Persistence pays off. That’s the mindset you should have going into Hollow Pond’s new card collecting game, Loot Rascals. An extremely cartoonish outer space adventure that offers one hell of a challenge, Loot Rascals is sure to keep you coming back for more.
You begin Loot Rascals as a goofy looking little astronaut traveling to a new outer space holiday camp. During your mission on the holiday camp you’re to regain contact with a unit that was supposed to have landed on the camp carrying a substance called “liquid anything”. During your mission briefing you lose control of the ship, and crash on a planet filled with baddies looking to tear you apart. Your main objective now shifts to one thing and one thing only: escape in one piece.
To escape the hostile planet you must make your way through four areas and a final battle. For each area you’ll wander through procedurally-generated tiles, looking for the area’s escape portal. On your journey you’ll encounter a wide variety of alien life forms that are just as goofy, sometimes goofier, looking than you are, and you’ll have no choice but to defend yourself.
The combat in Loot Rascals consists of you and your enemy converging on the same tile, and then going hit for hit until there is only one of you left standing. Your success in combat is based on three major factors: your attack stat, defense stat, and the day/night cycle. Each tile you step on counts as a turn, and after every five turns the area will cycle from day to night. This becomes a major key in strategy, as you’ll always want to hit first, and the time of day determines who will have the first shot. Some enemies go on the defensive when the suns out, while others are out for blood. The day/night cycle will cause the enemies to flip flop between attacking and defending. The attack stat is pretty straight forward, the higher the stat, the more damage you can deal. The defense stat however is a little more complicated, as the enemy’s power is divided by your defense stat, and whatever is left over is taken off your health. So how do you raise your stats? It’s all in the cards.
As you kill enemies they’ll occasionally drop cards. These cards can be equipped in one of ten given slots, and raise your stats based on the value of the card. Some cards will also have special abilities attached to them that can give an extra stat boost for being placed in a certain slot, or give a boost to the cards around it. Some specific types of enemies will drop ability cards that can be attached to your normal attack or defense cards, and will give you the power to shock, burn, or freeze your foes, as well as heal yourself and other perks.
As mentioned earlier there are four areas to escape from before a final battle. This may sound like a breeze, but don’t let it fool you, because underneath its cartoony exterior is a game that will chew you up and spit you out. There are no continues in Loot Rascals, so the four areas and final boss must all be completed in succession in order to escape. One false move or one wrong step could lead to not only your death, but the loss of all the cards you’ve accumulated as well.
On the bright side, it’s very hard to get frustrated at a game that constantly changes as you play. Since the areas are all procedurally-generated you never play the exact same playthrough twice. Sometimes you may draw the short straw and wind up with a bad cluster of enemies, or simply take all the wrong pathways to find the exit portal. Sometimes you may get lucky and maneuver your way through the area without a scratch. In short, Loot Rascals is a game of persistence.
There is no multiplayer in Loot Rascals, however there is a way for players to help each other out or simply be selfish. Whenever you or another player dies, the rascal that lands the finishing blow will loot your corpse of one of your best cards (hence the name of the game). Occasionally you’ll encounter an enemy stronger than the others you typically find throughout the game, and the enemy will have a unique name. When these specific enemies meet their doom you’ll loot a card that was previously owned by another player. You have two choices for this card, either you be a good person and give that card back to its rightful owner, or keep it for yourself. The choice you make may have long term benefits, or it can come back to bite you. If you choose to give the card back to its owner, you’ll eventually have run into that player’s hologram. As a token of appreciation for helping them out, the hologram will shadow you and fight alongside you for a portion of the game until it’s battery life drains. If you chose to be greedy and keep the card, well, the hologram is coming to take you out. In the main hub of each area you can check your mailbox each day for cards that have been returned to you by other players.
One of the best parts of Loot Rascals is the quirky and outrageous art style throughout the game, something you’d expect out of a development team comprised of an Adventure Time animator and former Hohokum developers. Hollow Ponds have created a unique setting with a retro sci-fi aesthetic that’s a blend of Don’t Starve and The Jetsons.
Overall Loot Rascals is a game that knocks you down but keeps you coming back for more. With it’s outlandish atmosphere, goofy enemies, and addicting card-looting mechanics, Loot Rascals is a must-play for any gamer who isn’t shy around a challenge.
Josh completed Loot Rascals and managed to escape in 763 turns. A Playstation 4 review code for Loot Rascals was provided by Hollow Ponds.