Loot Rascals, developed by Hollow Pond, is a fun and vibrant indie title that draws inspiration for your usual dungeon crawler. Hollow Pond, who are British developers, inject some of the humour you can only find in Britain into this game, making it a rare and enjoyable roguelike indie. Its cartoonish design also makes it similar to the kind of show you would see on Adult Swim, alongside the quirkier shows on the channel.
You play as a space explorer, who is woken from hyper-sleep and is set on a mission to find Big Barry, after an accident has him missing, before you go off to find the ‘Liquid Anything’. On the way, you fight bizarre bad guys, and a weird-looking tentacled beast. Also, there is a presence called ‘The Thing Below’, who revives you when you die. The crazy story is one that is fun when paired with the humour throughout. However, this game is designed so that the plot takes a back seat, as you focus on the card-based gameplay, where you use collectible cards to build a deck from the cards that you loot (hence the name of the game, it’s all coming together now, eh?).
So, the gameplay works like this: the deck is made up of two columns, which consist of five cards each. You place cards that can add to attack or defense, boost the max HP, add bonus points to other cards or enable special elemental attacks. The deck needs to be well planned out, because the cards become more effective depending on where they are placed on the deck. That means that you should sit and think about card placement instead of just putting them anywhere. The game does a good job of explaining the different types of cards, so if I am not explaining it well enough, the game will give you a good explanation. What is really cool is that because this game is a roguelike, you will probably need a different deck per playthrough. As you are looting the cards, you might make your way though the level with a deck that just is not doing it for you, but that is the roguelike nature you will be getting yourself in to.
But, as previously mentioned, this does take inspiration from dungeon crawler games. When you have a turn, the enemies have a turn. As you move across the hexagonal grid, the enemies will move closer to you and there may initiate combat. What is really cool is that the is a day/night cycle in this game, meaning that depending on the time of day will change who initiates the combat. This creates an extra level of planning needed, as you start each level on 5HP. There are five, difficult levels to make your way though, and this game really stresses strategy. You will not be able to hack and dash your way though this one.
But, like many roguelike games, it feels like Loot Rascals also requires luck. There were multiple times where I took a beating from the enemies before there was a single offensive card dropped, which was insanely frustrating. Yeah, it adds that extra element to the game, but if you are playing a particularly difficult playthrough, the game just becomes rather taxing and really not that fun at all. Which is a shame, because when it was good, it was really good. Facing down over-levelled enemies is hard enough as it is, and I am not ashamed to say that I would restart when faced with a room that was just too difficult.
The aesthetic is great. This game has an art style I could see being on the television. It has a terrific soundtrack. But when you take in to account the hit and miss gameplay, it does knock the enjoyment of the game down a peg or two. There are better roguelikes and better dungeon crawlers out there, but if you play this one in short bursts, I think you will get some fun out of it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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