Keep those dungeons fast and random
I’ve played my fair share of dungeon-crawling roguelikes, with their turn-based tales of slow, tight progression, treasure a-plenty, and endless floors of bloodthirsty enemies. Heroes of Loot, then, is something just that little bit different – it’s essentially what happens when you cross a roguelike with a twin-stick shoot ‘em up.
As it turns out, this is quite the recipe for success. Heroes of Loot is fast-paced, frantic, exciting, and perfect for picking up, having a quick blast, and then going back to your daily routine – or, you know, just playing over and over again for an hour or three. If you enjoy your dungeon-crawlers, you should get a load of this.
You are one of four heroes, sent into a never-ending dungeon to create a bit of a rabble. By killing enemies and grabbing gold, you’ll attract more and more baddies to the dungeon, and make it far more dangerous. Which is apparently a good thing, according to the dungeon owner!
The dungeons are randomly generated, such that each playthrough is different – as you’d expect from a dungeon-crawler. What you might not expect, however, is that the game plays out completely in real-time. That is, there’s no turn-based action here; instead, the enemies are constantly approaching, and you’ll have to fight them off twin-stick style.
The game creates a virtual joystick wherever you touch the screen, and a “button” on the bottom right shoots axes, arrows, magic, or whatever your current class has up their sleeve. The controls are really solid, and let you get on with holding the hordes back, rather than worrying where your fingers are.
The action itself is wonderful. You start off killing skulls and bats, and eventually zipping about the place, keeping as safe as possible from giant, smashing beasts and rabbles of evil creatures. Imagine a bullet-hell shmup set in the tight confines of a dungeon, and you get an idea of what to expect with Heroes of Loot.
Along the way, there are plenty of bits and pieces to fiddle with. Shops supply one random item each, and secret areas can be found by pushing your way through a seemingly-solid wall. Meanwhile, magical runes allow you to go full-on crazy powerful, with lightning bolts and infernos blazing from your hero to kill anyone around you.
And Heroes of Loot has a gorgeous style. The pixel-art is nice enough, but the way the game carries itself is just sublime – from the short and genuinely hilarious “cutscenes,” to the rousing soundtrack, the fun characters, and the silly dialogue, it’s very much a neat package if ever I’ve seen one.
There’s a balancing issue coursing through Heroes of Loot that you don’t really notice at first, but which soon rears its head. The first dozen, two-dozen floors aren’t too difficult at all, and I found that I could pretty much run my way through them with little resistance. Then suddenly, around floor 26 or so, I met with a large creature, and died almost immediately – I barely had a second to realize what had killed me!
The “dungeon difficulty” also hangs around after you’ve died, so when I started again, this time around the difficulty was much higher. This is actually a pretty great idea, as it means that it scales to the player’s skill level – but at the same time, I still found that the difficulty would spike randomly, and whenever I died, it was an “all of a sudden” thing, rather than a gradual downfall.
Notably, the game is also very much a one-track experience; once you’ve played it through a few times, it doesn’t feel like there’s much more to see. The item pick-ups are minimal and quite shallow, and dungeons and enemies all begin to blur into one. This does allow you to focus more on the blasting-blasting-blasting, but those people looking for a deeper experience are unlikely to discover it.
Heroes of Loot will pull in both dungeon-crawling fanatics and twin-stick obsessives in equal measure, with its fast-paced, randomly-generated action. You’ll never reach the end of the dungeon, but you’ll have plenty of fun trying to find it.