Borrowing a cynical motif centered around loot boxes and microtransactions to provide much of the humor, Shadow of Loot Box from Ratalaika Games is a cute little puzzle-shooter that may not get belly laughs, but just may be a good way to spend a few hours.
Short and to the point, Shadow of Loot Box immediately thrusts the player into a simple dungeon, barely possessing any abilities to speak of. Flipping levers, jumping, and even running are skills that must be unlocked by collecting experience spheres. While this seems novel at first – as each skill is necessary to advance beyond a certain point – the fun-factor quickly wears thin.
What remains of the game is a combat system and a basic questing mechanic that is at once barebone and primitive. Sound effects are basic, but serviceable, and music is ambient and low-key – very unobtrusive.
Preston Garvey of Fallout 4 fame makes a cameo appearance, though likely completely unauthorized, and it did elicit a bit of a chuckle. Some small and trite humor like this peppers the game throughout, and is honestly the most attractive part of the short-lived playthrough. Monotonous, almost mindless tasks are also not exactly in short supply: some quests have you jump 25 times in a row to unlock an achievement, others have you shoot the pistol 25 times. Essentially, these are stat-padding achievements that should satisfy those who care about high gamerscore or trophies.
The game is essentially one large joke about microtransactions, cryptocurrency mining, in-app purchases, and the like. While this may seem a ripe societal construct to lampoon, the game does not do so in a particularly interesting or compelling fashion. The gameplay itself is basic, workable, and sets out what it achieves to do. The Minecraft-style graphics are nothing to write home about, but they do look fine enough, and are appropriately scaled to give a proper sense of immersion and perspective.
The basic array of weapons – from a pistol with unlimited ammo all the way up to a powerful rocket launcher – are on offer here. Choose wisely, as the enemies themselves are the source of all loot, and ammunition can become scarce for certain weapons depending on the RNG.
The same can be said of the environs, which range from the standard wooded regions to scorching hot deserts and chilly ice-encrusted surroundings. Adopting cliches seems to be a tongue-in-cheek strategy for the developers of this indie title, and they do so with aplomb.
Ratalaika Games has produced an attractively priced package in Shadow of Loot Box, but not one that will hold one’s attention for more than a few hours. If coy jokes and classic game mechanics – and some easy achievements – are up your alley, you might consider giving this one a spin. For those looking for depth and a completely imagined world to explore and to conquer, it would be best to look elsewhere.