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Review #042: Shadow of the Loot Box (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed By: Frank W.

Developed By: Stately Snail

Published By: Ratalaika Games

Category: First Person, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 11.06.2018

Download Shadow of the Loot Box from the Nintendo eShop here.

Developers, Beware!

Shadow of the Loot Box is a game that attempts to convey a message of caution against some practices that are becoming prevalent in the gaming industry, but does it manage to send that message and succeed as a game? Let's talk about it!

Become the Satire…

This game is a First Person Shooter at heart, and follows the styling and controls of the first generation of the FPS Genre: no regenerating health, no reloading, instant weapon switching, and most encounters tend to devolve into either constant strafing or backpedaling. The game is structured on sixteen levels, with each of the levels being a reference to a negative practice in the gaming industry. Having money and purchasing things from the store is a running theme in this game. Generally, the item you can purchase will make a level MUCH easier, but then if you spend all of your money, there are limited opportunities to earn more. Very occasionally, you will find a spot where you can “watch an ad” in order to get some more money, but that is about it.

We have levels based around copy-and-paste open-world games, games with randomly generated quests, early access games, games with mundane in-game achievements, games with drastic amounts of cut content, as well as a few other bad practices of the industry. The levels can range from semi-entertaining—for a short time—to painfully boring or tedious. It’s better when the game plays toward its shooting, rather than its puzzle-solving and statement-making, I’d say, but there certainly is much merit to the message!

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

You get four weapons in the end: an infinite ammo pistol, a close range shotgun, an automatic rifle, and a rocket launcher. Aside from the rocket launcher, they all feel pretty similar to one another, but the damage increase of the weapons certainly incentivizes using the right weapon for the right situation. Your enemies mostly consist of loot boxes and micro-transactions on angry little screens. The loot boxes are your classic mimic-style monster visually, but any joy that gives you quickly wear off after you've killed as many of them as you do over the course of this game. There are some variations, but this is the bulk of what you will be killing. There are, however, four bosses in the game that have a bit more to their mechanics than just shooting them, so that was nice!

Wrapping Up

While certainly good for the occasional laugh, or a tongue-in-cheek reference to a bigger game franchise or developer, Shadow of the Loot Box falls flat in its gameplay, and feels repetitive and unrewarding. Most of my time spent with the game was spent begrudgingly trudging through the game as it danced about, making me suffer through level after level of tongue-in-cheek stabs that evoked less thought and more annoyance at the end of the day.

This is a weird generation of gaming. Game-wise, it’s been better than the last generation if you ask me, but we are having some terrible business practices come out in the AAA industry. Making a sub-par game to try and educate people about the existence of these practices, however, isn’t going to imprint any lasting thoughts on anyone. It was a valiant effort, and Shadow of the Loot Box isn’t without its chuckle-inducing moments—some of the boss fights are even fun, too—but in the end, Shadow of the Loot Box is a less-than-stellar gaming experience that is a little too heavy-handed in demonstrating the message it is sending, however valid the issues with said practices may be.

Final Score: 4/10

Download Shadow of the Loot Box from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided By Ratalaika Games

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