Lenna’s Inception Review: A Little Co-Op and Random Maps in Your Zelda-Like?

by David Sanchez April 3, 2020 @ 1:56 pm

Reviewed on PC

Not too long ago, an unassuming Zelda-like titled Lenna’s Inception launched on PC. The game came out in January, to be specific, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about just how… magical the whole thing really is. Mechanically, it works really well and is a lot of fun to play. But it’s the un-Zelda-like qualities that are married to that Zelda-styled gameplay we’re familiar with that truly make it a standout, must-play title — things like procedurally generated worlds and two-player local co-op.

So Much for the Hero of Legend

You play as the titular Lenna, a teacher who’s unexpectedly dragged into a big, fancy quest after the legendary hero is killed before he can even get started on his journey. This hero is obviously meant to be a reference to Link of Zelda fame. Well, he’s out, so Lenna’s in.

Unlike The Legend of Zelda, Lenna’s Inception is more lighthearted, with cheery characters and a not-quite-as-apocalyptic tone. Yes, there’s still a quest of epic proportions and a devastated land, but there’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor to keep things from ever feeling too heavy.

A Land Ravaged by Evil… and Glitches

In Lenna’s Inception, crazy glitches are corrupting the land. This glitched landscape plays directly into the game’s procedurally generated world design. No two playthroughs are the same. And while you’re likely to enjoy certain map layouts more than others, there’s a high level of quality that keeps the maps from ever growing stale. I genuinely liked every version of the map I explored.

Like The Legend of Zelda, Lenna’s Inception mixes overworld exploration with dungeons. There’s a nice level of challenge, and exploring the different areas is great. The game is noticeably less puzzle-y than the series it’s influenced by, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s because the combat is rich and entertaining, with all kinds of weapons and abilities tucked away for you to find and use when fighting baddies.

A New Way to Zelda

The first time I played Lenna’s Inception, I went in completely solo. That’s definitely a great way to play, especially if you’re just looking for something to play in between Zelda games. That said, when you eventually unlock co-op play, it truly adds a new level of novelty to the otherwise familiar and beloved action-adventure formula that these types of games thrive on.

Playing this kind of game with a buddy in local co-op is a game-changer. There’s something inexplicably joyful about jumping into a Zelda-styled game with a friend. It’s just a shame that you can’t play co-op mode from the beginning — instead, Lenna’s Inception locks the two-player mode until you reach a certain moment in the game, which I won’t spoil here. If you want to play with a friend, just be aware that you won’t be able to do so right from the get-go.

Aside from the story component, Lenna’s Inception includes a bunch of extra modes to keep you coming back. You can play the game sped up, use specific weapons, challenge yourself with low health, and more. It’s worth noting that you’ll want to check in regularly as there are daily challenges that are fun and enticing to partake in.

More Than a Zelda-Like

The previously mentioned co-op play, dailies, and bonus modes are great, but there are also little things that really help Lenna’s Inception stand out. The graphics options for example, are very much welcome. You can play the game in 8-bit and 32-bit modes. It’s a little thing, but even this option invites multiple playthroughs.

There are also minor sidequests, like finding hidden books for a librarian, that may not be wholly original but still entice you to go out into the world and explore. The world in Lenna’s Inception is fully realized, and it’ll make you want to go out and discover cool new things during your travels.

I know I’ve referred to Lenna’s Inception as a Zelda-like a lot — that descriptor is fitting, yes, but it should be noted, emphasized even, that Lenna’s Inception deserves to be praised for its own merits. Yes, it takes huge inspiration from Nintendo’s iconic franchise. Even then, developer Bytten Studio has taken that inspiration and turned it on its head. The gameplay is tight, and the procedurally generated map works incredibly well. On top of that, the co-op mode and all the extra content make Lenna’s Inception a charming, worthwhile ride that you’ll want to revisit over and over again.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

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