There are dark places in the world inhabited by evil denizens. Places filled with danger and foreboding where no ordinary man would dare to journey. However, there are a few who are willing to risk death in the name of good, in the name of justice, in the name of.. valuable loot! Hack, Slash, Loot(HSL) is a single-player turn-based dungeon crawler for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Take control of a lone hero and explore sprawling dungeons, fight dangerous monsters, and most importantly, plunder valuable treasures. HSL features thousands of items, monsters, and dungeon features, and with a new dungeon created every game you can be sure that no two plays will ever be the same. Boasting easy to master controls you'll be adventuring in no time, but there is still enough depth to challenge the most hardened of adventurers.
I love Rogue-likes, and was excited to see one with a nice graphical style. The simple interface also makes this game more approachable than most games in that genre.
However, what I enjoy about Rogue-likes is their complexity of interaction. This game is closer to the complete lack of complexity of "Gauntlet." Which is perfectly fine if that's what one enjoys.
"Hack, Slash, Loot" has the classic "NetHack" keys available for movement and attacking. But this just makes it feel like that much more of a betrayal of style, when you realize that some information can only be gained through use of the mouse.
Unlike the very well-matured "Nethack," "Hack, Slash, Loot" also feels entirely unbalanced. In my decent handful of attempts at enjoying the game, I was killed (seemingly without option of escape) within the first 10 monster encounters. Granted that Rogue-likes are supposed to be very difficult. However, while trying only to "grind" on the weakest of monsters, I was still slain quite quickly.
First, let me be clear that I got this game when I bought an IndieRoyale bundle for some of the other games in it. I'm not "butthurt" because I wasted my money. That aside, let's review.
I mostly like to explore but I'm also generally OK with well-balanced roguelikes which lack an exploration mode... but this is neither. I've never gotten past the first few rooms without dying.
...which brings me to the next problem. The documentation is terrible. The built-in "online help" button doesn't work and the "how to play" link on the website is pretty much just a glorified keyboard reference and overview of what the different in-game icons mean... plus a link saying "see forums for more help". (I was looking for the apparently nonexistant "regain health so you can survive beyond the third room" mechanic)
When installed on Linux, it's installed non-executable, so Desura silently fails to start it unless you go into the install directory and explicitly set the binary as executable.
The game claims to default to using ALSA, but I use ALSA dmix for my audio support (PulseAudio is too buggy) and, out of 75 games and at least a dozen more applications, only Voxatron joins it in silence.
The keyboard interface is poor. Even reading the reference and experimenting, I couldn't figure out how to preview a dropped piece of equipment. I will admit that the mouse interface is very nicely polished, but that's overshadowed by the other flaws.
For example, there's no inventory, so I can't save items for later without leaving them lying on the ground and, according to the forums, you have to do that AND avoid killing some of the monsters if you want to have enough health to survive the later levels.
If you want a nice, simplified roguelike which is available on all platforms, download Brogue (free, textual but uses unicode and colors beautifully). If you want a fun, graphical rogue-like which is available on all platforms, buy Dungeons of Dredmor.
When you first start playing this game, it is almost guaranteed that you will NOT enjoy it. Not because of missing inventory, or towns, or shops, or leveling, or whatever many other reviewers state. This game is about simplicity, and none of that extra stuff is required for a good rogue-like.
You will not enjoy the game in the beginning for the simple reason that you will die. A lot. Without reaching the second level on most tries. And it will NOT be your lack of knowledge of the mechanics, or any mistakes that you may make. It will be because the beginning gameplay is quite enormously unbalanced.
The first 3 classes you have access to suck, plain and simple. The only way to make any progress with them is to be extremely lucky with loot. After all, loot is the only way of regaining health in this game, and when the average monster will deal you more damage than the average health potion heals, that causes a problem. As the first 3 classes start out very ill equipped and with weak stats, they can only survive with either finding TONS of healing items, or striking gold with items of Swiftness (haste, lets you kite lots of enemies forever) and Regeneration (self explanatory.) And that, IMHO, is bad game balance.
Also, as mentioned, the online help document is not very helpful. I didn't even know the game autosaved when you exit and could be continued with the Continue button (which is pretty small and not labeled unless you hover the pointer over it!)
So why am I rating this 5/10 and not 2/10? Because if you persevere and start unlocking more powerful classes (mainly by dying at first, eventually by completing the quests) and finding relics which carry over between playthroughs, the game does actually become fun. You stop cursing at the unfairness of it all and start noticing nice touches, like the very good (for a rogue-like) monster AI, travel using the minimap, and humorous elements throughout.
But for many, this will come too little to late.
This game has a lot of potential to be a really good game but it isn't there yet. If the player had more than just a single attack (like multiple spells/special abilities). It would add a lot to the game.
Cardinal Quest is a good example of a game that does that well.
I'm not sure what the negative comments/reviews have to do with this game. Hack, Slash, Loot is exactly what I expected it to be from the gameplay videos and screenshots. It's a fun, simple roguelike with a focus on quicker gameplay and satisfying finds (which it does really well, hence the game's title). The graphical presentation is really cute & charming as well, and I've had lots of fun in short bursts with this game.
Do not purchase this if you're expecting huge layers of detail, mechanics and strategy. It's a roguelike so the re-playability is there, and it's a quality game to pass the time with lots of charm. Definitely recommended.
It's not as bad as some people here claim that it is. The game is fairly simplistic, something to play on a coffee break or in short bursts. It's fun in a simple way. Probably should be priced slightly lower, considering the amount of material you're getting here. Overall, a decent light roguelike(like) dungeon crawler.