Hello and welcome to ‘The Twelve Games of Christmas’, a highlight reel of some of my (Dann Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief) favourite games of 2017. As regular readers will know, we’re extremely eclectic in our tastes here at B3; hopefully these little suggestions, essentially recommendations, will match that. Enjoy!
Loot Rascals is flipping good fun.
Before all else it’s a roguelike, however unlike most of its contemporaries it is extremely accessible. The entire combat mechanic is based around Day & Night, or Offence and Defence. Each of the entertainingly named and wonderfully drawn monstrosities that stalk the planet you’re exploring are either nocturnal or diurnal. When they’re at their strongest, their mood is aggressive and they strike first. When they’re out-of-cycle they’re slower to react and you get the first hit.
That’s the vast majority of the Loot Rascals’ combat system explained. The aim of the game is really to kite enemies until they are weak, then get the first hit in and destroy them. On occasion a defeated enemy drops a card; these cards are how your character progresses in lieu of any RPG mechanics.
Cards fit onto a grid of ten, either as defensive or offensive cards. Once again, nonsense is the byline for the items and their descriptions, but due to the clear UI it’s obvious what each does — a simple number value and colour indicates what they add to your offensive or defensive stat. Where it gets interesting is that some of these have modifiers. These change cards’ value based on the rules on each card. For example, one may have ‘Only One +2’ and ‘Top Row +2’ on the card — this grants an additional four power if it’s both the only instance of that card and is placed in one of the top five slots of your equipment page.
It gets very interesting when you get cards that can flip; cards that affect neighbours and duplicates; and ability ‘template’ cards you attach to an existing one to gain a new ability (like Ice or Healing powers) as long as you keep the card attached. This leads to situations where you move to a new area and have bad equipment, as you don’t wish to lose the attached abilities — a real gamble, as enemies take massive steps up in difficulty as you move through Loot Rascals’ five regions.
Combat in the Loot Rascals may have a simple system behind it, but it has a lot of tricks to throw at you. If you don’t make it out of an area in a set amount of time, the enemies’ difficulty skyrockets, more enemies appear, gorging themselves on the corpses you’ve left littered around the map, and some enemies have abilities to launch projectiles, or even control daylight in the area surrounding them. For these lattermost enemies you’ll want to use that Ice magic I mentioned earlier to take them out of combat, otherwise they’ll always make sure they have the upper hand.
Loot Rascals‘ visuals are like a Saturday morning cartoon, bright and sharp. Some enemies change design as the daylight wanes and the combat systems are approachable and unique, and yet there’s something else that makes me adore Loot Rascals.
It’s both turn-based and not.
The main character moves around based directly off input from the player, however the world is divided into hexagons. Enemies, unlike the character, move only when a hexagon has been breached. This means you can run around in circles on a hexagon and not trigger the next move. This feels really smart and makes the game feel a lot faster than if the character only moved once you confirmed or clicked on the next place you wanted them to move to. It also gives the game a sort of dance and rhythm to it, albeit one set by the player — as you move faster, the enemies do too — it gives a fantastic feeling when you smash your way through consecutive weak enemies one after another.
Loot Rascals is available now on PC and PS4.
In addition to buying it on Steam, the game is also available on the Humble Store.
(Please note that if you use that Humble link then there is an option to send a little bit of the money you pay along to B3 — you can opt out of that on the store pages, although it would be totes lovely if you did ping something along.)