Guest Author - James Shea
A "roguelike" with retro 8-bit graphics, "Hack, Slash, Loot" certainly lives up to its name.
"Hack, Slash, Loot" is a game about dungeon delving, similar to games like Rogue, ADOM, and more recently Dungeons of Dredmor. In it, you take control of a character and see how far down you can delve through the dangerous dungeons before your life is ended by a monster or trap. It's a turn-based RPG in the sense that every time you make a move, so does everything else in the dungeon (i.e. if you move a space, everything else gets to move a space too).
The game starts you with 3 classes, though 27 others are eventually unlockable through either dying repeatedly or beating quests. The classes have very minor stat differences, but the gameplay is so simple that it's almost entirely cosmetic as a result. There are multiple quests available, each with their own general theme ("fighting demons" versus "invading a mage's tower", for example), but that basically manifests itself in the enemies that appear.
The only "stats" in the game come from your equipment, which is the standard RPG setup of "right hand weapon", "left hand item", and then armor or clothing for different parts of your body. Your outfit affects your stats, and as you find new armor or weapons in the dungeon there's a pretty simple "compare this with what I'm currently wearing" stat comparison to make things easier. There's no inventory - food you find is consumed immediately.
Combat basically comes in two forms: in melee combat, you try to find a chokepoint so you can take on hordes of enemies one at a time. In ranged or magical combat (they basically act the same), you try to keep as much distance between yourself and your enemies as you can. Despite the 30 different classes, this basically describes the entirety of the game's tactical options, since attacking (in any form) is just "click on the enemy". That's normal for roguelikes, at least, but the stats are so simple that it just doesn't really work as a thinking exercise. You can find allies in the dungeon, but they aren't really controllable, they just use standard enemy AI but they're on your side.
The graphics are cute, but really not that great. The 8-bit theme works pretty well, but it's really not interesting enough on its own to be worth it. Each class has a different sprite, but the sprites don't change to reflect your equipment or anything like that, so it's really just sort of a distraction at most. The music is really nice, being similar to something like A Link To The Past in terms of its composition and tone, but it doesn't really salvage the experience.
"Hack, Slash, Loot" would be a good game if it was free, and an okay game if it cost a dollar or two. For $7 on Steam, "Hack, Slash, Loot" is a total ripoff. It lacks the really interesting parts of most Roguelikes and tries to make up for it by having better graphics. It didn't really work for Dungeons of Dredmor, and it definitely doesn't work here.
We purchased this game with our own funds via Steam.