Not many indie games go out for a space theme. Most stick to Earth or a fantasy-land like Earth and kick it around there. With many AAA games going to space, it's easy to see why many don't want to try it. But Loot Rascals decided to not only do it, but go a completely different way.
Okay, so here's the plot: You're an astronaut heading to a planet, only to find out that there is a moon in the way. Once on the moon, you need to get back your projects machine, kill all hostiles and get out of there. Not much to it, but I liked how it unfolded. I'd compare it to Pikmin almost. Not the most complex story, but it works quite well.
Controls on the PC were also good. To get around the game, you need to travel one space at a time by hexagon, with aliens, drops and an unfolding map sprouting out all around you. And they're fine. It was easy to navigate, fight, build my card deck, etc. No complicated controls, but also not a button masher either. I've heard good things about playing on a console, and playing on Steam is at least as good an experience.
Game play get's more complicated when the cards come in. You collect them in random places or by defeating enemies, and you need to build up what you can do with them in 5-10 slots. From there it's collecting and using them in and around the world. The fights aren't complex – basically you hit the enemy, and they hit you back until one of you is dead, although as you explore, things like ranged attacks become a thing. Generally, if you strategize, move cautiously and listen to your hologram buddy, the game gives you a fun challenge.
Also, a little note about the characters – they're pretty fun. Most games try to generalize characters, but your hologram who comes along with you is a lot of fun. He glitches, reacts like a person would and is probably one of the least annoying sidekicks in a game ever.
How to describe the graphics? One part PBS kids cartoon, one part Adult Swim cartoon, with a dash of an electric color palette. Instead of more earthy tones, Loot Rascals goes for more of a cartoony flavor, and it works. A lot of horrifying things happen, but because of the style, it looks like a fun cartoon. And that's what it was – fun. I usually like realistic games, but this was so radically different from anything out there. It's looks like you're playing a well-made cartoon.
The music wasn't as good. There's this cartoonish loop in the background, that while fitting, get's to you pretty fast. Sounds are a little better – every alien you fight has a unique sound, and fighting, picking up, etc. sound great. Even the characters are great – whoever voiced the hologram did a great job of being a very friendly, helpful and confused hologram – I know it's a strange compliment, but play it and you'll see. Playing through, I didn't really see a lot go wrong. As you traveled, the map and objects showed up quickly. The game never slowed down and it was pretty seamless moving about. A few times my cards got messed up because they stuck to where they were, but fiddling with them for a sec let you rearrange it all. Besides tiny things like that, it played through nicely.
Loot Rascals does have its problems, but those are very easily overlooked because of its fun setup, amazing graphics/style, challenging ways to get through and a little bit of humor to keep you going. I had a lot of fun playing it, and, as long as you don't want anything really serious, you'll probably get a kick out of it too.
Final Score: 8/10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.