Loot River

by Aethyna
May 7, 2022 | 1 Votes | 38 Played | 0 Reviews Your vote
Loot River 8 rate Complete with breathtaking pixel art and incredible soundtracks, Loot River is a truly unique roguelike game that features one-of-a-kind Tetris-based tile puzzles and soulslike combat. In this game, you’ll need to make your way through a labyrinth of Tetris blocks, battling a wide variety of monstrous creatures and solving sliding puzzles. Play Now Similar Games Played Post a Review

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Summary Plotline Gameplay Graphics/ Sound Conclusion

Summary


Complete with breathtaking pixel art and incredible soundtracks, Loot River is a truly unique roguelike game that features one-of-a-kind Tetris-based tile puzzles and soulslike combat. In this game, you’ll need to make your way through a labyrinth of Tetris blocks, battling a wide variety of monstrous creatures and solving sliding puzzles.

Plotline


Loot River’s story isn’t as well-laid out as I think. Unless you check out the game’s Steam page, you won’t even know the reason why you could move the platforms you are standing on – hint: the relic that your soul is bound to doesn’t only give you immortality. However, one thing’s for sure, the game seems to center around a group of powerful elites who became mad with power and you are supposed to free them and the cities they rule from the corrupting influence of the relic.

Besides the little notes in the tutorial part of the game, I should also mention that Loot River does provide more details about the world through its loading screens. You can “donate” to the bard once you’ve rescued him from the Sunken City to get him to tell you tales as well.

Gameplay


The main feature that sets Loot River apart from all the other roguelikes is the fact that it has an interesting Tetris aspect to it. Not only will you have to solve sliding puzzles by moving these Tetris tiles around, but the game also becomes markedly more challenging in the second level of the game, The First City, when you encounter tiles that are higher than the normal that can only be accessed if you have a Tetris piece with a staircase and can match them all up accordingly.

Moving the Tetris-like platforms isn’t just to get you from one end to another of the dungeon; it can be used strategically in combat, allowing you to take on large groups of enemies in a more manageable way. Of course, the game then counters this strategy by introducing a new creature in The First City that can lock tiles together as long as it is alive.

In terms of combat, if you’re expecting fast-paced action-based combat similar to say… Children of Morta, you’ll be quite disappointed. Every swing of the blade feels slow and clunky despite supposedly being the faster weapon of the lot (that I’ve managed to unlock so far), and don’t get me started on the spear. However, that is not to say that the combat’s bad. If you look at it from a soulslike perspective, where you'll need to learn your enemies’ predictable attack patterns and counter them accordingly with the precise timing of a parry, then everything suddenly makes sense.

This is why if you approach combat in this game with less urgency and more deliberateness and strategy, then you’ll be able to make quick work of the enemies there. Plus, there’s a crazy ton of other weapons that you can eventually unlock at the Sanctuary once you have enough Knowledge points accumulated. So, if you enjoy speedily slashing your enemies, you can… just not at the beginning of the game.

Depending on the weapon you use, and you get to swap between two equipped weapons you’ll also get a special ability in addition to the basic attack. For spears, you can use it to block attacks at the cost of mana while for the starter sword, you can charge it up and pierce through multiple enemies at once like a… well, a spear. There’s also a parry and dodge ability but nailing that down can take a bit of getting used to.

It takes me a lot longer than usual to get used to the controls as well, and I’ve tried it on both the recommended controllers as well as on my preferred keyboard and mouse. Personally, having the attack buttons on the Q and E keys just feels wrong. For some reason as well, when I tried rebinding these two keys to my mouse buttons, the game just wouldn’t let me do it. It’s simply not registering my mouse clicks.

Now, although I can understand why the combat and the controls might turn off some players but not others, there’s one thing that I believe many players would agree - its progression. Deaths are a lot more punishing in this roguelike, than even Arboria I reckon. You don’t get to keep all of the Knowledge points you’ve painstakingly accumulated during your run, and the cost of unlocks, such as getting a new weapon to appear in your next run, takes a lot more currency than you can accumulate within just a single run.

