As a teenager, I spent countless hours exploring dungeons. Whether it was on a quest for gold, to save some fair maiden, or to slay some demonic force, my adventurer days wove wonderful tales that I created. Don’t mind the fact that all of these brave journeys had me slaying “k’s” (kobolds) and “O’s” (orcs) at my keyboard; they are days that I miss regardless of being a lone “@”.
If you are unfamiliar with Rogue-likes, allow me to briefly explain. Around the year 1980, a game called Rogue was developed that started the player on the top floor of a dungeon, with the ultimate goal of getting to the bottom to retrieve an artifact and return with it. The whole game was designed using ASCII characters to represent both the dungeon, the player, and enemies. Rogue is still quite popular to this day and has spawned a seemingly-endless amount of copies (aka, Rogue-likes). A personal favorite of mine due to its amount of depth (Rogue-likes are generally basic in design) is ADOM. Rogue-likes are typically suicidal games, with the hope of getting further and further each time you play, and since the dungeons are randomly generated, they offer great replayability.
Meet David Williamson, developer of PC game Hack, Slash, Loot. David has been developing games for the PC as an independent/hobbyist developer for quite some time. As if reading my mind, he pairs my love with dungeon crawling, Rogue-likes with another love of mine – pixelated graphics. Hack, Slash, Loot (HSL) looks like a Rogue-like from the early-console days, only sharper. Instead of the usual ASCII characters, HSL has very charming characterizations of the heroes and enemies.
You’ll get your pick from different characters, each with their own perks and flaws. More characters unlock as you die and complete games. The problem with this is the game’s difficulty and the starting characters. One would expect the difficulty of the game to come from mastering unlockable characters that, although more difficult to use, reward a higher level of playing skill. Instead, you start with basic versions of atypical classes and unlock better versions. The first character you unlock got me quite a bit further than any of the starting characters did.
Multiple scenarios are available. Each one features different environments and different enemies. One, for example, is littered with coffins that will randomly give you loot or a skeleton that will do some serious damage to you up close. A mini-map will help you on your quest to the next floor; the brilliant aspect of this little guide is that you can click anywhere on the mini-map that you have already explored and your little adventurer will scampers off across the pixel dungeon to where ever you clicked, which is such a time saver.
Loot is everywhere in HSL. The problem is that so much of it is specific to certain classes that it becomes tedious to even look at it. Who wants to pick up a wand when you are a Barbarian-type close-combat class?
The look of your sprite doesn’t change with the loot, which is understandable, though it would have been an amazing addition. Starting with leather garb and finding plate mail would have made me look as tough as I felt when enemies were doing little-to-no damage to me.
With a lack of character levels, upgrading your gear becomes the progression system in HSL, so it’s a very important factor and will determine how far along you get in your quest.
The brutal difficulty in the game can be off-putting so players that aren’t used to games like this. There’s also really nothing inventive to it to make it a must-play for newcomers and veterans of the genre. That said, for a $10 USD price on Steam, anyone looking to go on some difficult adventures into some dark dungeons can get their moneys worth with David Williamsons little gem, Hack Slash Loot.
- Whimsical graphics
- Loads of characters to pick between
- Great pricepoint
- Initial character selection
- Wasteful loot
- Difficulty can be steep for people that don’t play these types of games