Every so often, a little title comes across our desk at Massively OP that I flag as something to keep an eye on. MMOs with potential, so to speak. The other week it happened to be Kingdom of Loot, which belied its trying-too-hard-to-be-meta name with an intriguing premise: What if MMOs had been made for the Super NES?
The graphics and reported accessibility appealed to me, so for the return of Try-It Tuesday, I gave it a shot to see how it’s doing in its current (early access) form.
There’s definitely a strong SNES vibe with this one, both in its graphics and with the title theme, which sounds about three notes off from Legend of Zelda. I know pixel art isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I still love it (it’s colorful and exudes personality, not to mention has a connection to my gaming past), and I think they did a really great job here.
Right now there are only five classes available with, by my count, 12 more on the way. I went with an Archer because nothing else that could be played looked super-exciting. As of right now, at least, there are no ways to visually customize your character, so every archer is going to be a blonde girl and that’s that.
Without any introduction, the game shoves a basic tutorial screen at you and then leaves you to make your own way. It starts off in a cute little fantasy town that looks like it would be at home in some old-school adventure game. There are a few expected vendors, banks, etc., and a quest board that was… not functional at the time of play. Oh well, guess I’ll head out and just see what there is to see.
One design option that I really liked is how most of the UI is hidden off to the top, left, right, and bottom of the screen, leaving the game clean unless you needed something. At level one, there wasn’t much to see — no skills, basic gear, standard settings, some chat and party options (this being an MMO and all).
Transitions between zones and the overworld have a 3.5″ floppy saving/loading icon, which amused me.
I think the absolute best thing Kingdom of Loot has going for it right now are some really, really well-done graphics. They’re animated (those clouds float across the screen) and the world looks very accessible and attractive. It’s a little like Chrono Trigger, just in a better resolution.
Figuring out something to do without any quests left me wandering into the nearby forest and plinking away at level one plants for a while. This game is Diablo-esque in its makeup, which means click to move, click to attack, and presumably uses number keys for special attacks (I didn’t get any in the first two levels). Loot explodes out of creatures and that’s pretty much it.
Here’s the thing with Diablo clones: If you’re going that route, you have to have extremely tight and responsive controls. The combat has to FEEL great… and Kingdom of Loot only feels adequate. I’m not attacking as quickly as I’m clicking, movement felt a little mushy, and it’s confusing as all get out what loot is mine to get and what is for other players (plus, the game sometimes but not always picks up loot when you walk over it, so I was clicking on each piece of loot/gold to make sure).
In summary, it is a cute game but it feels like there’s just a shell here that needs a lot more work, polish, and content.
OK, a little post-script rant about early access. This screen right here is one of the big problems with early access. It’s not just a deflection of criticism saying that “remember, it’s still in early access!” but it’s also a celebration of the state of the game, like early access is now seen as some type of gaming genre and is something other than a glorified alpha (or pre-alpha) test. I can’t tell you how much it bugs me when studios announce a “launch” of a game into early access, because there’s no launch about it. It’s doublespeak for a modern development age that tries to elevate these tests as actual games and then excuses itself from any complaints because, “remember this is still early access! teehee look at our cute graphic!”