RPG light done right
Cursed Loot is the re-naming of the indie game Epic Dungeon, which I bought back during the "Indie Games Revolution" last year. For those who already guessed it: Yes, this is an Xbox Live Indie game, not an XBLA game or a retail release. I actually was on the fence buying Cursed Loot because I already had Epic Dungeon. Then I realized the game was a freaking doller and was being updated frequently, had tons of extra content, and I was being retarded. So I bought it, did a run-through, and now I'm reviewing it.
|You have nine skills to choose from, five passive and four active.|
Cursed Loot is basically Diablo II light. As in, extremely light. A lot of things are automatic, from attacking (just hold a direction and your dude will bash until either he or an enemy is dead), picking up loot, etc. It also keeps things simple with only a handful of potions, no mana (all skills are simply cooldown based) and no real complex strategies when dealing with enemies. You'd think this would make it a dumb game. But it actually is one of the best indie games on the platform, and makes for a great little RPG experience if you have an hour or so to burn.
You start the game picking a class, which basically just means one of the five main skills will be "focused," meaning you'll get double points if you choose to invent in it. Each has a maximum of 10 points, and four are active while the middle on (regenerate health) is passive. They are all mapped to the face buttons and each have their own cooldown, which means it's smart to get one level of ice and then never level it again (since all four are unique in cooldown, you can essentially spam them).
After that it's off to questing. As said before the entire experience is streamlined, but that doesn't mean it loses all it's depth. You are trying to get through 50 levels and death is permanent, but the game is kind enough that when you run through again you can actually see your failures and pick up some of your old gear (a nice touch).
Since the game has a good balance of automation and manual control, combined with the fact every floor is just the right size between large and small (complete with enemies, traps, and loot), it makes for a great game to play through for 30 minutes and leave (you can beat it on easy in about an hour to an hour and a half).
The game also has it's own in-game achievements system, and unlike "real" achievements these give you slight bonuses when you start a new game. They carry over, which means you can start a bit buffer the more you play, which (when paired with the quick, addicting gameplay) makes for great replay value despite the game being very simple.
|Secret rooms full of cash money? Yes please.|
The game also has very quick level ups, with every five or so giving you a skill point, while the rest raise your stats. It also keeps it simple with only four stats (Attack, Defense, Dex, and Luck) which is nice. The "play through and throw it away" approach means you don't worry about building your character wrong, and if you do the next level is only a stone's throw away.
At $1, I really can't not recommend this game enough. It's updated frequently with new loot, classes, and abilities. It plays quick and fast and looks fantastic with it's retro 16-bit feel, while still playing very modern.
My only complaint is the music. While it isn't awful, there's essentially only two songs, and even for two hours they start wearing on you. They also aren't the greatest songs ever; I think this game would do great with some 8-bit chiptunes a-la the NES Castlevanias. But hey, you can always turn the music off and just crank something else if it really gets to you.
I'd also like to see, maybe in future updates or a new game release, a bit more depth or perhaps more levels of the dungeon. Not enough new stuff to break the "grab and go" feel of the game, but adding more tricks, etc. would certainly help. They've done it already, adding a platforming part for gold and some silly side-adventures (I bought the game at launch so re-playing it with all these new updates had been a treat), but slight complexities added to the core gameplay to those who want it would be nice.
As it stands, if I gave score ratings and based on the gameplay itself I'd give it a four out of five, but considering the price is freaking $1, I highly suggest everybody go pick it up if you have an Xbox. Seriously. It's a freaking buck.
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