E3 2016 – Loot Rascals Hands-On Preview – Hexagonal Roguelike

June 23, 2016 Written by Paulmichael Contreras

Remember Hohokum? Well, a couple of folks from the team of that game are now at Hollow Ponds, and they have been busily working on Loot Rascals. Billed as “a roguelike strategy experience with collectible card game elements and a retro sci-fi aesthetic,” this game is trying to blend multiple disparate genres into one cohesive whole. We got some hands-on time with Loot Rascals while at E3 2016, and have a preview ready for your reading pleasure.

Filled With Color

Right from Loot Rascals’ opening cinematic, which is full of trippy visual and audio work, you know you’re in for a unique game. Loot Rascals boasts a very unique art style. It’s in a similar vein as Adventure Time, Hohokum, etc. It’s whimsical, and full of color, and will make most people smile. Jaded gamers may want to check it out to breathe a little life into their collection of brown and light-brown tinted shooters. Naturally, the audio is also fittingly charming, best described as a chilled-out version of the Mos Eisley Cantina.

As for how this mashup of genres plays, the slogan for Hollow Ponds seemed to be quality over quantity. Each playthrough of Loot Rascals only has a few levels, and reaching the end can take as little as 45 minutes. Of course, the challenge lies in finding epic loot and surviving against enemies that are tougher the further into the dungeon you go. Like any good roguelike, the levels are procedurally generated, ensuring no two games are the same.

Loot Rascals is played from an isometric viewpoint – the camera is pointed at the player, from above, and the world has a hand-drawn look and feel to it. The world is mapped out in hexagonal segments, with the occasional rock to block your path. You are free to move about inside each segment, and nearby enemies will patiently wait for you. Once you cross into an adjacent hexagonal segment, however, a turn is used. Enemies will move, time will progress, and if an enemy has moved into a segment that you are occupying, or vice versa, then a battle will take place.

Sit Back and Fight

Combat is automatic, and turn-based. Your character has three stats: life, attack, and defense. Essentially, you do damage equal in amount to your attack strength, perhaps minus any defense the enemy may have. So, you and the enemy exchange blows, until only one creature remains. Win, and you’ll earn a card. Loot Rascals features numerous cards to collect and combine in a “hand” of ten cards. Each slot in your hand is numbered, and some cards have conditions listed which, if met, will make the card more powerful. These conditions seem pretty simple, such as placing the card into an odd-numbered slot, but when multiple cards have conflicting conditions it can become tough to decide what to prioritize. The card system on display during our preview was surprisingly in-depth, and should take some time to master.

When you get killed by an especially difficult enemy (or do something stupid/risky and get killed by a pion), they will loot a card from you. That card is uploaded to Hollow Ponds’ servers, and is dropped into other players’ games. Now, if those other players kill an enemy that is holding on to one of your cards, that player will have the option to send the card back to you, or hold onto it for their own use. Either way, an NPC version of the original card owner will spawn in that player’s game, to help out if their card was returned, or to try and kill the greedy player if they kept the card to themselves.

Loot Rascals looks to be a great mashup of genres that seem so obviously made for each other, now that someone has done the hard work of figuring it out. Playthroughs are short, but with so many cards to collect and use, it seems that this will be a game that beckons you to play “just one more round” before turning off your console. The asynchronous multiplayer is also innovative, with a risk/reward system which should add another level of depth to the game. Loot Rascals is currently scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2017, for the PlayStation 4 and PC.