REVIEW: Loot or Die

I may get some hate mail / bewildered comments for this, but what the hell; in a lot of ways (and certainly in the spots where it really counts), Loot or Die ($1.00) could be considered a 2D Destiny. Yes, that Destiny. Granted, that’s not an absolute, end-all comparison1, and no one’s going to mistake the art styles from one game or the other, content, etc., but the idea of collecting better armor and weapons to take on tougher challenges is as important (and fun) here as it is in Bungie’s brilliant but flawed magnum opus.

Loot or Die - Screen

Chris Antoni’s newest (and certainly his most complete) game isn’t quite on that same level, but a similar logic— and gameplay mechanic— applies; you explore a series of planets / locations, defeating increasingly-tough enemies and bosses, with the hope that they will drop rewards, your only currency and means of countering later worlds and foes. It’s that simple. The game’s title says so, and makes it abundantly clear what its— and your— repeated objective is; you sir, must loot, or die trying. And oftentimes, that latter option is your only option, until the RNG Gods smile upon you and bless you with better gear and stronger weapons.

Thankfully, you won’t necessarily be going alone. Loot or Die allows you to form a fireteam of up to four, using a drop-in drop-out multiplayer in any of the game’s modes. Rolling with friends to tackle the game in co-op increases the challenge (enemies have their own attacks / patterns), but also your enjoyment. Even playing with randoms on earlier planets can test seasoned players, as your gear and items will smartly adjust to that planet’s difficulty.

Speaking of that gear, each item and weapon in the game carries stats that affect things like your total health, overall damage dealt, etc. Equipment ranges from helmets and chest pieces, to pistols, rifles, and machine guns, while special ‘rings’ will grant you perks when equipped, both offensive (doom blades!) and defensive (healing). There’s also a chance to find ‘epic’ versions of the armor and guns, imbued with an additional status bonus that can transform an otherwise regular item into a vital piece of armament.

It’s a nuanced leveling process, enabling those who take the time to study each item. On the flipside, those same items can lull you into a false sense of superiority. You can leave one planet / boss encounter feeling like a veritable badass, only to be immediately and decisively humbled on the next. Part of the fun is in dying though, and learning new tricks or testing out new combinations. Just be sure to leave extra room in your inventory at all times2, as each boss is guaranteed to drop an epic item of some sort.

Loot or Die - Screen2

Should you tire of the main game and have a competitive side, you can always take things to the PvP arena to settle any doubts about who has the best loadout / humblebrag3. Your stat bonuses attached to your armor and guns really come into play here, as you trade off between things like ring cooldowns, healing, or stealing life from your opponents as you deal damage. Regardless of loadout, it’s a chaotic battle royale for up to eight players.

Beyond that, there’s still plenty to do if you so desire. Much like Destiny, it’s arguable that Loot or Die is even better in its ‘end game’ than it is in its traditional ‘campaign’ mode. A sixth ‘planet’ is unlocked when you complete the game, putting you up against all of the bosses you’ve fought previously, in new, devious pairings, while ‘Defend The Flag’ functions as a sort-of ‘Horde’ setting with an emphasis on defense, having you outlast waves of enemies on a timer. Both modes offer up intense challenges, requiring effective teamwork but also rewarding you with some of the very best weapons and armor in the game should you succeed.

The good news is, you won’t mind the grind to earn any of those rewards or the grief from any of your potential failures. From start to finish, it’s all just… really satisfying. There’s very little to take issue with here, and the developer continues to tweak the game and add new content4 based on community feedback. Ultimately, you won’t play Loot or Die for its storyline (it’s nonexistent!) or its hyper-realistic visuals (or lack thereof); you’ll play Loot or Die because it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And fun beats out everything else.

  1. See that there? That could be taken as immediate backtracking, rendering your hate mail / bewildered comments invalid. I don’t take a concrete position, and I win no matter what! Man, I love being the boss of my own site. 
  2. Something I wasn’t too good at keeping in check. I screwed myself out of some potentially cool rewards more than a few times. 
  3. Like, say, having a kickass gun named after you, one that fires the logo of your site as bullets. Yeah, that actually happens. Thanks, Chris! 🙂 
  4. An upcoming update will add even more ‘end game’ rewards / drops, increasing variety, …and giving you even more reason to grind out a few more rounds, natch. Happy hunting, and good luck. 

58 thoughts on “REVIEW: Loot or Die”

  1. I don’t know if Chris was going to mention it, and delete if it is inappropriate content (to XBLIG, at least) but it appears Loot or Die has been Greenlit on Steam! Hopefully Mr. Antoni can keep us up-to-date on where it stands for release, but it will give us an opportunity to delve deep into Looting and Dying after 360 support withers away.

