Shadow of Loot Box
Developer: Stately Snail
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Release Date: 6 November 2018
Price: $7.99 / £7.99
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Over the years, a handful of games have been created strictly as parodies, with The Stanley Parable leading the charge. Shadow of Loot Box, from developer Stately Snail, is a culmination of everything you can find in video games today – with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly included. Unfortunately, it goes a little too far and the essence of the message they’re trying to convey is lost due to the gameplay just not being fun.
Looting and Shooting
From big companies using microtransactions, to the overabundance of indie titles using procedural generation and survival mechanics, a whole host of current video game trends get the parody treatment. There are plenty of other jokes on this adventure, mocking glitches, bad programming, incorrectly implemented shading - there’s even a level without textures. The developers made sure to hit on every troublesome trend in the medium.
Most levels change the theme and the overall goal, allowing Shadow of Loot Box to poke fun at different trends in each area. For example, in the first level you have to walk around and gain experience orbs to level up your skills. The first set you unlock are the abilities to run, jump and pull levers. That’s right – you actually have to unlock the most basic actions found in any video game by levelling up in the first stage.
'What the Heck?'
A few levels later, you have to complete a set of mundane tasks, like jumping and pulling a lever a certain amount of times, in order to acquire a key and move onto the next stage. Early on you’re introduced to the first-person shooter perspective and, to be blunt, it’s not good – even though I think that’s meant to be on purpose. I couldn’t adjust the sensitivity of the analogue sticks to my liking, making it a frustrating endeavour to say the least.
There are only a few enemies in Shadow of Loot Box, and once you learn their patterns of attack, they’re easy enough to dispense with. Some have a few quirks though, including one who’s weakpoint is actually above the body because it was programmed so badly.
It’s funny in a sadistic sort-of way, but the joke wears off quickly, especially if you’re playing on higher difficulties – one annoying boss just runs at you and becomes hard to hit. In the level without textures, there’s a giant dragon that’s somewhat fun to take on because it had an 8-bit feel to it.
Are We Having Fun Yet?
While the game does make you laugh, it doesn’t do enough to make you think critically about the industry issues highlighted here. Many of the jokes are funny at first but, after a few moments, they wear out and get boring. Thankfully, most levels are short. However, some of the earlier stages drag on for too long, which could make players quit before getting to grips with the message the developer is trying to convey.
Shadow of Loot Box is a cheap parody title that does a decent job of what it’s trying to accomplish. You’ll laugh on occasion, but there is no replayability – and trying to make controversial subjects fun is its greatest downfall. Some of the humour has a shelf life, if you like delving deeper into the intricacies of video game development. But, unfortunately, it’s hard to find too much enjoyment beyond its funniest jokes.
Pros & Cons
+ Great message if you can look past faults
+ Music is fine
- Gameplay is unintuitive and unenjoyable
- On-purpose glitches get annoying
- Jokes usually don't land
- Poor controls