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The Plucky Squire is the Zelda: Link Between Worlds follow-up I’ve been craving

An archer readies an arrow in The Plucky Squire.
Devolver Digital
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Of all the indie games set to release in the back half of 2024, The Plucky Squire has to be at the top of my list. I’ve been interested in the Devolver Digital-published project ever since its reveal thanks to its perspective-shifting gameplay. Players run through the pages of a storybook in 2D, but jump out of it to solve puzzles in the 3D world around it. It’s one of those design hooks that immediately catches my eye, but I always have to stop and wonder if an idea like that will end up playing as a cute gimmick.

Thankfully, I’m not worried about that with The Plucky Squire. During a 45-minute preview at Summer Game Fest, I got a much better ideas of how much gas developer All Possible Future has in its tank to power its premise. The slice I played already teased an adventure full of surprises that should make it as charming as I’m hoping it’ll be.

Off the page

My adventure begins a few hours into the full game in a truncated chapter with a few puzzles removed for the sake of time. During that time, I’d get to get a feel for both The Plucky Squire‘s 2D and 3D gameplay, and the way that those two ideas intersect. First, I’d start in the pages of a book. These sections play out like a standard top-down adventure where I control a little hero with a moveset not so far off from Link’s. I can slash enemies, spin attack, and even perform a sword plant. In the first half of my demo, I’d chop down some enemies and find keys in some simple platforming puzzles.

All of that is made fresher by the 2D art style, which makes it look like I’m walking across a storybook. You can even see the crease of the book’s center running down the screen. It’s a cute touch that makes an otherwise simple Zelda-like feel a little more distinct. Bright colors help with that too, though it does look more like a video game and less like an illustration come to life.

A character slashes a snake with a sword in The Plucky Squire.
Devolver Digital

The demo really picks up when I reach an unpassable barrier in the book. To stop a spinning death trap blocking a path, I need to step outside of the book. Suddenly I’m in full 3D as I walk around the desk the book is on. I find myself in a little hub area filled with NPCs before finding my task: I need to find three “dad shards” to reassemble a face printed on a mug and get a useful reward. After nabbing a jetpack power-up to help me traverse, I’m off to the races as I track down three puzzles in the world hidden between some platforming.

While The Plucky Squire takes a lot of inspiration from classic Zelda games, the most important influence is the Nintendo 3DS title The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. While platforming in 3D, I occasionally find a flat surface that I can warp into. One 2D section has me climbing up to an unreachable ledge by jumping my way up a piece of paper, dodging falling obstacles as I moved to the top.

That gets even more clever later on. After finding all three dad shards via short puzzles (one has me finding hidden candles in 3D and lighting them with my jetpack’s flame), I take everything back to a glass mug. I can jump inside that, allowing me to run across the entire cup in 2D. I get a surprise when I bring the shards there: I’m suddenly plopped into a side-scrolling space shoot-’em-up entirely on the mug. It plays out like Resogun, with me clearing waves of enemies that pop up around the circular object. Though the sequence goes on a little long, it’s a cute surprise that shows me just how creative All Possible Futures is getting here. I’m already wondering how else the developer can warp reality.

A space shooter wraps around a mug in The Plucky Squire.
Devolver Digital

After all my adventuring, I get a stamp for my troubles. I take it back to the book and place it down on the spinning obstacle still on the page. That jams it, allowing me to jump right back into 2D and run past it. Moments like that connect the two distinct gameplay halves, making for a coherent sequence.

With All Possible Future estimating that The Plucky Squire will likely take players over 10 hours, I’m hoping that the full adventure keeps that momentum up. It’ll need to keep iterating on that dynamic enough to make sure it doesn’t wind up feeling like a light gimmick. The standard fantasy story doesn’t seem like it’ll elevate it too much, so its up to the developers’ creativity. So far, I’m hopeful that The Plucky Squire will stick the landing and get its storybook ending.

The Plucky Squire launches later this year for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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