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Video Game / The Count Lucanor

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The Count Lucanor is a horror-exploration game developed by Baroque Decay, and released on March 3rd, 2016. Using a blend between 8 and 16 bit style graphics and gameplay, the game takes its inspiration mainly from properties such as The Legend of Zelda, Silent Hill, and Yume Nikki.

The story of the game is very much set up as a Fairy Tale, but deliberately harkening back to the genre's old and dark roots. A young boy named Hans has just turned ten, but he and his mother are too poor to properly celebrate his birthday. Fed up with this lifestyle, Hans decides to leave home in search of treasure and adventure. Before he leaves, his mother gives him his grandfather's cane, some cheese and three pieces of gold to help him on his way. Wandering the woods, Hans eventually stumbles across the castle of Count Lucanor, a wealthy nobleman seeking an heir to inherit his fortune.

The game is available for purchase on Steam here, and was released on the Nintendo Switch on October 19, 2017, the PlayStation 4 on November 21, 2017, and the PlayStation Vita on January 9, 2018.


The Count Lucanor contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The old woman thrashes her pig to keep it in line - and, at least as they appear in the castle, that pig is actually her son under a magic spell. In some of the endings, Hans has the opportunity to convince her to use positive reinforcement instead.
  • Action Survivor: Hans.
  • Ambiguously Evil:
    • The Kobold and the other servants are extremely willing to kill Hans, whether it's by directly attacking, tricking him into running a gauntlet of deadly challenges, or magically dropping him from a considerable height into a monster-filled dungeon. They're also seemingly all in on the plan to trick Hans into trapping himself and losing his memory. And yet, in every ending they're also pretty nice to him, whether it's by serving his every whim as the new Count or letting him walk out with a respectful farewell. The Kobold claims that the murderousness of his tests was ordered by his master, whom he is implicitly magically bound to obey against his will, but even if that's the case the plan to trick Hans was the Kobold's own idea.
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    • The old woman and her pig-man son. The son claims his mother was the witch whom she says cursed him, and she certainly abuses him, but since he abuses everyone else, it's hard to know which of them is the liar. The old woman doesn't care if her son dies, but she says this is just because he deserved it.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Intentional. The creatures stalking the castle depths have poor eyesight, and won't detect Hans until he's right in their face. They make up for this by chewing big chunks out of your health if they actually do catch you.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The pig man, if you choose to have the goat kill him for his letter. Even his mother has no reaction, saying he deserved what was coming to him.
    • The merchant apparently gets lynched offscreen in some endings. But he was admittedly a jerk who exploited and stole from a ten-year-old child, and was implied to be a slave-trader.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The old lady's pig is revealed to actually be her son, who was cursed by a witch to take a pig's form. He shows his human form in the castle, but still acts like a pig.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If Hans chooses to remain in the castle, he can never leave and can never see his mother again. If Hans discovers the false Count Lucanor before ascending the throne, he is able to send his mother a good portion of the fortune, allowing her to live well for the rest of her days. If he doesn't, it becomes more of a Downer Ending, as Patronio has successfully tricked Hans, and he forgets all about his mother.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The worm dies after eating the poisoned cake made by the false mother, and becomes a butterfly.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • If you don't get the crowbar, you're locked out of the best ending, because Hans can't get into the castle through the sewer to retrieve the treasure.
    • Subverted: If you didn't give the cheese to the goatherd you can find a giant rat in the sewers who helps you to get the treasure.
  • Chest Monster: Literally - the dungeon is full of fake chests which bite you if you try to open them.
  • Cutting the Knot: Rather than going through a series of deadly rooms to collect the letters of the Kobold's name, Hans can (provided he can gather enough gold to buy the key from the merchant) just sneak into the Kobold's room and spy on him for the information.
  • Dark World: After Hans falls asleep outside, he wakes up to find everything is red and bloody.
  • Dead All Along: J.F. - he died before Hans was born.
