[Colin Brown of The Backlog Journey profiles the currently running April Fools Bundle, from the IndieGames’ co-created site Indie Royale. Next up is Hack, Slash, Loot developed by Gooey Blob, which is available on PC, Mac, and Linux and is debuting on Steam.]
If developers keep using titles like Hack, Slash, Loot, then pretty soon I’m going to be out of a job. It’s exactly what it says! You hack, you slash and you do a ton of looting. But I’ll do my best to try to elaborate.
The roguelike was once the definition of niche; proto indie developers were tapping away at hundreds of variations on Rogue way before indie was hot. But somehow, the recent rise of indie developers has led to a bit of a renaissance. Did anyone ever think that roguelikes would become some of the most popular indie games of last year? Probably not, but here we are today with another contender for the indie roguelike crown, Hack, Slash, Loot.
Most roguelikes fall somewhere on a sliding scale between casual, easy to play outings and hardcore, brutally difficult adventures, with old school ASCII releases a la NetHack on the hard end, and newer, more forgiving fare like Cardinal Quest on the easy side. Hack, Slash, Loot definitely skews towards the easier to grasp side, but is closer to the middle of that scale than you think. It’s got some brutally difficult moments and is heavily influenced by luck and random chance. Placement is more important than anything, and you need to worry constantly about bottlenecks and being surrounded. In other words, it’s exactly what roguelike fans have come to expect.
The easy to grasp part of the game comes from the excellent and straightforward UI, and the simplification of the entire game. Everything is visualized in a great looking pixel art aesthetic, and the interface is entirely mouse driven with optional keyboard shortcuts. The game clearly labels everything you hover over and how you can interact with it, as well as providing a fairly detailed stat biography of each monster you highlight. Loot and healing is very straightforward too; if you see something, you can immediately see what it will upgrade and what bonuses will be added. If you like your shiny new piece, you just throw the old one away. No gold, no storage, just fire and forget loot principles. Same goes for scrolls and potions, which are used right away. There’s no upper cap for your HP so there’s nothing to waste. It’s fast, it’s simple and it might rub hardcore roguelike enthusiasts the wrong way, but newbies will appreciate the ease of use.
I’ll be honest, the simplicity and fairly straightforward gameplay would probably bug me a bit too, except that the game injects some neat innovation by mixing things up in terms of classes and dungeons. There are just three base types of classes, but over thirty-two in total with most locked. These slowly unlock the more you die or finish the game, and are more powerful and more specific versions of the base fighter/archer/wizard trifecta. It’s not too deep, but is quite varied and helps to ease up on the challenge level for those who need it. As for dungeons, the game comes with six default quests. Some of these simply affect your goal and what enemies you’ll see, but others completely shift the style. My favourite is a battle set in a castle, where NPCs run around panicking and trying to regroup, with demons converting dead humans into slaves if you don’t rescue them in time. It’s still randomly generated, but allowing you to choose the flavour of dungeon ahead of time offers some great variation on the default roguelike hodge podge setting.
If you’re looking for a quick, shallower roguelike you can pick up and drop over an hour or less, Hack, Slash, Loot should fit your bill. It’s easy to learn, less time consuming than games like Dungeons of Dredmor and a little more challenging than titles like the aforementioned Cardinal Quest. With the great graphics and interface, Hack, Slash, Loot manages to squeeze challenging gameplay into a casual nook of a hardcore niche.
[Hack, Slash, Loot; Defense Grid and three other titles are available now in The April Fools Bundle on the IndieGames’ co-created site Indie Royale.]