If you've played a Monster and Monster game before, you will probably already be familiar with their ability to turn atmospheric chiptune music and simple yet detailed pixel graphics into a great mood driven experience. Autumn Walk [Free] and Winter Walk [Free] live and breathe on this adorable mood they instill. If you think Deep Loot [Free] is going to give you a similar experience, however, you are going to be in for some surprises at what else the game has in store for you.
Deep Loot is an adventure exploration game that focuses on, funny enough, dredging up loot as an ocean diver. As you dive you will combat sea creatures as well as recover gold and relics. The relics are put on display in your warehouse. They serve as a long term completion goal as well as some nice eye candy. Certain dives might even result in finding a message in a bottle, which kicks off a small story line that develops slowly as you find more bottles.
At first glance, the visuals are blocky even for a pixel art game. As you and your diver both get deeper into the game however, you will find more and more little discoveries that include a greater level of detail than the typical blocks you swim past. The game really draws you into these areas and they make each dive a little more unique.
The game starts off slow. Your first few dives might feel pretty similar without too much to differentiate them. After my first 10 or so dives, I started wondering if my guy was invincible. The fish and crabs I encountered near the surface were weak and easily killed. I decided to grab one of the amazing boosts this game has (more on that later) and took to the depths. Even though the internet told me that he shouldn't live in deep water, the shark I met didn't seem to care and made sure it was a pretty short trip.
As you dive, you will also be tasked with completing quests in a system similar to endless runner games that require you kill X monsters or loot Y amount of gold either cumulatively or in a single run. The air supply you bring on your dive is a mechanism that prevents this game from being a true endless run. In fact the game is much more closely related to roguelikes and this comparison will hit home when you realize that underneath the swimming, a turn based system exists.
This game, however, is fluid and allows you to queue up multiple actions and it definitely feels like an action game because all the turn taking is processed with no down time. The only downside is that sometimes a mid course correction is not as responsive as you might like it to be since the game is processing actions turn by turn and cycling through the npc fish. So while its true that fish only act when you act, and air is only depleted when you act, you can get caught up in the gameplay and forget that there is even a turn based element.
Deep Loot is a free to play game. No, let me revise that. Its a good free to play game. There are no ads. You don't need to be connected to the internet to play. Spending money in this game is 100% optional. (Note: For the purposes of this review, I held off on spending money until after I was done writing it.) There are unobtrusive options to purchase gold for real money as well as a coin doubler. The good news is that this is one of my favorite item shops on a free to play game. The only part I dont like is that some of the descriptions for the ships and boosts are vague. If I am going to spend a bunch of gold on a ship, I want to know how it will benefit my little diver man.
I like that the coin acquisition rate is solid on its own. I like that the available upgrades are functional as well as cosmetic. I love the boosts in this game. They are reasonably priced and they have a solid return on investment, but more than that they provide more variety in gameplay. The super boost and the turbo boost dont have the most clear description, but each one will start your dive off at a different atmosphere granting you the ability to scrounge at depths well beyond any dive you can make from the surface. As the water gets deeper, the loot gets better and the creatures get more dangerous.
Many games that have consumable boosts will price them to be unreasonable or not have much of an effect on gameplay, but this is truly where the game strikes a chord with me. You can tell from the elaborate and very satisfying animations that the boosts were made to be used and enjoyed. Since you can usually get enough gold in one dive to cover the cost of a 3-pack of boosts, you can enjoy those animations pretty much every dive too if you want to.
There are plans on expanding to the android platform in the near future. Monster and Monster have also confirmed on our fourms that bug fixes are in the works and after immediate bug fixes have been addressed, we will be seeing new suits, ships, locations and easter eggs. Have I not mentioned the easter eggs? I wont spoil you but you can be sure to find many pop culture references in this game.
One nice thing about the fact that the game starts slow is that this game has a tremendously wide appeal. This is also helped by the easy to understand and operate controls. Despite the 9+ rating, I have no qualms showing this off to anyone that can hold an iPad. Reading skills would help, but you dont need 'em to enjoy this game. All you really need to have is an appetite for exploration.
I would have liked to see Deep Loot launch with some of its planned updates already deployed, but it has earned a spot on my iPad for a lot of reasons. The chiptunes style music draws me in every time I fire it up. The completionist in me wants to keep diving and burning boosts to go deep and the accountant in me loves the value the boosts hold. I didn't expect this type of game from Monster and Monster, but their brand of charm really translates well. Give Deep Loot a little time to sink in, and I think you will be suprised at what you can bring out of it.
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