Parents' Guide to

Loot River

By Jesse Nau, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dark, violent fantasy adventure tests skill and patience.

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Top-down action and sliding-puzzle exploration mix in this roguelike action game. Loot River tries to be a marriage of Dark Souls and Tetris, and almost nails the landing. The influence of Dark Souls is felt throughout the game's story and combat, which has a similar focus on slow, deliberate attacks. The player can move around the environment by sliding platforms they stand on, which takes the familiar gameplay of Tetris in a fresh new direction. You have access to a limited arsenal at the start of the game, beginning with a generic sword and spear, but over time can unlock new weapons and spells to customize your play. Combat can be fairly difficult, even when using the optional easy mode, and dying and restarting with a randomly generated dungeon is a core part of the game. You can affect future runs by unlocking new equipment, spells and other modifiers, which lets you begin to tailor the action to your preferred playstyle over time. The process of dying and restarting is baked into the game's story as well, which allows you to meet new characters and read new dialogue from the handful that live in the starting hub area, letting you slowly piece together the game's plot and lore.

The highlight of the game is the Tetris-inspired movement. You can manipulate platforms to move around the dungeon while retaining full control of your character. Sailing around on platforms while fighting, or trying to solve environmental puzzles to get to a faraway treasure chest is when the gameplay is at its best. Unfortunately, while the deliberately-paced attacks and parries work fine in one-on-one encounters, the visuals makes large group combat very hard to read. Even with outlines around enemies, it can still be hard to feel like you have any control of what's happening to your character or understand what's happening in heated moments. Mixed with the random loot, and limited supply of healing items, your fate in each attempt can feel a little bit too arbitrary. Finding a strong weapon early can make runs fast-paced and fun, while others will feel tedious as you chip away at enemies with large health bars. Ultimately, Loot River combines action mechanics and active exploration in a way that creates an uneven, but fun, experience.

Game Details

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