    1. DELETED! So so so so very inappropriate for XBLIG!! 😀

      Rather, thanks for the info! I actually went back on his tweets and saw it after you had mentioned it, so that is awesome news. And my PC should probably (hopefully) maybe possibly be able to run it, so I’ve got a Steam purchase at some point in the future.

    2. Oh it’s not released yet, my good man, just given the green light, so to speak. 🙂 I’m assuming Chris has some work to do ‘under the hood’ to get things moving. I’d link the Steam page for you, but it doesn’t seem to be working, for whatever reason.

      EDIT: Nevermind. Here you go.

    3. My own show!? Ah yes, I can almost see it now….

      (From offstage, a slightly-disheveled man saunters into frame. He is wearing a bland suit two sizes too small for him, and an archaic-looking orange tie. It hangs loose, and the knot appears to have been tied incorrectly, but the man doesn’t pay it much attention. It’s a running theme with him. At first glance, he is average in every way, invisible to most, and seems to carry an incredible weight on his shoulders, the result of some unknown menace or— more likely— machination of his own doing.)

      (He sits down at a small table, and picks up a game controller. There are some prepared notes off to the side. He reads a few lines to himself, nods in a sort of muted acceptance of the duties required, and pushes them away. On the television behind him, the picture now flashes some random indie game title screen and the appropriate soundtrack to match.)

      (The stage lighting begins to brighten. In front of him, the LED on the camera turns to red, signaling it is now recording. From somewhere, sounding detached and very far away, a voice counts down from five. The room’s lighting reaches its highest setting, bathing the entire stage in an unnatural but camera-friendly glow.)

      (As the voice ends its monotone recital, the man manages an uneven smile, adjusts his tie to make it a little less terrible, and stares somewhat confidently into the camera’s alien lens. It’s a practiced routine, one he almost has down flawlessly.)

      Hello out there, and welcome to Hurley in the Morning, your least favorite source… haha… for videogame news. Let’s get started with this wreck of a show, eh? Haha…

    4. Yes it’s greenlit but there is a lot of work to do under the hood. The xblig net code won’t work with steam so I’m designing steam lobbies for multiplayer. I’ll try to post updates… For now I have the mouse aiming done and power bar from lod2 in the game.

      Thanks for the support!

    5. No problem, good sir! After the debacle that’s been the final month before XBLIG shutdown (at least you guys could finally get your games out and working!), I’m sure you’re anxious to get things going on more reliable platforms. 🙂

    6. The game is officially ready to be released… I just got to push the big shiny, green button. All your weapons are still in the game btw 😉

      Planned release is Friday but I’m hovering over that button now cause I want to play lol!

    7. Haha, I get that way with stuff too. I’ll finish with something and want to put it out right away, because why wait, right? Hey, it’s your work and your game, sir, you push that button when you want!

      And those guns are epic! Named after epic people! Glad we can share our epic-ness with a wider audience. 🙂

    8. You guys helped fuel the community for Loot or Die and frankly most of my games, so it was the least I could do.

  2. Is the last code still available? If not, I’ll be gladly willing to support Chris’s biggest project.

    I’m sorry that I only show up to get some free games, never to appear again. I don’t want to be that guy. I’ll try to be around more often.

    1. @AxelMill98: Oh man, it’s ‘that guy’ again? Yeah, yeah, I’ve got a code left… 😀 Kidding, kidding, it’s all good. Chris didn’t mind handing out codes for the game, because he’s just truly interested in having people play the game however they can. Can’t argue with that. 😉

      Code will be sent soon!

  3. So for the people who now have played the game after reading this article, what do you think? Did you get the play when a lot of other people were on?

    1. It’s your best game Chris. Took everything you been learning from the others and put them into this work of art. I haven’t played it much due to several factors but I did enjoy the time I have played.

    2. Well Chris, you do games as much as Ron Jeremy did girls, I will give you that. I think the game is fun, alas, I have not tried online yet. I honestly think you are a bit lazy about the artwork, I know xblig is becoming lost cause moment by moment but a visual creativity will not be bad. Overall is a pretty good game. Thx to Tim and to you for the code.

      And I have to congratulate Tim for keeping this little community alive, we are few, but he still do his work. Like a illegal strip club that just got raid by cops, you are still showing us where to put our dollars.

    3. @Metallord get your gun yet? I’d be happy to help 🙂

      @xionix Aw I tried really hard to come up with a graphic style for the game… you should have seen my pathetic attempts to create color palettes and add some shading effects to the drawings. Besides the art I tried to have a lot of motion in the game which I think is why people find it to be fun. Feeling like you have subtle control over everything makes a big difference (which all my other games lacked).

