If you were to ask me what one of my top roguelikes of the last decade was, I would instantly have to reply with Hollow Ponds Loot Rascals. Not only is it a favorite but it probably also takes the cake for one of the weirdest games too. So let’s dive into this weird, alien, tough as nails roguelike that you simply must try.
The world of Loot Rascals
Loot Rascals takes place on an ever-changing alien planet. You, a human, have crash-landed and are trying to save your friend, Big Barry (B19 BRR-E) from a giant monster with tentacles. It is up to you to navigate the harsh alien landscape killing foes along the way. You’re not alone in all of this thankfully, at your camp you have some unique friends to give special quests and tips for your adventure.
The gameplay in Loot Rascals is very similar to other traditional Roguelikes. Everything is turn-based so when you move, your enemy moves. You start in a randomly generated planet, it’s day time and you’re in an area surrounded by a force field. This place is safe from the dangerous fauna of the planet.
With each level, you begin with 250 turns to get through to the next level. These maps are big and have many areas to explore which can make those turns disappear quite fast. At the end of these turns, these space mites appear as well as another countdown of turns until you are overrun with them and die. The point is to, explore but be aware of your time in each place. You will not be able to beat these mites.
Combat is bump to hit for the most part, but the way Loot Rascals determines who attacks first is quite interesting and allows for a large depth of strategy in how you handle enemies. If you look at the picture above you will see over the enemies a red gun or a blue shield. This icon denotes how the enemies will attack or defend. If they have the red gun up and you bump into them they will attack you first. While the blue shield works the opposite that if you bump into them you will attack first. The number inside is their health.
Now for the unique twist to combat. Every 5 turns the planet goes from day to night and then from night to day. In this transition, the enemies that showed a gun, and would have attacked first, now show a shield and will defend first. The icons will flash just before transition (red around the shield and blue around the gun) allowing you to plan out attacks. Planning out your moves is crucial, especially when you’re surrounded by different kinds of enemies.
Once combat begins it goes until you or the enemy die, so be wary of who you pick on and when. Victory does rely heavily on you having sufficient attack & defense power. Death starts you over after being pieced together by the tentacle monster. Picking when to fight and when to run away is very important to you making it to the next level.
It’s all about that loot!
Now what kind of game would a game called Loot Rascals be without some kind of loot centered gameplay? Loot Rascals loot comes in the form of cards. These various cards will either buff your attack or your defense. you have 10 slots in your inventory. Some cards will have modifiers on them too. Things like if placed in an even slot the card gets +1, or +2 to the card above and -1 if you have more than 1 of the same kind of card. This leads to a lot of playing around with load-outs to min-max your run.
There is some rare loot out there that will allow you to imbue a specific card with a power-up. These power-ups range from being able to teleport, give a whole row a big boost in their attribute number, or give you the ability to heal. You’re able to add one of these modifiers to only one card and it isn’t transferable.
This is a single-player game. However, Loot Rascals does something unique when you die. The tentacle monster will take one of your loot from your corpse and it will drop it into another players game equipped to an uber strong monster. Defeating these monsters in your game will provide you with the chance to take the cards from someone else’s death or be kind and return it to them at their base. Just remember, what goes around, comes around.
Loot Rascals looks weird. I’m sure that can be off-putting for some. The game has some major RNG that can affect some runs, and a steep difficulty curve after level 2 if not well equipped. Overall this game does an awesome job though on bringing new ideas to the roguelike genre and I always appreciate experimenting with genres. Loot Rascals can easily be one of those roguelikes that have you saying “just one more game.” The character and world design paired with the awesome and wacky soundtrack really does a great job of pulling you into the game and not letting go. If you’re a fan of the genre at all do not pass this game up!