the three siblings of the O’Conall clan to rescue their father, retrieve the crown, and save Hibernia from the clutches of Caoránach and her minions.
The story in Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is charming and interesting enough to keep you invested the whole way through. It’s parceled out at a nice pace through cutscenes whenever you beat a main area or boss. The thing that really impressed me though was the lore. There was a lot of research done into the Celtic lore of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, which shows in its character and enemy designs. I’m sure not many people will appreciate the level of detail these characters have been given to best represent their source of inspiration, but as someone who’s fascinated by the mythology of various cultures, I can tell you that a great deal of care has gone into their designs.
As I’ve previously stated, Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is a puzzle/platformer. However, there’s more to it than that. There’s a great deal of combat in here as well, which is a lot of fun due to the responsive controls. Not to mention this game’s main feature: controlling each member of your clan.
There are three siblings in the Clan O’Conall: Swordmaster Kilcannon, Huntress Clakshot, and Haggish the Brute. Each one comes with their own specific skill set. Kilcannon is your more well-rounded melee fighter who cuts down his enemies with his sword. Clakshot is a spry hunter who uses a bow for ranged attacks, and can double jump and roll beneath small crevices. Haggish is the big lumbering brute who can break shields, move heavy objects, and deliver slow, yet devastating attacks.
You’re able to switch between all three siblings at will, which you’ll need to do often to get past various enemies and obstacles. Luckily, this doesn’t take much time to get use to and almost feels like second nature before too long. It reminds very much of the Trine games in this regard.
There are three main chapters will several levels in each. On top of fighting your way through numerous foes and solving puzzles in order to progress, you’re also graded based on how well you do at the end of each level. Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag keeps tabs on how many times you die and how many golden fairies you collect in each stage. As you might expect, collecting all the fairies and making it through to the end of the level without dying gives you more experience points. You can then turn these in to upgrade each character’s stats and unlock new moves and abilities. This helps to keep the game feeling fresh the whole way through.
As far as the visuals go, Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag has a very fun art design. It looks light and cartoony, even though many of the boss designs were inspired by darker bronze-age Celtic mythology. Since this game doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a wonderful way to introduce the deeper Celtic lore in a more casual manner. The framerate is also pretty stable, usually managing to keep a steady 60fps, even with multiple enemies onscreen.
There’s no voice acting, but the sound effects very well done. The soundtrack is wonderful as well. MoonWalk Audio created an entirely original score based around Celtic-inspired music. Every song fits the setting of each level beautifully, with some real bangers to get your energy up for the more intense sections.
I was pleasantly surprised by Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag. I was expecting to get a fun yet mediocre game that would be an enjoyable way to pass the time for a coupe of hours. However, what I got was a charming, addicting, tightly controlled experience with some lovable characters in a fantastic setting. It’s not the most punishing puzzle/platformer out there, so veterans and more casual gamers alike can enjoy themselves in this Celtic adventure.
The cartoonish art design fits the humorous nature of this game well.
The platforming aspects aren’t overly punishing and the puzzles aren’t too complicated, which is great for more casual gamers. Each character is fun to play as and switching between them quickly becomes second nature.
The sound effects are well done and the Celtic soundtrack throws you right into the spirit of things.
Fun Factor: 9.0
While not the toughest puzzle/platformer, its responsive controls make it a lot of fun to play. The characters are hilarious and the story is more engaging than I was expecting.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC with an i7-9700k, RTX 2070, and 16gb DDR4 RAM.
A copy of Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag was provided by the publisher.