      But by far, the thing that keeps people coming back to this kind of like an MMO is the multplayer. Nothing like duking it out only to find out that your invincible loadout isn’t quite as good as you thought.

      On weekends there tends to be more people online, and once the next patch rolls out a lot more end game players will be back in the mix. They’ll be in for a big surprise when they try to help you level though… hehe… Maybe I’ll see you online! Gamertag: headache4u

    4. @ALL: Sorry I wasn’t on to play this past weekend. I somehow, in the moment, forgot that it was Mother’s Day weekend. Not sure how I managed to forget something like that. 😉 Next time, for sure, or if any of you guys organize a game this week with Chris, let me know. I’d jump in for a few levels, if possible.

      @ImTheMetalLord: Agreed. Not to take anything away from Chris or his other games, but certainly Loot or Die feels like his most complete game yet. He’s definitely taken the lessons learned from previous releases and applied them here. It’s been awesome to see the evolution from game to game. Oh, and I’d gladly give you one of your namesake guns (I’ve found a bunch of them!), but you’ll have to earn it, sir. Such is the way of the world. 🙂

      @xionix55: Haha, you never fail to illustrate the point perfectly. I’m proud to keep the illegal strip club known as ‘XBLIG’ open for business… and, er… dollars. 😀 The game’s art is what it is, and yeah, personally, I hope Chris can one day work with an artist to fully realize his designs. Hey, maybe for a Loot or Die sequel? Not just for the improved visuals, but for a whole new set of players that may have passed the game up purely because the art style might not have appealed to them. They’d be missing out on a lot of fun. The game’s a blast with others.

  4. Huh? This sites still LIVES? Its been a while since a saw a review I though this was long gone. I can’t reply directly to the comment so, you got any code lefts? As far as you review goes, its seems like a very good indie game. I dont like the artwork (own personal opinion) but if the gameplay its cool I dont really care. And in the end Tim, nobody knows what happens more often, a stripper making you strugglig with your pants or a game made by Chris Antoni.

    1. Yes sir, still have two codes, so I will send one your way in a few minutes. Let me know if you have any stripper friends that would like the other code. 😉

      The site’s still around, just had a bit of a delay. It was a dry month for new releases, and then Chris had asked me to hold off reviewing the game until he had released the first update. Then, just as the update was out, XBLIG went down, and no one could download any of the new releases, or the new update for Loot or Die. Long story short, I was stuck having to wait for XBLIG to come back up, and then wait for the weekend, so I could get some more time in with the game. 🙂

  5. I’ve been operating without a monitor/tv larger than 19″ and haven’t been playing much of anything lately. I did buy this and played for a short bit and thought it was wonderful tbh. With baseball season in full effect and the monitor/tv issue my game playing is down a lot. But look forward to soon being able to play this and finding my namesake gun is a must.

    1. Yikes, that sucks. Can’t blame you for staying away from gaming when you’re working with a screen that size. Your namesake gun will wait for you, patiently.

      As for baseball, I’d brag about my Cubs having a better record than the DBacks (which they do… 😀 ), but they’ve been on a bad slide the last five / six games. I think they’re about to even out at .500 and stay that way the rest of the season, unfortunately. Damn Cardinals have to go and ruin everything in our division every damn year… grrrr…

    2. I don’t worry about wins and losses till the ASB. I lie I lie..I track it like crazy. The math of baseball is so intriguing and keeps me excited and watching games most every night is better than most other things for me

      Hey the cubbies finally got them a mascot after 100 years. And one game over 500 isn’t much to brag about. Dbacks are only one game under. 😛

      New TV/Monitor came in today so either maybe this weekend I’ll be set back up but still 3-4 hours almost everyday is watching baseball.

    3. Haha, that’s why I didn’t consider it much to brag about. They (Cubs) did manage to win today, though, despite nearly blowing the game late. I don’t get to watch whole games really, but I’m good for four to five innings, if they’re playing at night. I think the last complete game I watched was one I was actually at. 😀

  6. Wow thanks for that review!!! The best part about this game is playing with everyone, so please let me know when you need a little leveling help (gamertag: headache4u).

    Patch 2.0 will be out probably next week. I am adding:

    Home level (safe area that includes item vault and practice dummy)
    Lifesteal nerf.
    Space Bazooka attack speed nerf.

    New World 6 and Flag Defend Mode Items:
    Flame Thrower that shoots through walls!
    2 Rings (one of them projects a bullet shield in front of you)
    3 Armor Sets
    2 Additional Weapons

    Once that update is live, I will be focusing on PvP improvements (I’m dreaming of vehicles, but we’ll see).

