I love the fact that modern gaming is complicated, far-fetched and as beautiful as anyone can imagine. Developers have free rein to create the world of their dreams, and most gamers desire big open landscapes to lose themselves in. Now, I also adore this concept, but I also want something that is simple, easy to try, and quick to play through. I invest a lot of my time in indie games as they scratch this itch for me, and my latest review title ticks these boxes and more. Loot Hero DX from developer Varagtp and publisher Ratalaika Games is as indie and retro as it comes.
This straightforward 2D side-scrolling adventure title asks you to control a heroic knight. His task is to overcome the fierce dragon that has taken over his lands. A tough task as our knight is nothing but a lowly weakling who struggles his way past the most basic of enemies. You must ram your way through your foes, collecting health potion, vials of invincibility and treasure on your way to increasing your stats, and destroying the end boss.
Basic levels match the main concept.
You must pass through 5 different lands; Woods, a volcano, swamplands, a jungle, and the dark forest. Each contains its own main boss, and a selection of unique creatures to overcome. On the final stage you will face down your nemesis, where you must be prepared to slaughter it without issue. Failure to survive does not mean game over, you do not lose your progress, and you don’t have to start the grind again. Losing your life ensures that you respawn, discarding some of your coins, while beginning again.
As you kill everything in your path, you will gain XP. This is used to increase your level, but oddly this has no impact on how strong you become. Statistics are increased by the money looted, and you have a choice of 4 options; Attack, Critical, Defence and Speed. Each plays a key part in success, and as the game is predominantly just running at your opponents until they die, there is very little in the way of strategy.
Grind, grind, and grind again….
The game starts by stating that success is earned by grinding through levels; they weren’t wrong! You will grind like you’ve never ground before. You’ll sprint up and down each stage like a headless chicken with a lance. Enemies fall to the wayside, spilling their precious loot for you to gather up. Once you have enough coin in your purse, you stop at one of the conveniently placed Ye Olde Shoppe’s en route, and choose the stat you wish to upgrade. Then the process begins again.
What happens when I finish it?
You have spent a matter of minutes levelling up; splurged your coin on your character, and you go face to snout with the red dragon. You ram into him repeatedly until his slain body lies beneath you, now what? Start again, that’s what! The levels increase, XP and money drops increase and you go through the whole process again. What’s the point? The game is completed, you’ve defeated the stinking dragon, surely the world is now safe? No, you have Feats to unlock for your pride. They show you to be the mightiest and toughest knight in the whole land, so you can’t walk away when they haven’t been unlocked.
In short, Loot Hero DX is a very easy game to complete. Most of the time you’ll not even think about what you are doing. It’s mindless fun that oddly doesn’t get boring. As your knight gets stronger, faster, and unstoppable, it’s addictive watching him bowl his enemies out of his way. You won’t be tested while trying this out, and very little skill is required to beat any opponent you face, but yet it sucks you in, and you find that you don’t want to put it down.
Retro graphics to match a retro theme.
Varagtp has created the perfect pixelated world for you to experience this retro ramming adventure title. Everything about this screams old-school, from the choice of tone and colour, to the art style for the sprites. Its basic approach should not have worked well on a large screen, yet it was a joy to play. The variety of backdrops were good, and each stage had a unique look that matched the description of the level. The details in the enemies could have been better, but you fly through them so quickly that it mattered not in the long run.
As you’d expect, the audio followed suit with this classic theme. The sound effects were understated, with the chinking of money being collected, and the thump of your weapon on heads being the highlights. An upbeat, synthesised soundtrack brought back many memories of early 90s gaming. It was reminiscent of Mega Drive RPGs like Shining Force with its inspirational and heart warming tunes.
Controls, what controls?
Life as a knight couldn’t be much simpler; choose your direction of travel, set your weapon, and run. This is the depth of difficulty that you will face you when you play this game. The hardest part was ensuring that you didn’t attack the end boss when you were grinding loot. If this happened, you wasted valuable seconds whilst you awaited the level to reload again.
For a game that can be completed in around 20 to 30 minutes, it has a lot of replay value. The achievement list is completed during that time, leaving you with very little to aim for, except for those Feats. You’ll have no real reason to keep playing, yet you will, as you want to see how easy it is to defeat the harder enemies, what loot they drop, and if you can destroy the dragon again. A simple concept that gets under your skin.
Retro gaming is champion again.
On paper, Loot Hero DX shouldn’t work. The length of playthrough, the extremely simple game mechanics, and the lack of fresh content after the first completion means that this should be terrible. However, I really loved it. It will not be recognised as a great, but it’s a nice game to have in your library to play casually. Do I recommend it? Of course, and if you want a copy, it can be purchased here. It’s time to become the hero and slay the dragon that is threatening your way of life.