I die. A lot. In all types of games, but especially in Loot Rascals. Thanks to its precious art style and bubbling colors though, I can never stay away for long.
In the game you play as an astronaut looking for a lost piece of robotic terraforming equipment. What was supposed to be a routine mission turns into a brutal Groundhog’s Day of death and destruction after crash landing on a planet leaves you at the mercy of a malevolent alien force and the locals who resemble the cast of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends and have a penchant for punching you in the face.
The planet surface is broken up into a hexagonal grid. Moving one space or performing an action takes a turn. While everything feels like its happening in real time, actual actions can only occur during these discreet intervals. A day and night cycle also moves along as you do so, with monsters having a different stat depending on what time it is. As you defeat monsters by intercepting them on the same hex, they sometimes drop cards which you can equip to increase your defense and attack or add special cool down abilities like a long range fireball.
For the most part, this is the extent of the game’s mechanics. Levels need to be completed in so many turns, meaning there’s an incentive to stay long enough to grind for good cards but not too long before finding the portal that lets you exit to the next level. Since its a roguelike, dying sends you back to the very beginning with all of your loot stolen by whatever creature killed you (hence the name).
And this will happen a lot. Levels are randomly generated, and while you tend to see weaker monsters early on, the game has no qualms about throwing much stronger ones at you as well. As you partner back at the base will be sure to remind you, it’s perfectly fine to skip these encounters and just make a mad dash for the exit, but really, where’s the fun in that? If a hulking, furry ogre has an attack stat of 15, surely he’s got to have something good, right?
In that regard, the player is as much a loot rascal as anyone else. While I have yet to beat the game, part of the fun is just basking in the whimsical chaos, like reading a children’s bedtime story and being able to descend into the pages of the illustrations and mess around with stuff. Developed by a studio called Hollow Ponds, the game is as much a relaxing Saturday morning cartoon, filtered through a uniquely British sense of wit and charm. At times it almost feels like playing an animated episode of Doctor Who if it were directed by Wes Anderson.
No progress carries over, so unlike Rogue Legacy, or even FTL: Faster Than Light which had unlocks, every attempt at the game leaves you completely on your own and at the mercy of the game’s internal dice rolls. This can be frustrating at times, and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but the game’s simplicity and quick flow makes picking your astronaut up and dusting her off inviting enough. The rest of the time it was I was content to sit at the opening menu screen and listen to the game’s serene space melodies.