Personally, I did three runs back-to-back - and I didn’t count my fourth since I died, trapped in a blaze of fiery glory… – and I ended up having less Knowledge than I started out with since you lose 50% of it every time you die, including the points you’ve managed to save from your prior runs. It’s simply disheartening to see little to no progress – or even a regression - despite making several runs.

I think it’s probably a good idea to have a way to lock-in the Knowledge points you’ve earned in previous runs so they won’t get taken away if you so happen to die early and haven’t managed to earn any Knowledge yet. This way, the player would be able to make more meaningful progress.

Unfortunately, the coins you get by smashing crates, vases, coffins, or shelves don’t seem to do much either. So far, I’ve noticed that you can only use it to purchase the only item that the trader who goes by Toby sells if you do happen to bump into him. The item he sells usually cost quite a bit, and considering that you don’t get to keep any coins that you earn in your previous runs, you’ll need to survive a few levels before you have enough on you to actually buy anything.

However, in my situation, I simply end up dumping everything I have in a run on the bard Finnegan once I’ve rescued him from the Sunken City, just to bribe him into telling the story. Deckard Cain would have been disappointed to know that he could have charged a pretty penny to get the player to sit awhile and listen after all.

Being a roguelike, the gameplay in Loot River is pretty much what you’d expect – play, die, and repeat. However, the game offers some interesting features that make every run more challenging. For one, the elements, specifically fire, can really screw up your run if you’re not careful since it can set any flammable platforms alight, and if every platform is on fire, you can’t really run to anywhere safe.

Before the start of every run, Soap, an alchemist at the Sanctuary, will help you double your potions which you can then collect if you do manage to make it back to the Sanctuary in one piece after completing a dungeon. The thing is though – you’ll need to give him your potions (some at least; you don’t have to give him everything), so you’ll be playing a run with fewer potions than you started out with had you not used his services.

You can even add on modifiers once you’ve unlocked them to change up the game in your next run. However, personally, I don’t really feel the impact of those modifiers just yet. They seem to provide little bonuses, like ensuring there are no traps in the Sunken City, which is good to have but nothing really game-changing.

Now, unfortunately, most roguelikes I’ve played come with interesting modifiers that you can get during a run that really changes up your run and the style in which you choose to play. This isn’t something that’s present here and for a game that’s called “Loot River”, the loot isn’t as impressive as I’d thought.

Graphics/ Sound


If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, even those who has not played the game yet, is that Loot River has some incredible pixel art. The game just looks so good despite the characters being fairly small on the screen. On a side, it’s also cool that your character glows. It looks great when the enemies are all mostly black figures.

In terms of the soundtrack, I think the music here is really good too, especially the one that plays during the very first level, the Sunken City. Can’t get enough of that beat!

Conclusion


Loot River seems to be that kind of game that you either love or you really don’t; there seems to be some, but not much, in between. The game expects you to put in some work to learn the game and its mechanics, and not just hack and slash your way through throngs of enemies, so it just isn’t the kind of roguelike where you can just pick up and play in short bursts.

However, I personally think that the game needs to address the progression issue, to at least allow players to feel like they are going somewhere after ending every run and not just back to square one. That’s probably the main gripe I have amongst several that I’ve raised in the review and it’s probably the most important if the game aims to attract a broader range of roguelike fans.

Loot River Blog

New Game Added: Loot River

by Aethyna May 7, 2022
Complete with breathtaking pixel art and incredible soundtracks, Loot River is a truly unique roguelike game that features one-of-a-kind Tetris-based tile puzzles and soulslike combat. In this game, you’ll need to make your way through a labyrinth of Tetris blocks, battling a wide variety of monstrous creatures and solving sliding puzzles. Loot River: Opening a chest Toby the Trader in Loot River Loot River: Combat Read More

Start Exploring The Unholy Loot River On May 3rd As ‘Souls Meets Tetris’ Roguelike Hits PC & Xbox

by Aethyna Apr 20, 2022
Xbox Game Pass subscribers can enter procedurally-generated labyrinthes and begin battling nightmarish bosses on Day One Start Exploring The Unholy Loot River On May 3rd As ‘Souls Meets Tetris’ Roguelike Hits PC & Xbox Read More
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