Leo's Fortune started out life as a mobile platformer, released on the Apple Store and for Android in 2014. Even back then it was clear that 1337 & Senri LLC had a little gem on their hands and fans immediately begged for it to be brought to their next-gen console, so that they could spend more time with protagonist Leo.
Leo's Fortune on Xbox One does not disappoint. The premise of the game is fairly simple - players must guide our protagonist Leopold, the Grand Inventor of Greatest Engineering, through trap and puzzle-laden levels to uncover the mystery of his stolen fortune, collecting the trail of gold coins along the way. Leo is a mercurial teal green ball of fluff with a moustache that Tom Selleck would be proud of. He is obviously adorable - though we sincerely doubt that Leo would appreciate that description - and it is immediately impressive how much his personality shines through during the introductory lines of dialogue. He may be a ball of fluff but Leo has some very human complexities and his success has brought him much good fortune but left him distrusting of those he deems close. In turn, throughout the game, he suspects members of his own family of pilfering his wealth, which is the driving force and ultimately the moral of the story. We will not spoil the details of his investigation too much, suffice to say that for a small, mobile platformer Leo's Fortune tells a story as well as anything else out there. It is by no means award-winning fare but it is different enough to never become cliche, which in a world of sequels and reboots, makes a refreshing change.
Leo's adventure is played out across five acts, which in turn contain a small handful of lovingly handcrafted levels. Each chapter's world has its own unique theme and characteristics, ranging from Cousin Victor's rain-soaked, ship-filled port, to the crumbling desert ruins of Aunt Olga's once great and proud cities. The backgrounds that already looked beautiful on mobile really shine now that they have been rendered in 1080p on console, making each level a treat to explore. Not since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog have we found ourselves so excited to see what theme the next set of levels might expose us to. The levels themselves are the perfect length, running long enough to soak up the atmosphere but not so short that they fail to be impactful. The music and voice acting throughout are all superbly done and only serve to enhance the experience. It is genuinely fun to hear Leo mutter to himself about a difficult trap and cry out in gleeful fear as he is tossed far through the air. These small utterances make our protagonist and the world feel alive and its truly a joy to behold.
Each level consists of traps and puzzles through which Leo must navigate in order to reach the end. Gameplay is simple, in so much that Leo slides from one side of the screen to the other while performing a couple of core moves in order to be able to jump, traverse and navigate the level. By puffing up his fluff into a balloon, Leo can jump and also float. By compressing himself into a smaller, flat ball, he can fit through gaps and activate weight-based obstacles. The controls are easy to master and traversing the levels quickly becomes second nature. The control that the player has over Leo, even when he floats, is impressive and never once did we feel as though he was not responding well to our prompts. The puzzles that occasionally block the path are all physics-based and rely upon the player manipulating the environment using Leo's set of moves. As with most platform puzzle games, they start off simple and gradually increase in difficulty as the game progresses. The same can be said about the traps that litter the levels. Mostly consisting of spikes, saws and thorns, they can be avoided by timing Leo's moves and jumps or simply sliding along the level in a steady flow. The latter stages provide some difficult challenges that may take a while to master and have a serious impact upon Leo's death count but overall, the learning curve seems fair and you feel a nice sense of accomplishment when you complete a level without perishing once.
Each level has a set of three golden stars that the player can achieve. The first is obtained by collecting all of the coins, which is easily done on most (if not all) of the levels. The second gold star is granted if you complete a level without hitting a trap and causing Leo harm, which can be challenging when faced with some of the trickier sequences. The third is granted for beating a set time. It is unlikely that you will achieve all of the gold stars in your first playthrough, so replayability comes in as you try to master the levels, should the completionist in you want to have a perfect tally of shiny stars. There is no in-game requirement for this however and you do not need to master every level in order to progress, which will appeal to more casual players. However, collecting a small amount of stars does unlock some enjoyable (yet challenging) bonus levels and so it may be worth hunting some of them down. For the competitive player, there's a Hardcore Mode and also time-based leaderboards which - upon inspection - seem to hold fair and realistic times so are far from off-putting.
Leo's Fortune is platforming as it should be and is definitely reminiscent of a time gone by, when little blue hedgehogs and Italian plumbers adventured across the screens in games that were as simplistic as they were enjoyable. There is enough variety in Leo's adventure to keep it fresh as the game progresses and the overall length, while shorter than we may have come to expect from modern games, will leave you wanting more.