Dying Is The Only Way To Learn In Lao’s Quest

Lao's Quest

After having died five times and arriving at the Game Over screen in Lao’s Quest on the first level, I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the game any time soon. You wanna play rough? Okay, I’m game.

Developer Scorpion Software says that Lao’s Quest is “a mix of Rick Dangerous (Amiga) and Kings Valley II (MSX),” and in fact, the purpose of the game is to get to the seventh and final temple in order to save Rick Dangerous from his ultimate doom. When you get there, you’ll play alongside the classic character…IF you get there. You want tough platformers? Lao’s Quest will keep you served for quite a while; every level is designed in a way that will kill you. But that’s fine; you just need to ensure you observe how and why you died each time to then perfect your run the next time around.

There’s no easy mode here, folks. It can’t exist in a game like this which relies on tricky level design to fool you, catch you off guard and send you into a panic. You’ve only got a few precious lives to toy with too, so be careful; otherwise, you’ll be reset to the very start of the game. Unless you have a passcode, of course. Oh, yes, passcodes. The pixel art isn’t just for show; Lao’s Quest may as well be a game from the Amiga era, especially with its digital warble chime of a jump sound.

Lao's Quest

Lao’s Quest feels very much like an Indiana Jones game at times. Take the first level, for example. The first thing you’ll have to do is jump over a spike pit. Secondly, a wall-mounted snake head will fire a large spear at you that needs to be jumped over. That will probably be your first death. Then there’s a ladder to climb, with spikes rather dauntingly poking out from the right-hand wall. Then a clear run to the exit ladder? Ha, don’t be so cute. A boulder will chase you all the way back to the start of the level.

“A challenging puzzle-platform game with tricky and ingenious level design! Jump, shoot, throw dynamite, blast walls and avoid spikes and loads of traps.”

This is the easiest level; it’s the first one. You’ll probably waste all of your lives here the first time. This is how tutorials should be (at least in some games); you learn from your mistakes. There are 70 levels in total, and they all take at least a couple of deaths to figure out and surpass. And even then, you’ll probably miss the hidden items and secrets scattered across the game. It’s clear that Scorpion Software have put a lot of love into Lao’s Quest.

Later levels have you snatching keys, using buttons to shift walls, throwing dynamite, dodging even more traps and stacking blocks to reach higher places…but even that’s a dangerous act. And, of course, you have that single-player co-op play with Rick at the end. If you appreciate intricate and deliberately tough, but fair, level design, Lao’s Quest can’t be recommended enough. Of course, it’s free too, so you’ve go nothing to lose, except your patience.

Lao's Quest