So, this week was a tough pick when I sat down on the Thursday to pick this week’s game to play. I looked on Steam and found five games: one MMORPG game in Early Access, one naval combat strategy game, one top down shooter, one medieval strategy game and a plant growing simulator.
And the only two which I liked the look of where the MMORPG game and the top down shooter. The naval combat game didn’t look awful, I’ll admit, but I wasn’t impressed with it enough to feel it was a solid choice, I was turned off the medieval strategy game within seconds of the trailer starting due to how poor it looked and, well, a plant growing simulator isn’t something that you can talk about much. And I know enough about covering an Early Access game to know that you can expect things to change so quickly that it’s nigh on impossible to review them simply because you might find your review is completely negated by the time it goes up, so…yeah, being practical, I actually had only one choice, despite there being five available options.
So yeah, that’s why this week’s game is Relic Hunters Zero. And, being completely honest, it isn’t a bad game, actually! I do have ONE major complaint, but I’ll get to that later: for now, the good!
First of all, the art style is actually fairly good. It has a retro feel to it that, while not exactly pixelated, does bring to mind a more old fashioned video game. I found myself being reminded a little bit of the free game Boxhead, although I think the graphics of that game are far closer to pixels than Relic Hunters Zero choses to go. It’s probably not going to blow your mind if you’re used to more impressive graphics in triple-A gaming, but, for an indie developer, it’s definitely good enough to be recommended on those merits alone.
The gameplay is also very good, with some very fun gunplay and a decent amount of challenge that keeps things interesting for those looking for it. There’s a good variety of weapons and characters available and I can certainly see people playing through the game a lot for those reasons. I’m not sure the decision to briefly pause the game whenever you kill an enemy is necessary, but it does let you know you have killed an enemy, so put it down to stylistic reasons.
The story…well, games like Relic Hunters Zero don’t usually have deep stories, so you’ll not be surprised to find that it doesn’t buck the trend. I do like the fact that the story is more along the lines of you playing a bounty hunter than on a rescue mission, though, which is a nice change from the usual stories you find in top down shooters.
However, my big complaint is the treasure hunting aspect of the game. At the end of levels, you can opt to search for treasure. Now, this isn’t bad in and of itself, but, as far as I can tell, you get NO hints for where the treasure is. Not even a slight sound cue to let you know if you’re going in the right direction: you literally just dig everywhere until you either find it or give up out of frustration and move on…which is fine until you realise that you have to find three relics which are buried in each world. I know, treasure hunting in real life isn’t as easy as in a video game, but I can’t help thinking that there should be something to let you know if you’re getting closer or not because it pads out the game for a reason which isn’t even enjoyable to do.
I also noticed that my laptop struggled to consistently run the game past 60 FPS and several things that were necessary to make the game run at its best didn’t seem compatible with it. Now, my laptop isn’t exactly the best gaming machine out there, but it seems a bit ridiculous that a shooter (and not a particularly graphically intensive one either) is a problem for my laptop to run, considering it’s ran several far more complicated games (like Dawn of War II) without any real complaint.
That said, the treasure hunting frustration and tech issues aside, the game is actually very solid. It does seem like the sort of game I would probably enjoy to play a lot more of in my free time, I just wish there was a slight improvement on the treasure hunting aspect of it, because that’s literally my only main issue with the game (and it’s not even a major one, I’ll admit). Recommended if you like top down shooters, but you’ll have to have a lot of patience for the treasure hunting part of it.