Loot River has the best trailer I’ve seen in games for a long time. The combination of action and classic music, mixed with a little humour was absolutely perfect. This is a roguelite, with a hint of Souls. It’s a top-down pixel art, which is an interesting mix of action, adventure and Tetris-like gameplay.
Loot River is one of those surprising indie games. I’d not heard about it before it came out. You are a little character with a sword, and the idea is to progress through a variety of Dungeons. The twist is that the Dungeons are made of floating tiles, and you have to fit these tiles together at the same time as fighting off enemies. There is plenty of hacking and slashing, you have souls-like parrying and heavy attacks, plus plenty of loot and things to level up like armour and weapons. One false move and you’ll lose it all, so it’s high stakes, and often high pressure. It’s also great fun.
You can control the pieces on the floor with a quick tap of a button, locking the ground into the perfect position is only the first step, as you may have to evade an immediate incoming attack. There are enemies of all sizes to ranging from your small, annoying enemies to big bosses you really have to worry about.
This is a decent combination of two successful genres, plus something different in the roguelite and souls genre, which we have seen a lot of in the past 12 months. Moving around on your floor tile gives you the ability to choose when to engage in a battle. You’ll have to flip quickly between thinking about fitting the tile into the right shaped place, then either go on the offence or the defence quickly, depending on what’s in front of you.
The tiles offer up something new to combat. For example, you can rush in with your tile to a group of baddies, then pick them up a couple at a time afloat away to safety. Loot River’s interesting, new mechanics offer up some decent gameplay moments that are fun and challenging at the same time.
I’m a big fan of games with pixel art, and this does a great job throughout. The main character and the environments are very nice to look at, plus you have a range of enemies too. They include enemies that throw things at you, enemies with swords, and poisonous ones, there are lots of different types that will keep you on your toes.
There’s also a decent amount of variety with the weapons and magic. Combine these with artefacts and you’ve got a decent progression system in the game. This allows you to level up, grab the currency and build up your character’s stats through levelling up. There are specialist items like the Feather that teleports you quickly when you have landed the first hit in a fight.
There is a permanent progression of sorts in the game through weapons and magic you unlock through a currency called Knowledge. You can spend Knowledge back at the main hub between the levels, but the game doesn’t like to make it easy for you because even if you use Knowledge to unlock weapons and magic, the game jumbles everything up at the start of a run. You cash in Knowledge to widen the options, but that is about it… Careful too, because you’ll lose any Knowledge you haven’t spent when you die, so try and spend it as often as you can.
Loot River does have its roots in roguelites and Souls and given that it’s not a walk in the park. It’s a unique game, pulling together elements I wouldn’t have thought would work together very well, but somehow the dev team have made it work. The tiles bring a whole swathe of options to the game, they deliver you, new enemies, sometimes they deliver traps, and they always seem to deliver new challenges of some kind.
All being said and done Loot River is a decent game which you should check out. It does something new in a genre where often developers walk the safe path, and for that, the game has to be applauded. It doesn’t quite do everything right all the time, but then not many games do. The artwork is gorgeous, the audio is very good, and it’s a well-rounded package. I checked out the game on Game Pass on PC, it’s one of those I maybe wouldn’t have checked out if I didn’t have access to Game Pass, but ultimately I am glad I did. And you should too.
Publisher: Superhot Presents
Platform: Xbox, PC (reviewed PC via Game Pass)
Release Date: 3 May 2022