Few games have completely sold me on their concept quite like The Plucky Squire. Just five seconds into my hands-off demo session with co-director James Turner, I’m smiling from ear to ear as I watch protagonist Jot walk through the pages of a storybook in chapter four of the adventure. Then, after approaching a swirling portal on the corner of a page, the small hero becomes 3D and walks around a giant desk.
The switch from 2D to 3D throughout the demo continues to surprise and delight me, and it frankly never gets old. In one instance, for example, Jot jumps into a drawing that decorates a nearby surface thanks to three pig stickers that have been haphazardly stuck on each corner of the scrap of paper. Using the drawing as a makeshift bridge, he can then reach a shelf higher up in the 3D world, demonstrating how the two dimensions work together to present you with puzzle-like scenarios to progress.
From its charming artstyle, cute characters, and mix of genres, there are so many features and touches highlighted during the demo that have left me convinced The Plucky Squire is going to be one very magical adventure.
Words and wizards
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As the main character of a storybook world, you get kicked out of the pages of the book by antagonist Humgrump, who realizes he’s the villain of the story who’s destined to lose. With Humgrump now determined to rewrite the ending, Jot must fight back against the dark forces and restore the happy conclusion to the story. Beginning in chapter four, we follow Jot as he tries to secure a bow to progress to the next chapter. Jumping between the pages and the 3D world – which is a kid’s bedroom that’s home to Jot’s book – it’s immediately apparent that there’s so much variety on offer from the two-dimensional worlds.
In the book, for instance, Jot is able to pluck a word from a sentence on the page, hop out of the book to turn the pages, and jump back into place it down in another paragraph elsewhere. As Turner tells us, you might sometimes find a word that has no use in the location you’re in, but it may become apparent where it needs to be placed on a later page. It’s such a creative and theme appropriate way to incorporate different puzzle scenarios, but it’s just one example of many magical ways this feature brings the sense of adventure to life.
The first thing that struck me about The Plucky Squire is its homage to a mishmash of genres. Back in the 3D world, Jot comes across a card that looks like a Magic The Gathering card. It happens to be home to an elf ranger with a bow, which just so happens to be the weapon Jot needs. Jumping into the card kickstarts a turn-based battle inside of it, with Turner nodding to the likes of Pokemon for inspiration. On another occasion, Jot’s jump between 2D and 3D changes up the scenery to a side scrolling segment to once again demonstrate the mixing up of genres.
The Plucky Squire is also home to a number of mini games you can encounter throughout, bringing yet more variety to the experience. The one I see is a reactive time-based game that has Jot trying to grab a little slippery fish that just won’t stay still. The fish is just one of the many encounters you can have with your trusty party members, Violet and Thrash, who tag along in your bid to restore the happy ending.
One of the great joys of The Plucky Squire is all of the little details that decorate the 2D and 3D worlds. Whether it be text on the page describing a small frog observing a lily pad that’s then illustrated, or a giant battery on the desk that shows off how small Jot is, both sides are so well thought out, with little touches that keep you smiling throughout.
Turner explains that the team really wanted to make sure The Plucky Squire is approachable and can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. It’s why, for example, you can find a tiny wizard by the name of Mini Beard who will give you hints if you’re stuck on a puzzle or can’t work out how to progress.
By the end of my session, I’m left with an overwhelming desire to see more of its delightful world and see what other inventive ways the team use its fun 2D to 3D jumping feature. One thing’s for sure: The Plucky Squire is without a doubt one of my most anticipated games for 2024.
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