  • Dead Man Writing: The letters from J.F. are this once you discover that he was dead the entire game.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hans's father is, according to his mother, off fighting a war. Turns out he died a long time ago, and his mother just wasn't brave enough to say as much.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The merchant, having smashed his lord's wagon of goods and in danger of losing his life because of it, begs Hans to give him some gold to return to his lord. If Hans complies, he offers the merchant one of his three gold coins - and the merchant steals a second.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Red Camerlengo. "Camerlengo" is a archaic Italian word that translates as "chamberlain", though these days it's only used for an office of the Papal household.
  • Everyone Is Related:
    • Invoked by the false Count Lucanor - he tells Hans that his mother is actually the Count's daughter, Lucrezia, and that she ran away with his father, the soldier J.F., thus making Hans the Count's grandson. Ultimately averted when it's revealed that the count had actually been dead for centuries, and this was a trick thought up by Patronio in order to convince Hans to take the throne.
    • In the end it's not even clear whether the J.F. who was seeking entry to Count Lucanor's castle and leaving diary entries everywhere was indeed the same person as Joseph Frei, Hans's father.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A bell chimes at three o' clock, signaling that the servants and the Red Camerlengo are wandering around the castle, and that Hans must be careful in exploring.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Before you learn his name, Hans refers to Count Lucanor's servant as a kobold. In German folklore, this is a sort of spirit that haunts homes or caves. This alludes to the fact that Patronio is a spirit, bound to the castle.
    • The butterfly that covers the mother's face in the cutscene following Hans being found out by the kobold ends up coming back later on; if you feed the worm the poisoned cake, it turns into a similar butterfly, and then becomes the key necessary to get back in the castle at the end of the game.
    • When Hans wakes up after drinking with the goatherd, he will be surrounded by gravestones, with a raven perched atop of one. In one of the endings, Hans will learn that it's the gravestone of his father, Joseph Frei.
  • Golden Ending: Happened in one ending where Hans found Count Lucanor's secret treasure. Hans and his mother became rich enough and they managed to ask a witch to lift the castle's curse.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Invoked - if you choose to have the goatherd's animals kill the old woman and/or the pig man, the goatherd tells you to leave so that you don't have to see the ensuing carnage.
  • Helpful Hallucination: J.F. later becomes this; he gives Hans the bean that allows him to escape the dungeon area.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The servants and the Red Camerlengo - when Hans is too close to a servant, it removes its mask to reveal a tongue-like tentacle that extends to grab Hans.
  • I Choose to Stay: Hans, if he discovers Patronio's plan and decides to take the throne anyway.
  • Implacable Man: The Red Camerlengo.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Hans.
  • Losing Your Head: The goatherd gets ritualistically beheaded by his goats, but he's cool with it. And he gets better.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: How much of the game was real and how much was forged by Patronio is left up to the player's judgment.
  • Mind Screw: The whole game is pretty trippy, but two moments stand out: Firstly, at the beginning, when Hans falls unconscious (either due to getting drunk or being hit by a bird) and wakes up in a Dark World. Secondly, towards the end, when Hans discovers a bloodstained replica of his own house inside the dungeon of the castle, complete with a version of his mother which turns out to be the undead Lucrezia trying to kill him. The kicker on this second case is that you can equip the magic ring which reveals fake things - and neither the house nor the mother reads as fake, which has some unsettling implications.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the ending where Hans leaves the castle, all seems to be well, and he travels through the countryside happily, encountering his beloved dog and continuing on the path home, only to pass by the apple tree to find the merchant's corpse, hung from a branch with a note taped to his chest, reading "thief".
  • Mook Lieutenant: The Red Camerlingo is the head of the servants, although it seems even he is subservient to the Kobold.
  • Mook Maker: Lucrezia attacks by spawning worms.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • The Kobold's Trick: Hans does not see through the fake Count, and falls for Patronio's ploy, becoming the new Count. He is trapped in the castle forever, and while he has fun with his new life, he loses all memories of his previous life.
