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Loot River test – The Diablo wears Tetris @VGR

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Curious crossover of Diablo and TetrisLoot River is a roguelite which offers an original concept while in pixel art. Fruit of the small independent Slovak studio straka.studio, supported by Superhot Presents for publishing, it was released in early May on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Seriesas well as on the game pass (Xbox and PC). dungeon crawler in the soul, it immerses us in a universe of dark fantasy where you have to go through labyrinthine levels by moving moving blocks floating down a river, while battling a slew of warlike creatures, in order to find the exit. But before we get to that, we will of course have to die many times to come back stronger.

Life is not just a long calm river

Loot River test

While the old village was flooded underground by those of the upper town to take control of it, what is now called the Sunken Village contains nothing but dead and contaminated water. Escaping is not so simple and you will pass away quickly. But death is not the end since a certain Iphis will then affix you the mark of the Relic, thus making you immortal. Each time you die, you will reappear at the Sanctuary where Iphis is and can then try your luck by first trying to cross the Sunken Village to then be able to reach the First City then the Chapel of the Ghosts and finally the Opulent Sanctuary. But many enemy creatures will seek to prevent you from doing so, and you will also have to defeat the boss from each of these places.

The Sunken Village now contains nothing but dead and contaminated water.

Loot River test

At each stage you will pass through the Sanctuary allowing you to replenish your health near the statue which is in its center. You can also recover the vials of care that you have previously wagered. Each new run indeed starts with 4 vials, but before each dungeon, you can discard the number of vials of your choice in order to recover some. double if you reach the end. A nice strategic side. Is it better to bet as much as possible to have as much healing as possible afterwards, at the risk of not being able to cross the next dungeon, or to keep enough to cover your back and not find yourself without it when the difficulty comes? ?

And in the middle flows the loot

Loot River test

Besides its atmosphere of dark fantasyenhanced by a soundtrack exacerbating its side very dark, Loot river differs from the competition by the particular concept of movement within the dungeons that it offers. Every ruined place you pass through is indeed made up of floating blocks that you can move, Tetris-style, up, down, left or right, as long as it is not blocked by a wall or other block. However, you can only move the platform you are on, which leads to puzzles to solve in order to make their way. They are not all the same size, shape or height. To go from one floor to another, you have to find a block with stairs. And to slip into the narrow passages, you still have to manage to get there on board a platform having the appropriate shape.

The possible strategies are many and varied.

Loot River test

Blocks are also a means ofavoid fights bypassing those where enemies are, or drawing them to others that you will hasten to leave behind once they are there. You can also sometimes use them to block passages, and even to attack, approaching only to strike before quickly retreating. It is, moreover, a means of divide opposing forces allowing only one enemy to board only to then walk away and face them alone before returning for another. A concept that is not only original, but also very effective. The possible strategies are many and varied, and each run is different due to procedurally constructed dungeons. Each step looks like a labyrinth that only gradually reveals itself on the mapas you progress, with different paths possible sometimes leading to dead ends but also to hidden areas containing various treasures.

A concept that is not only original, but also very effective.

Loot River test

You will indeed come across chests containing weapons, armor, accessories, artifacts and/or money to spend with merchants that you will meet on your way. Opponents can also drop some on death. A creature by the name of Collum also offers you a random exchange of a weapon for hard-earned stat points by leveling up. You will also discover lost travelers that you can free and then find in the Sanctuary. These will allow you to unlock new weapons (sword, spear, axe, panopticon…), armor (including hats or helmets) and spells (repel enemies, shield, lightning, invisibility…) in exchange knowledge points that you will bring back from your expeditions. With this you will be able to access more powerful hardware more suited to your style of play in chests or on enemies, but with each death you will start from scratch, everything you have won will be lost, including accumulated money and improved stats since you will return to level one with basic weapons. Better to spend everything as soon as possible. The principle is seen and reviewed, but it still works, providedaccept this very punitive side forcing to start all over again and again.

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The endless river

Loot River test

For real-time combat, we stay on a Dark Souls style, with fairly classic skills (light or charged attack, parry, dodge) where sequences, spells (two slots per weapon), the skills of the two weapons you can equip, or accessories (rings, amulets, etc.), are just as important as the damage inflicted by your weaponry. The resistance to the elements (fire, ice, lightning, poison) is also important. And it’s about manage his health level like his mana level for magic, which is recharged while fighting. Although basic, the fights face each other various enemies (weak, strong, flying, explosive ball throwers, cult killers with their extendable weapons…), but equipped with an AI that could not be more rustic. They show no strategy and foolishly rush into the heap without thinking. It is not always easy to get rid of them in the face of their number and the weakness that can be shown. We will also note here excessive imbalances in the level of difficulty offeredalternately very easy or very tense, and some approximation in the controls during confrontations which can discourage.

The enemies show no strategy and stupidly rush into the pile without thinking.

Loot River test

As in any good roguelite, it is through repetition and unlocked improvements that you will achieve your goals. You can also opt for the easy mode so that enemies have less life and do less damage, as well as applying a red outline to them and indicating the directions in which the platforms can move. As for lyrics or menus, the title is entirely localized in French in the texts. However, there is no need for more since the exchanges are made only in the form of onomatopoeia transcribed in an understandable way in bubbles, cartoon style. For the rest of the graphic dimension, all in 2Dit is of course the old way since the artistic direction chosen is that of pixel art with levels drawn by hand. And the result is quite convincing, at least for the environments, with beautiful water effects. Characters like enemies, with the exception of slightly more stylish bosses, on the other hand, remain very sketchy and could, in our humble opinion, have been better cared for. Fortunately, animations are smoothwhich is essential given the speed of movement that it is better to know how to adopt to hope to survive.

Unfortunately, we quickly find ourselves confronted with a certain weariness.

Loot River test

Where the shoe pinches, unfortunately, is that despite the exciting side of the first hourswe quickly find ourselves confronted with a certain weariness linked to a feeling of too much repetitiveness. It’s of course gender-specific, and the procedural design dampens that feeling, but you still end up having more and more difficult to motivate yourself to start a new run, shame. However, the game is not very long, count about 6 hours to beat the last boss, but it’s not over yet. The different artifacts that you bring back to Iphis allow you to apply your choice 5 permanent changes (more enemies, removal of extendable weapons or fire traps, shortcuts…). However, two artifacts, one of which is recovered once the last boss has been defeated, allow access to two hidden areas: the Ditch and the Gluttons, the latter being an alternative to the Chapelle des Revenants. It therefore does not only six destinations of which two are just boss fights (the Chapel and the Gluttons). It will thus be necessary defeat 5 bosses to collect the 5 keys needed to open the escape door. And, if you want to unlock all the upgrades, it will still take you some extra time.

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