So, gonna rehash a bit first and chuckle then get to the point...I might also go off on tangents cause that's just how I roll....all over the place.
OK rehash time.
A while back I played a godawful indie game named Hack Slash Loot. I got it in an indie bundle and like most of my games mentally put it in the "I'll get to it someday which means never" pile.
However a friend of mine named Nocturne asked me one day "hey is HSL any good?"
I replied like I do 95% of the time someone asks me about a game "don't know, bought it but haven't touched it." ;
But I decided oh well might as well try it now. As I played I commented to him on my experience and that actually ended up becoming my review of the game on here. If you wanna see what I had to say, go ahead and read it, I'll wait.
Ok, moving forward. My short and hilariously vulgar review somehow caught the eye of the developer of the game who proceeded to both talk smack on twitter and leave me an anonymous comment on the review about how I'm just butt hurt I suck at the game. (You can thank them for the disabling of anonymous comments. You wanna insult me dont hide behind anonymity)
While I firmly stand behind my opinion, it is just that, an opinion. And while I may not be a "professional" reviewer or game journalist I know that my friends and readers are trusting me to not just give my opinion but back it up with tangible reasons. With that in mind I decided to look around and see what others had to say about the game. I found quite a few people who, while stating it more diplomatically, felt the same way about the game.
Why am I rehashing this?
Because while my review was over the top and vulgar (that's how I roll) the underlying view on the game was one I felt was fair and honest and that was called into question.
Because for a moment I thought "what if they're right and I just suck at the game and have a case of sour grapes."
Which leads me to the reason I'm posting...
This weekend I played a game in the same genre as HSL and can confirm that my opinion of HSL was indeed based on the poor...everything about the game.
I recently bought yet another indie bundle from the indie gala store which included both the PC and Droid versions of a game called Cardinal Quest. As I mentioned above it probably would have gone right to my pile of shame except that I was bored while having a smoke and decided to try Cardinal Quest on my phone.
Granted I have not had the chance to play the PC version but aside from touch screen controls I doubt its all that different.
Its a retro style dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeon floors and perma death...sounds a lot like HSL huh? But, this game is actually fun. I found myself dying often and restarting again and I couldn't put it down.
It offers spells to pick up, an actual inventory, health and mana potions that you can actually hold on to and the loot system is handled rather well with an interesting mechanic. My character runs across a new weapon or piece of armour and if its better than what I have he automatically equips it and the previous item disappears and becomes money. If its not better than his, he'll automatically turn it into gold coins. Its a simple system that works incredibly well.
The graphics are again, in that retro stlye that nostalgia makes gamers crave. But overall its aesthetically pleasing in a way HSL is not. It might not offer the wide range of unlockable characters offered by HSL but, you could have 100 unlockable character classes that wouldn't mean shit if your game is an unplayable random mess.
I've stuck with the "beginners" character, the Warrior and its been a great, fun experience. Sure dying and losing everything always kinda sucks but, the game is so enjoyable, I don't mind it all that much. I also managed to make it 4 floors before i bit it so, nice to have a fighting chance.
But, dont think this was the only game of this type i tried. I like being thorough.
I was on Kongregate recently checking out some games and ran across one called "Second Wind"
Its not exactly a 1-shot perma death like HSL and Cardinal Quest. Like the title suggests. when you die, you get a second wind and then after that its game over.
Its even more minimalistic than the other 2 games. taking you from a screen with a particular character selling potions, or upgrades to screens with a stationary enemy and 3 attack choices on one side, health potions on the other side. No map, no roaming through actual rooms, just one screen after another with friend or foe. You really cant get much more pared down than this game, yet I found myself spending an hour sitting in my chair after i was done smoking just replaying the game after every death.
What this very long post is trying to convey is that, minimalism, retro graphics and perma death aren't thing I inherently hate. These things don't make bad games and they deserve a place and recognition among their AAA slick shiny big brothers. However, these things should come together to make a cohesive whole that feels somewhat fair and balanced and more importantly is fun to play. Because these are video "games" and games should be fun.
Everyone has their own opinions and tastes and I wouldn't presume to tell you what you should or shouldn't play. A review is subjective, no matter how objective we try to be. We WILL color a review with our own views and thoughts, which is why they should serve as information, but not gospel truth. At the end of the day, you decide what you like and if that's HSL, well, ok then. If its Soul Calibur, or Dishonored or whatever, that's fine too.
I do not give games I review number scores or letter scores and I never EVER will. What I will say is what I think, how I feel about that game and point out the good, the bad and the ugly as I see it and experience it. The final decision lies with you. However, I do want to stress that I do try to be fair and honest and tell you the things I would want to know if I was looking for info on a game.
If any of the games I've mentioned have caught your fancy well, here's where to find them:
Hack Slash Loot is Available on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/207430/ currently its on sale 60% off bringing its $6.99 usual price tag to $2.49
Cardinal Quest is Available on Desura http://www.desura.com/games/cardinal-quest for $4.99
and Second Wind is Available on Kongregate http://www.kongregate.com/games/EvilConker/second-wind for free.