Shadow of Loot Box is a retro first-person shooter available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Shadow of Loot Box was originally created by Stately Snail before Ratalaika Games developed and published a port to PS4 and more platforms besides. Can Shadow of Loot Box deliver a humorous take on modern day gaming via the first-person shooter genre?
Shadow of Loot Box’s main premise is to produce a poetic play on words of modern day gaming’s insistence on microtransactions, loot boxes, season passes and glitches, while having the art direction of an aesthetically retro first-person shooter. There are 16 themed levels and four enemy bosses; the first level is not a tutorial as such, but there are no enemies instead focusing on solving puzzles through learning the required skills. However, the second level introduces enemies and a fun take on procedurally generated quests including destroying three red loot boxes, delivering a letter to a particular person and collecting blue and red mushrooms with each successfully completed quest providing a loot box and a key as a reward, although emphasis is placed on the key as four keys are required to open a door in order to exit the second level. Meanwhile, the third level involves having to successfully complete 11 achievements including purchasing a common loot box, a premium loot box, standing on the spot for 20 seconds, jumping 25 times and much more besides.
Character design revolves around unlocking skills to be able to perform a range of actions that your character is unable to do so at the beginning of the first level by earning experience points in order to level up with each levelling up affording a skill point to unlock an attribute. Skills include running, jumping, interacting with objects, opening doors, increasing your character’s maximum health, increasing the damage dealt to enemies from individual weapons and increasing the quantity of ammo found in loot boxes. The player meets ally characters along the way that provide quests such as a person referred to as the Wanderer that appears in three locations, villagers, abstract characters, a skit on the Assassin’s Creed character model that had no facial textures and even a boar. Enemy design includes loot boxes walking around on legs with claws reminiscent to that of a crab or a variation that spits acid towards your character and a loot box with a $10 price tag on the front that turns into an angry face when pursuing your character, alongside four enemy bosses including a flame breathing dragon and ultimate loot boxes.
Environment design spans multiple areas including the interior of a castle, forests, a snowy landscape and more besides, while every level is themed on a different topic of subject matter from the modern day gaming industry. Exploring levels thoroughly rewards the player with some clever references such as a green tube to jump down in the style of Mario; situated within one of the forests.
Weaponry is provided in the form of a pistol with infinite ammo from the second level onwards, while other weapons are gradually discovered within loot boxes such as a shotgun, an automatic rifle and a rocket launcher. Every weapon looks and sounds unique with a varying quantity of impact on enemies as though they were inspired by retro first-person shooters such as Life Force Tenka.
Shadow of Loot Box’s gameplay thrives on humour within its core subject matter. For instance, a single level themed on glitches in gaming features a character model without any facial textures in reference to Assassin’s Creed, objects floating in the air, a pressure pad not remaining still despite being needed for a puzzle, collision detection being off and more besides. Meanwhile, there is an in-game shop that the player can use in-game currency to purchase common loot boxes and premium loot boxes, alongside level specific shortcuts such as exchanging in-game currency for a bridge rather than walking the long way around to progress through a particular level.
Ratalaika Games have announced that Shadow of Loot Box will not be receiving a Vita port, despite their best efforts to optimise gameplay performance for Vita, although remote play is a consolation. Shadow of Loot Box’s remote play performance is pretty good as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version. However, there is no remote play control optimisation resulting in the player having to get used to tapping the top right of the rear touch pad to fire a weapon when it would have been a much better suited remote play control scheme if firing would have been remapped to R, especially given the fact that pressing up or down on the d-pad is an alternative to cycling through weapons instead of that being mapped to R and L. After a bit of gameplay to become accustomed to needing to use the rear touch pad; Shadow of Loot Box is actually quite a playable remote play experience.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to fire a weapon or throw an object; pressing R1 or L1 or alternatively pressing up or down on the d-pad to cycle through weaponry; pressing L2 or O to jump; pressing X to interact with an object; pressing square to directly view skills and the shop; pressing triangle to directly view loot boxes; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim or look around your character’s surroundings; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Vibration occurs when an enemy loot box attacks your character and when revealing the contents of a collected or purchased loot box. However, there is no touch pad implementation that could have been utilised as a further alternative to switching weapons by swiping back and forth, while there is no light bar support that could have provided an alternative HUD for your character’s health.
Graphically, Shadow of Loot Box is retro stylised, while there are some modern visual subtle details such as swaying foliage in forest levels, the fringes of the screen turning red when your character is low on health as a retro take on a modern HUD and fun enemy models.
Shadow of Loot Box’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds include a scene from one of the forest levels with swaying foliage and a loot box crab staring in your direction.
There is no character voice-overs as communication between your character and the ally characters the player meets is displayed via speech bubbles. Sound effects include firing weapons at loot boxes, loot boxes clawing and spitting at your character, throwing objects, collecting items, loot boxes and keys, running and jumping; accompanied by instrumental piano. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced sound effects and music.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 0 bronze trophies, 2 silver trophies, 11 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The majority of the trophies are rather easy including the Spender gold trophy for spending all in-game currency; the Just This Time gold trophy for purchasing one item on store; the Jumper silver trophy for purchasing the jump skill; and the One More Time silver trophy for spending half the in-game currency. The only trophy that is not clear on exactly what the player needs to do is the Assassin gold trophy for taking a leap of faith; it turns out that this trophy is actually a reference to Assassin’s Creed as the playable character has to reach the top of a tower in the desert level followed by jumping onto a haystack. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 2 to 4 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and hard with the major differences between each difficulty being an increase in the damage dealt by enemies, alongside an increase in enemy health, therefore requiring better movement and more accurate shots to defeat each enemy.
Shadow of Loot Box does not feature any split-screen competitive or co-operative multiplayer, although it would have been amazing to see the humorous gameplay expanded to provide a multiplayer adaptation involving the current views on local multiplayer within the modern day gaming industry.
Shadow of Light Box’s replayability mostly originates from its humorous gameplay depicting the modern gaming industry throughout the course of 16 levels and four enemy bosses, although even thorough exploration of each level only provides a maximum of two hours worth of gameplay per playthrough, but the humorous nature of the gameplay will definitely have the player returning for at least a second playthrough. Split-screen multiplayer would have increased the replay value by being able to experience the gameplay co-operatively or competitively with family and friends.
• Title: Shadow of Loot Box
• Developer: Stately Snail (Original Developer)/Ratalaika Games (PS4 Port)
• Publisher: Ratalaika Games
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• PS4 Hard Drive Space Required: 230.8MB