SHADOW OF LOOT BOX
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on November 8, 2018
I recently received a mail from our friends of Ratalaika Games about their latest release: Shadow of Loot Box. When I saw the trailer of this FPS game, it somehow reminded me of some games where it all started with, like Doom and Wolfenstein. Shadow of Loot Box utilizes a pixel style, but it's actually completely 3D and looks more polished than the aforementioned games. Just think of the art style in Minecraft and you'll know what I mean. So I'm excited to pay this world of doom (pun intended) and damnation a visit!
I start the game and after some needful changes to the controller setting (I always turn of the vibration, I just don't like it), I enter the first level. A pop-up window shows me the following message: "Your goal is to find the key and use it to open the door leading to the next level." Well that sounds easy enough, right? I can walk around using the thumb stick and by pushing the square button I can enter the skill menu. In this menu, you can unlock 12 skills with the skill points you will earn by leveling up. There is also a tab for loot boxes and a shop. Don't spend too much time thinking about which skill you should buy. In the first few levels, the game will let you know which skill you need to complete them.
The first level does not contain enemies, so you have all the time in the world to get used to the controls and the skill / shop menu without instantly being obliterated by a wandering bad guy. The first level is a dungeon and, as I've mentioned earlier, my goal is to find the key that unlocks the door to the next level. In the second level it's time to find and open my very first loot box. I found some health, experience points and, last but certainly not least, a pistol! And as far I can see it has unlimited ammo, woohoo! Beware enemies, beware! In the second level, my surroundings are not limited to just the interior of a dungeon. No my fellow travelers, we are going outside! I meet other characters and after talking to the first one I get another loot box and this time it contains my favorite weapon of all time: a mighty shotgun! A couple of minutes later I also find a rifle ammo and Rockets, so I think it's safe to say this game is definitely encouraging me to go in all guns blazing!
I come across a settlement where, apparently, the local folks live out their lives. As soon as I enter this little village I am able to talk to them and either accept or decline the quests they offer me. Accepting a quest is usually the best option of course because, if you manage to complete it, you will be rewarded with... can you guess by now? Yes, a loot box! Besides the locals inside the settlement, the world is also filled with less nicer creatures, which you will meet on your travels outside of town. This is actually the first time in the game I crossed paths with my opponents. A very particular opponents, I might add; They look like boxes with legs. Usually, they are quite calm, unless you shoot them or come too close for their liking. It's in these moments that the creatures turn red and start attacking you.
I just have to mention level three, because I thought it was going to be an awesome dungeon level. But instead of narrow halls filled with enemies, I came across a wall showing twelve icons, representing the twelve achievements I could complete over the course this level. If I managed to achieve ten out twelve achievements, the game would let me open the box with the key to level four in it. Of course, being the achievement princess that I am, I wanted to complete them all before moving on to the next level. And this is where I must say what needs to be said, dear readers; I thought all the achievements were totally brilliant! They ranged from buying a premium loot box to breaking fifteen boxes or jumping twnty-five times. Even standing still in one particular spot in the dungeon was an achievement. I actually can't remember ever having this much fun with achievements before!
Yet, there seemed to be something strange going on with the game though. In one of the levels I was asked to watch an ad video in order to earn some in-game cash. But when I agreed, I never saw the video, but I earned the cash anyway. Oh well, free money; I'm not going to argue with that, am I now? Then I entered level five and saw that the entire environment was completely blank and the characters in the environment were just blocks. At first I thought it was a desert level or something, but the block character gave the impression that this level was still a work in progress. This seemed strange to me, because in the email I received about this game, it never said that this was an early access or something. The pop-up I got before this particular level did say something about entering a pre-pre early access? Hmmm, did I break the game...?
Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth! Shadow of Loot Box is filled to the brim with all kinds of features of modern video games that we "love" so much. So, do you like loot boxes in a game, but never find enough of them? No problem, this game makes sure you will find more than you want to. It is positively riddled with these kinds of little fun elements, each representing something "wrong" with the modern gaming industry. Or, as the game's developer, Stately Snail, state on the website:
"Shadow of Loot Box is an attempt to present what video games can become in the near future. Each level of this shooter is a reference to a popular trend in the modern game development industry. Will you be able to overcome the thorny path full of micro-transactions, loot boxes and bugs, resisting the temptation to use the in-game store?"
So go on, treat yourself. You know you want to! Just play Shadow of Loot Box and have a blast discovering all the references to the latest trends and have a good laugh about how silly they actually are!