Friday, January 31, 2014

3 days of...Hack, Slash, Loot!

The Humble Rogue-like Bundle: Game 1

I'm a big fan of both Rogue-likes and charity. So when I read that The Humble Bundle store would be supporting both this week, I was on board 110%. I picked up the 5 games: Hack, Slash, Loot!, Paranautical Activity, Binding of Isaac, Sword of the Stars: The Pit, and Dungeons of Dredmor.

So this week, I'll be picking a different one of those games to play. If I weren't so busy I would have played and reviewed all of them so you could pick the package up for yourself. Unfortunately, I don't have that amount of time on my hands, so I'll just be doing the next best thing, reviewing them, and giving my suggestion on which of them are worth paying full price for (definitely 3 out of the 5 I can tell you now).

Hack, Slash, Loot!

When I pulled Hack, Slash, Loot! up from Steam, the first thing that greeted me was the 8 bit sound effect of a sword slash and then a wonderfully epic composition that was made for this game. I enjoyed the music quite a bit, when it was playing, which isn't all the time during your dungeon crawl. The sound effects in-game aren't quite as resounding as I'd like them to be, especially considering the cavernous environments the game gives you. However they do conform to the 8-bit character design that plagued this last 5 years (when everyone does 8-bit it's not indie-retro, it's just lazy). I just wish there was more than the boorish sound effects after the single song plays its course and then abruptly stops.

This happened more often than it should have.
The character selection screen gives you a chance to choose between 3 classes and several missions. Gladly the characters all start with different abilities, and the levels are all quite different as well, including different enemies. The characters look as clean and well designed as 8 bit characters can look, and the UI is easy to understand, and user friendly. It exudes quick-play sessions at it's core, and encourages you to pick up and let go of it easily.

My problems with Hack, Slash, Loot! arise when I pick it up, and then immediately am slaughtered by a horde of goblins in the next room from the starting room. I don't understand or seem to be able to differentiate whether or not one mission is more difficult than another, but it seems that rats and zombies in the tombs are much easier to survive than a single dwarf in the mountain mission. Finding the first piece of equipment or enchantment to keep you alive is vital, and I found myself dying many times before I was able to gain a foothold and push past even the first level.

Enchantments and Equipment, that is what determines your ability to survive, not your cunning. I say this because you only have 2 things you can do, attack and move. Moving is a single square/turn effort, and attacking depends on your weapon, but there aren't any special abilities to handle large groups or increase your survivability. This is especially troublesome with the wizard, as you can essentially die after 3 hits from any enemy. I might have enjoyed a secondary ability for each character that made combat more interesting, or just something else to do besides move and shoot.

This character is the only one
that got past level 1
Hack, Slash, Loot! reminds me of dungeon-crawling games past, where you push your way through a randomized rooms full of perils, and rely on your determination and quick-thinking to make it through. Unfortunately many of the things that made great rogue-likes (ie, Nethack, Moria, Rogue, Dwarf Fortress) have been stripped down to their most basic functions, to create a game that ultimately feels unfinished. This could have been an early alpha awaiting features for what could end up to be a great rogue-like, unfortunately it falls short and becomes more of a chore than a game.

You'll like this game if: You enjoyed old school rogue-likes, but desired a friendly user-interface and dumbed down mechanics.

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