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Cursed Loot (Xbox 360) artwork

Cursed Loot (Xbox 360) review


"Cheat to win! Or, at least, to shamelessly rehash for fame and profit."



Here’s the worst kept secret in the world of XBLI - Cursed Loot is, effectively, Epic Dungeon dressed up in a few more lairs of finery, and then thrown back on the market to be repurchased anew. Normally, I’d storm atop the moral high ground and bombast this slice of unethical treachery, but I’m not sure how worked up I can get about having to spend the equivalent of $1 on an updated title I’ve already largely enjoyed.

Really, all the update has to offer is a new character class (the sneaky Goblin) and a few appreciated additions like a couple of new perks and a few new tricks and traps. Cursed Loot is a Rouge-like, oft-simplistic games built around the exploration of randomly generated dungeons that, traditionally, are total bastards to complete. Some have no goal other than to delve forward until you die a horrible death and some are wrapped up in plots.Epic Dungeon Cursed Loot is none of the above. There’s a clear goal (get to the end) and a clear way of doing this (kill a lot).

See those strikethroughs? Those are a way of highlighting the fact I’ve lazily started reusing old text from my pre-exiting and now obsolete Epic Dungeon review.

After picking one of four five! character classes, you’re dropped at the top floor of a fifty level randomly generating dungeon and told your only goal it to make it out alive. You’re then absolutely flooded with an army of blood-thirsty rodents. Because [Rats] x 50 = Epic Dungeon Cursed Loot.

Most of the Rogue-ish conventions (still) apply; the game centres around exploring and staying alive long enough to pick through the darkened dungeons, gaining experience points through mindless slaughter, and discovering shiny new equipment through looting, rummaging or purchasing through goblin-owned kiosks. Somewhere out there, through the army of man-eating rodents, are shops that you can sell off unwanted junk and invest in health potions, lamp oil and new ways to maim and destroy. The one fundamental rule still applies: death is permanent. Should you succumb to the inhabitants of any of the monster-packed floors, then game over. No continues, no second chances, you’re dead. Start a second play through, and you may even come across the gravestone of your previous champion’s rotting corpse. Maybe it’ll sober you, or maybe you’ll just ransack it for one of the more powerful items you’d previously hoarded. Or, in one of the new additions, maybe you’ll stumble across a sadistic tombstone-trap that replaces sombre reflections with whirling blades and plummeting health points.

Cursed Loot asset

While Epic Dungeon Cursed Loot does stick to the basics, it’s still not afraid to strike out and forge its own identity. (So long as you discount the original title, who’s rotting corpse it has used as a foundation). Foe floods are fresh enough; most similar titles aren’t shy about battles, but, here, screens are filled with anything from small rodents to vampires or dragons very keen on killing you dead. Wander down a level, and small armies will converge upon you, giving you little time to explore or even get your back to the wall. Special skills you can power up through levels will help; you can have a robotic ally with a mechanical orb that zaps orcs and huge giants alike with forks of electricity, or slow them down with a spell that freezes them in huge slabs of ice. There’s little time to plan your assault; in another step away from the expectations of the genre, the game plays out in real time, meaning that should you pause to plot, the world doesn’t stop with you.

As such, things are played out to a much more frantic pace than expected. Events can turn from satisfactory to sour in the blink of an eye. One second you might be merrily slaughtering the undead, 8-bit giblets and ribcages flying from pummelled foes while bloody puddles form underfoot, when the numbers might suddenly double. Monsters spawn into existence on the spot, popping onto the map randomly and making a beeline straight for you. Perhaps some of these will be highlighted in a yellow ring of light signifying themselves as a beefed up versions of their weaker brethren. Offensive spells and healing potions can only save you for so long, and the promise of permanent death means that late levels are played out on a knife-edge, creeping forward and discovering more of the map before darting back to a safe haven to heal up and replenish goods.

If you’re careful and you’re clever… you still might die at any moment. Flashing yellow question marks represent humorous instances that might reward or doom you. Offering a poorly supplied witch with ingredients for her hex might gain you a magical item or a little bit of extra spending money, but flicking through the dreaded book of the dead might lead to a paper-cut and enough reanimated corpses to drown in. Through its riot-inspired battle themes and unforgiving views on mortality, Epic Dungeon Cursed Loot still manages to retain a sense of humour.

Cursed Loot asset

There’s a huge element of risk to these instances, as there is with every step you take onto a new floor. Some have traps that thrust spike pits up from the floor or walls that try to stab you with spearheads. Others have geysers that spit out molten lava or poisonous fumes. Most just have wall-to-wall hostility. That’s threat enough when your fragility is exaggerated by your inability to shrug off death as a nuisance rather than a game ender. Secret rooms (more easily discovered thanks to a new skill) could uncover a huge treasure trove -- or perhaps a legion of monsters ready to overwhelm you. That last unexplored room might contain an enchanted scroll capable of buffing your equipment permanently. Or it could contain certain death. Situations you might willingly rush into on the first handful of floors suddenly hold so much more gravity when you know you’re only ten levels away from endgame and one bad call might end it all.

Cursed Loot’s shady reboot has certainly had more effort ploughed into it than my rehashed review, and it’s still a good enough – and cheap enough – title to rise above any sense of righteous ire.

Rating: 8/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 16, 2013)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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