Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hack Slash Loot

Hack Slash Loot comic
Basically sums up my first 5 minutes playing
Claiming ancestry from the ancient realm of Roguelike games, David Williamson's Hack, Slash, Loot, features similar mechanics and a pixel art style neatly wrapped with nostalgia. With a permadeath system similar to my previous post (The Binding of Isaac), this turn-based dungeon crawler has procedurally-generated levels, keeping gameplay fresh throughout every playthrough. However, Hack, Slash, Loot's dependence on luck to the player forces multiple tries to land that perfect playthrough, which can be a major turn-off for many players.



Roguealike
Rogue, a popular precursor to dungeon crawlers
The term Roguelike refers way back when to the 1980s, the "golden age" of dungeon-crawl games. Created around the same time, Rogue was particularly special, since its ASCII design allowed the game to be played on non-graphical interface. Each monster is denoted by a letter, for example Z is for zombie, and the character moves among levels made up of lines and dots, picking up items and weapons on the way. Every level is randomly generated each time the player progresses further downwards through the dungeon, and this creates a situation of risk-reward when opening doors either full of treasures or crammed with enemies. Rogue directly inspired a slew of different titles during its time, with such names like Hack, Nethack, and even later, Diablo.


Hack Slash Loot
Lootin' all day, err' day
Hack, Slash, Loot's absolutely fantastic art style lends well to its Roguelike nature, with a tidy combat system to boot. Because the gameplay isn't all that innovative, seeing as it was developed some 30 years ago, Hack, Slash, Loot's charm lies with its atmosphere and presentation. That being said the game makes itself stand out in a unique way. Each stage comes with a general goal and theme, such as fighting on progressing floors of a wizard's tower to kill the evil wizard at the top, or traveling a dangerous road infested with enemies to reach a legendary city. Given this, the game lends itself more of a purpose than just a story of point A to point B to kill the dragon with every playthrough. In addition, Hack, Slash, Loot has a wonderful equipment system, and throughout the level players can pick up helmets, armor, weapons, trinkets, and boots among other things. While standing above a piece of equipment, the player can mouse over the popup above the character's head, and the changes to each stat will be represented in the interface down below, an incredibly useful feature. Each piece of equipment changes your stats in minute ways, and players will have no problem optimizing for their specific roles. For instance, picking up a shield will lower your magical powers, but will significantly increase your defense, while a certain helmet might make you resistant to necrotic damage, yet make you vulnerable to lightning attacks. 


Hack Slash Loot gameplay
Amazon takes a stab at Edward Cullen
Though the gameplay isn't anything ground-breaking, Hack, Slash, Loot introduces some neat mechanics that spice up combat. Every attack in the game also carries some type of attribute, be it Holy, Necrotic, Lightning, or Poison damage, to list a few. Some enemy types will be resistant to particular attacks while others will deal incredible amounts of damage. For example, undead enemies will be vulnerable to holy attacks while being resistant to poison or necrotic damage. This introduces a tactical element to the game and forces the player to pick between a high-damage axe to a low-damage sword with favorable stats. This goes hand in hand with each thematic level, as a level fought in a crypt will feature different enemy types than a level defending against enemy invaders. The game also excels in the simply massive amount of unique loot offered to the player. A staggering amount of equipment is loaded with each level, and the randomly generating nature of the game keeps the player guessing as to which kind of boots would bring the most benefits. To add onto this, some rare items will grant unique passives to the player. A passive named "Shadeform" will allow the player to phase through the first layer of wall, and make ranged attacks deal marginal amounts of damage. However, items with this passive have incredibly low defensive stats, and will make hand to hand combat an exacting task. Added on to this, picking appropriately resistant armor is absolutely key to making it past certain levels. Every player will find out that getting poisoned means certain death if the player isn't properly equipped. However, this mechanic makes the game unfair in the aspect that if the player doesn't chance across a key piece of equipment, he is almost certainly doomed if he is crossed by a poison-wielding orc.

Hack Slash Loot gameplay
A room full of enemies and no hope to survive
Hack, Slash, Loot does not feature a noteworthy combat system, and most battles will boil down to a right-clicking frenzy while hoping your character avoids taking damage. Additionally, the game hamstrings itself by using a turn-based system for every single enemy visible by the player. Being stuck in a massive room filled with enemies might mean waiting a couple seconds for every single enemy to make menacing movements towards you, making gameplay choppy during various parts of the game. Being able to pick up AI-controlled allies may be a neat mechanic, but once you reach over 3 allies at a given time, simply making it across the room can take longer than you might expect. Coupled with an insanely steep skill curve, Hack, Slash, Loot further cripples its own gameplay experience by basing a large amount of every playthrough on luck by which pickup the game offers the player during the early stage. In fact, a large amount of my playthroughs have ended even in the first room I spawned in.


Hack Slash Loot
Different classes available to spawn in
What this game taught me was that life is most often unfair. Being spawned next to a poisonous scorpion is an apt indication of how this game presents itself. However, with all procedurally generated video games featuring permadeath, I very readily accept a great number of pathetically weak playthroughs for those incredibly epic rampages that I so much enjoy. Featuring a character unlock system that integrates how many deaths the player has suffered, I have all the more reason to click the play button again and again after every crushing defeat. Though Hack, Slash, Loot certainly isn't the best of games even in its own genre, it very well might be damn good enough to steal an evening or two away.


Freshness Rating: It hurt so good :')






Official Website

9 comments:

  1. For things like this, you might want to post a link to the actual game. Just a heads up.

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    1. Thanks for the input!

      Yeah everything should be up in a couple days

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Awesome game ! Could you please check FarmVille 2 Hack

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