Dungeon games used to be a grim affair. They were dark, scary, and intensely challenging. Games such as ‘Baldur’s Gate’, a hallmark in early PC dungeon crawling, come to mind. In the modern day, however, dungeons have taken on a lighter feel. Now dungeons aren’t so horrifying! They can even include a sense of humor, as evidenced by games such as ‘Dungeons of Dredmor’, ‘Cardinal Quest’ and ‘Wazhack’. The genre has quickly become one of my favorites. So, I was super pleased to be introduced to ‘Heroes of Loot’: a dungeon, loot, and arcade hybrid game from developer Orangepixel.
My first shock in booting up ‘Heroes of Loot’ on my PC came when it presented me with one action button. While the arrow keys moved me around, X alone operated as a constant attack mechanism. No aiming was required to hit enemies. Rather, the attacks guided themselves, which was likely necessary due to the density and difficulty of the dungeons. Aiming to strike enemies would have been far too difficult and stressful otherwise, and would take away from the game’s brighter, more important points, such as its emphasis on loot. ‘Heroes of Loot’ is all about the loot.
Beyond the one action button mechanics, the rest of the game remains true to a sparse design and layout. Enemies die at your little pixelly hands and drop loot or runes. The loot gives you hot cash and runes give you magical powers which deteriorate as you use them. You can find shops and buy items, take on short quests, and save caged peoples. Beyond that, you’re just going to be killing baddies and gathering loot.
The experience is generally mindless fun. Hold down X or the action button on your touch screen and go to town. Don’t get me wrong, though—this is not an easy game. The deeper you dig, the harder it gets. And once you surpass a certain difficulty threshold, the game will not let you go back to an easier difficulty. Beyond that, there is no end in sight. The dungeons are literally endless, so don’t expect to beat the game. Just expect to keep delving into increasingly difficult dungeons.
Fortunately, these aspects come together really well. The game feels like half-shoot em’ up and half dungeon adventure. The quests, as well as some nicely hidden secrets, add a depth to the game that isn’t inherently there in the game mechanics. Enemies also can be pleasantly surprising in their design, with some offering ranged and AOE attacks which can alter the speed and strategy you take while speeding through the dungeons. All of these qualities, in conjunction with a dungeon design that invokes a pleasant lull and rhythm, makes for an enjoyable and endless dungeon excursion.
It is worth noting, however, that the endlessness and simplicity of ‘Heroes of Loot’ seems to be geared towards a mobile audience. Occasionally, I found myself enjoying a playthrough, dying, and walking away without a second thought about it. I know that after I finish this review, I will not be coming back for another game, likely because of my position of being a writer and partially because of the simple nature of ‘Heroes of Loot’. In contrast, if I was to own the game on a mobile device, I would be playing constantly. Spending 15-20 minutes with ‘Heroes of Loot’ on a commute would be a pleasant use of my gaming time. But when I’m sitting down in front of a computer or the OUYA device, there are more complete gaming experiences I want to enjoy.
In the end, we have a great mobile experience, but one that doesn’t hold up well on the non-mobile platforms.
You can pick up ‘Heroes of Loot’ for PC and Mac from Orangepixel’s official website for cheap. Otherwise, check it out on Ouya, the Google Play Store, and iOS. For more on Heroes of Loot you can also check out the official website.