Date: March 29, 2021
Standing out amongst all the other pixel-art games and roguelikes on Steam isn’t easy nowadays, and if you were going to distinguish yourself from the crowd, you generally wouldn’t do it by lifting core concepts from already popular games. Yet that’s exactly what developer straka.studio has done with Loot River, a game that combines the speed and style of Hyperlight Drifter with FromSoftware’s patented Dark Fantasy aesthetic, and then bafflingly tosses puzzle-style block movement into the mix.
At first glance, Loot River’s feature list reads sounds like it was written by an algorithm that generates popular indie game mechanics: procedurally generated levels, action-roguelike gameplay, puzzles, and dungeon crawling. But after watching the announcement trailer, I’m sold. Although the small Slovakian studio compares their game to Dark Souls, it’s really FromSoft’s Bloodborne that the game’s art style evokes. The studio’s previous games — Euclidean Skies and Euclidean Lands — both played with geometry as a core gameplay mechanic, and in creating Loot River, they’re looking to take those concepts and apply them to an action-RPG.
As you fight your way down the river, you’ll encounter the usual monsters and bosses, and you’ll also run into fellow travelers who are losing their mind as they die and are reborn over and over. Sound familiar yet? Loot River’s creators aren’t shy about wearing their influences on their sleeves, but the block-sliding element of the gameplay is unique among Souls-like games, and serves to set Loot River apart as fresh, rather than derivative.
That being said, Loot River is unquestionably being made by and for Dark Souls fans. In addition to fast-paced, challenging combat and upgradeable items and stats, we also spotted spells, a dodge roll, and what looks like hub world in the trailer and screenshots; those of you expecting all the standard Souls-like trappings should find them here.
Loot River is supported in part by SUPERHOT PRESENTS, and it’s really cool to see one successful indie dev support another in the quest to make great, unique games. Loot River doesn’t have a release date as of yet, but will be available on PC (via Steam) and XBox when it does finally ship. Watch for our review as the release date draws nearer, and let us know in the comments what you think of Loot River!