    1. @Chris: What, no more rapid-fire space bazooka!?! Guess you’ll have to rely on your dual doom blades more. 😛

      Seriously, though, I feel I do have to thank you again for carrying me through the last planet and boss mode… even those times when I had a full inventory and rendered your efforts meaningless. 🙂

    2. LOL no worries. Like I said the fun part is playing with people. I can’t wait to try the new shield ring in pvp too… Doom Blades? Well looks like my ring blocked them hehe and here comes a salvo of shots behind the shield. Can’t wait >:-)

    3. Here is a quick video of some changes coming with the next patch:

    4. looks like I’ve got some major grinding to do.. good thing I work at a hardware store. wink* wink*

  7. I haven’t been able to spend much time with the game lately, but it is undoubtedly, incredibly, fun. The rate at which loot drops is amazing, and you may find yourself having to review your inventory every few minutes. I’m not sure it will supplant Block King as my favorite XBLIG multiplayer game … but it is close. Great review Tim. And I’m still looking for my namesake (and Derp’s!) gun … must grind until I get it. : )

    1. @andregurov: Thank you, thank you. I’m actually surprised I haven’t come across Derp’s gun yet (I’ve found ImTheMetalLord’s like six times now!), but I do feel special for finding the new gun Chris added for boss mode. According to him, Derp has yet to get that one, so I may hold a…. temporary, edge over him. 😉

      Oh, and yes, absolutely take that advice to clear out your inventory often; nothing worse than beating a boss and seeing ‘bags full’ when an epic item is on the line… 😦

  8. Eager to… umm… Loot… or… Die… yourself? I’ve got FIVE codes for the game to hand out, courtesy of the always-generous Mr. Antoni. Reply to this comment with your desire to acquire free stuff, and I shall send you a code posthaste1!

    1. Unless I’m at work, in which case, you may have to wait several hours. But, I mean, you’ll get the game eventually. 
    1. Hi Tim,
      Game looks fun, $1 is cheap but free is even better, so it would be great if you could send me a code.

    2. @Jeremy & paddi101: Absolutely! Codes will be coming your respective ways shortly!

      Still TWO left, for anybody who’s curious about the game.

    3. Thanks for the code Tim, and thanks to Chris for the game. Looking forward to playing it after getting all the trivial stuff like work and voting in the election out of the way!

    4. @paddi101: Haha, yep, the trivial stuff that life likes to throw at you. Well, technically, it’s always one politician or the other, and nothing ever changes anyway. Ha, agreed.

    1. A lot of people would, I think, once XBLIG is mentioned. It’s a running theme. 😉 Just as many might skip it based on my calling it a Destiny-like, figuring ‘why bother with a repetitive shooter with no story’ (as Destiny is often labeled). Then again, you’ve got another crowd that is just as passionate about extolling the virtues of Destiny, so I feel like that tag could split people right down the middle. Either way, Loot or Die is really fun stuff to play through.

    2. just say “Borderlands” instead.. that game is more neutral with the community and just as similar in comparison haha. but anyways.. let’s get together and play some more co-op/pvp. I’m jonesing for it, he-he

    3. @Jordan Michael: That’s very true. Funny thing is, it’s never felt like a Borderlands to me. The loot drops are certainly as generous here, no doubt, but I’m not sure why it hasn’t clicked. Could be related to the fact that I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Destiny, so I’m likely to see that game in everything else I play. 😉

      I do fully intend to keep playing Loot or Die, though, and Chris has already said he’s got a few more updates in the works. Hoping to jump on again this Saturday night or Sunday night, try to acquire some more epic stuff so I stand a chance against some of you guys in the PvP arena. 😀

    4. ha yeh, I’ve spent many a nights playing borderlands so I guess that’s why It comes to mind. heard that.. I’ve done minimal grinding since we last played but I’m still down for this weekend; if time permits. You don’t have to worry about me.. I’m no imminent threat 😀

    5. @Jordan Michael: Ha, yeah, especially not when I’ve got that spread-shot cannon from going through the boss mode. Unless you’ve got armor / healing to soak up that damage, I would probably tear through you guys no problem… Well, at least until Chris nerfs the gun with the next update… 😛

    6. For my own knowledge, is there any one particular reason why you would have passed it up? Do I need better screenshots or title image maybe? Thanks

    7. Yeah, I think it’s just as Alan said, and as you well know, with the recent download troubles / lack of exposure that XBLIG gets. I think you had mentioned putting your logo on the box art, which will help others find ‘your’ particular brand. Other than that, it’s mainly ‘word of mouth’, YouTube, and the rare instances of press coverage. Not much else Devs can do, I’m afraid.

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