    • Pact with the Kobold: Hans exposes Patronio's lies, but agrees to become the new Count anyway in order to end the curse. In return, the now-human Patronio is convinced to donate the Count's wealth to Hans's mother, saving her from poverty, but Hans and his mother can still never see each other again.
    • Poor But Happy: Hans rejects the throne and Patronio begrudgingly but respectfully lets him leave. He goes back to his dirt-poor home with only whatever food and unused quest items he has in his inventory, but he and his mother (and dog) are reunited, he gets opportunities to save the goatherd from the war-draft and convince the old woman to stop abusing her pig, and his mother is happy with whatever he brought back.
    • Wealth Without Answers: Hans rejects the throne and leaves the castle without learning the truth of what was going on. Everything plays out much like Poor But Happy, except that he returns to the castle, finds a secret entrance, and uses his new jewelled butterfly to open the Count's tomb and find the treasure. Hans takes enough to make his mother rich, and optionally leaves the rest for Giulia, who rewards him with a Treasure Hunter's Certificate. The mystery of the castle becomes infamous, and many people subsequently visit it seeking answers, but none are ever heard of again.
    • Prosperous Future: Hans learns the truth and rejects Patronio's offer of a deal. Everything plays out much like Wealth Without Answers, except that Hans and his mother use their wealth to find a witch who can break the castle's curse, presumably freeing Patronio, and then buy the castle itself and live happily ever after.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Eisbein realizes his mistake if you have his mother killed like he asked you to and reacts accordingly.
  • My Name Is ???: The blue kobold is named as "???" at the beginning.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: The Count Lucanor apparently decided to leave his title and castle to whomever could overcome a series of deadly tests, and to leave his fortune to whomever could enter his tomb, the key to which was somehow transformed into a worm at some point.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The people from the garden are back outside the castle, acting as if nothing happened, but if Hans goes back for the treasure, Giulia is encountered, confirming that the game's events really did happen. Hans also keeps any items he found in the castle, and his mother will comment on them.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The dungeon is awash in blood when Hans arrives there, to the point of it spilling out of the drains. The vast majority of it seems to be coming from J.F., whose legs are gone and gushing ridiculous amounts of blood from the wounds.
  • Please Wake Up: Hans to J.F., when he eventually succumbs to his wounds and dies.
  • Point of No Return:
    • Once you correctly guess Patronio's name and follow him out of the room, you can't go back into the castle proper.
    • Once you climb up the red beanstalk, you can't go back into the dungeon.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Patronio.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Almost every enemy or scary creature has red eyes.
  • Running Gag: Giulia is always startled by Hans when he greets her. Apart from the one time he tries to do it on purpose.
  • Save Token: You must pay a gold coin to the raven in order for him to save your soul.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Hans if he decides to leave the castle.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Eisbein can become this if you choose to follow his wish and have his mother killed.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shmuck Bait: You are warned very early that the Red Camerlengo is extremely dangerous, and in one of your first encounters he attempts to bait Hans out of hiding by saying he'll give him Patronio's name. He doesn't even try to make himself seem non-threatening considering the blood oozing out of his eye sockets. Shockingly, he murders you instantly if he sees you.
  • Skippable Boss: Lucrezia (or what remains of her) is the nearest thing the game has to a Final Boss, but she will only attack if Hans falls for her trap in the dungeon.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Hans looks just like his mother.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You encounter three people on the road in the beginning of the game, and can help all of them by giving them items. This comes back to you later, as they will repay you for your kindness by giving you items to ease your journey.
  • Was Once a Man: Patronio - the count's curse turned him into a kobold. He can be seen in his human form in one of the endings.
  • Worm That Walks: All that remains of Lucrezia is an insane, shapeshifting Humanoid Abomination made out of worms.
  • You Gotta Have Pink Hair: Giulia.


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