Heroes of Loot 2 ($1.99) by Pascal Bestebroer of Orangepixel is the sequel to the original classic, Heroes of Loot. If you’re a fan of action-packed dungeon crawlers that are inspired by roguelikes but without the permanent-death-so-you-start-over-from-square-one element, then Heroes of Loot 2 is the perfect match up for you.
When I have some time to spare during the day, I usually end up pouring an hour or two into a video game of some kind. And while I love puzzles on mobile platforms, I can’t help but feel drawn to some epic dungeon crawling adventures every now and then, since I’m a big fan of the genre since I played Diablo 2 years ago. Ever since I discovered Diablo 2, I fell in love with dungeon crawlers in general, and have been eager to try out new ones, whether they’re in 3-D or 2-D, and whatever platform I have access to. I’ve been a fan of Orangepixel for some time now, especially with their last release, Space Grunts. But since that dungeon crawler was more turn-based, it did get a bit tedious when I jus want to go bum-rush everything and lay waste to the room. That’s where Heroes of Loot 2 comes in.
Visually, Heroes of Loot 2 follows in the footsteps of other Orangepixel titles, as it has the super pixelated art style going on. Since I grew up in the late ’80s and ‘90s, pixel art is always welcome to me, as it reminds me of my childhood playing NES and Genesis. Despite the pixelated aesthetic, I found Heroes of Loot 2 to be fairly detailed throughout the dungeon environments, as the walls and floors are textured, lit up torches flickering with flames, and fragile objects breaking and crashing as I obliterate them with ease. The characters all stand out well on their own, even though they all appear similar but with different colors, and enemies come to life with their own boisterous spirit. Animations in Heroes of Loot 2 are smooth and fluid, though sometimes the movement feels a bit slow from the controls, and the soundtrack is sure to get you in the adventuring mood. In terms of the visuals and audio, Orangepixel has done it again.
The one problem I have with the visuals is the fact that sometimes areas are not lit enough. I’m not just talking about brightness either — sometimes I can barely see my characters or where I am going because it is pitch black. I’m sure that may just be part of the design, but it leads to a somewhat frustrating experience when you can’t even see where you are. I hope that this is corrected in the future.
Heroes of Loot 2 starts out with four heroes who set out on an adventure of a lifetime before they’re interrupted by a call for help. If you played the first Heroes of Loot, then it may look familiar to you. Orangepixel makes sure to add in that necessary splash of humor to make everything just a bit more exciting, and it pays off in Heroes of Loot 2. There are funny cutscenes that are worth watching, though they are skippable if you just want to get right to the action.
Before you start each run, you’ll have to pick two heroes (one ranged and one melee) out of four: Ranger, Wizard, Warrior, and Valkyrie. Each hero has their own special talents and abilities: Ranger can pierce through multiple enemies with arrows, Wizard has unlimited magic, Warrior can crush foes with a powerful whirlwind attack, and Valkyrie has a quick-spinning melee attack and also detects secrets and hidden loot. While you may already pick a preference as to what your ranged and close-up heroes will be, it’s important to note that you’ll need to use both character skills to complete quests and make it to the end game.
Each run has players traversing through a series of dungeons that is filled with menacing enemies and bosses while also having valuable loot. Your goal is to go from the starting point to the stairwell to the next floor without dying by the hordes of enemies that come out of the darkness. Sometimes you will encounter special rooms, like the “Arena” room, where you must clear out all enemies before you can move on. Boss battles are easily identifiable because the enemy is usually much bigger than smaller mobs and the room is sealed after you enter so you can’t leave until the boss falls.
Your health and mana/energy are displayed in the top left corner of the screen, and it’s pretty self-explanatory: once the red gauge is out, you’ve died and will have to start anew. But don’t worry — you retain your hero levels and any new skills that you acquire by collecting books, so the next runs may end up being a little easier as you play more. Sometimes you will also find items that will enhance your heroes, even if it’s just for a short amount of time. Take advantage of these as often as you can, because they’re good for our small heroes.
Controls in the game are simple enough to understand, though I do feel that they can be better optimized. In the bottom left corner will be a virtual joystick for moving and aiming your ranged attackers. The bottom right has buttons for talking to NPCs or attacking (use the joystick to aim) and switching between your ranged or close-up hero. I did find that sometimes I’d accidentally switch heroes as I’m trying to just attack with one because my thumb slipped over the button because I thought I’d aim ranged attacks with the action button, rather than the movement joystick.
Perhaps I’m just used to dual-stick shooters in this sense, but to me it makes more sense to aim ranged attacks with the right action button instead of the movement joystick. Most of the time I prefer to back up while shooting what is in front of my character — in Heroes of Loot 2, I found myself shooting at nothing as I’m backing up trying to defend myself and not get hit. Maybe it would be easier to get used to the controls if you’re not accustomed to dual-stick shooters, but I hope that the developer can consider changing how the controls work in a future update, or at least make the controls a bit more customizable, because right now you can’t change anything other than having a fixed or floating virtual joystick.
And while Heroes of Loot 2 may feel a bit repetitive for those who are not too familiar with the genre, it does spice things up a bit, especially from the original. As you explore the dungeon floors, you’ll encounter some NPCs that you can interact with. Sometimes these will just be shopkeepers that can sell you items that help you out, but other times you’ll find characters who have a problem that they want you to solve. These NPCs will give you “quests,” and the objective for them will not always be the same, so it keeps things fresh and interesting. You’ll get rewarded for completing them, so it’s not always for nothing.
Speaking of shopkeepers, like any good dungeon crawler adventure, it’s important to just break everything you can — enemies and broken items (like boxes, vases, and lights) can drop money, potions to recover health and energy, and gems. Sometimes merchants will take gold coins, but other times they want shiny blue or purple gems. Explore and break everything you can to scavenge up that pretty change and get yourself some useful items along your journey.
I wasn’t expecting Heroes of Loot 2 to drop so suddenly this week, but it was a welcome surprise. I’ve only just started the game, but I can see myself pouring many hours into this gem in the coming weeks. The graphics are awesome, the music is fun, and the gameplay is challenging and fun. I just hope to see some better optimization for the controls in terms of ranged attacking, because I find it a bit tedious and annoying in the current implementation. Still, Heroes of Loot 2 is one that shouldn’t be missed.
I recommend giving Heroes of Loot 2 if you’re a fan of dungeon crawlers or you’ve enjoyed Orangepixel’s previous games. You can get Heroes of Loot 2 as a universal download for the iPhone and iPad for just $1.99 (50 percent off until Saturday, June 11). Heroes of Loot 2 is also available on Steam for $9.99.