Tag Archives: Chris Antoni (Developer)

REVIEW: Loot Or Die 2

For me, the first Loot or Die was an enjoyable shooter that scratched a 2D Destiny-like itch, handing over generous amounts of loot in exchange for a run through simplistic space environments filled with various, spongy enemies. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Loot or Die 2 ($1.00) does all that again, and again cribs a little bit more of Destiny‘s approach to shoot and loot, with similarly fun results….. provided you still like to grind for hours on end achieving the desired statistics and perks for your armor and weapons1.

Loot or Die 2 - Screen

This game (as well as the first one) isn’t nearly as deep and grind-y as Bungie’s space opus, but it’s still has that familiar undercurrent that runs throughout. You can roll solo, or form a fireteam of four to tackle everything in co-op. Levels are straightforward affairs, Point A to Point B (save for the new ‘Patrol’ and Defend’ mission types, which are just glorified ‘kill all the enemies’ types), defeat a boss with an easily recognizable pattern to earn a loot drop, and repeat.

Which is fine, because Loot or Die 2 gives you what any good sequel should; more of what you liked about the original. In this case, it’s chasing new and improved armor, weapons, and runes (think special abilities) across several locales and planets, fighting numerous— albeit same-y— enemies and a handful of bosses. That idea of loot-based progress is fun, and felt incrementally, slowly building you up to take on the next planet’s deadlier (read: spongier) foes.

Similar to Destiny’s enjoyable leveling-up, you must seek out various materials to ‘mod’ your weapons and equipment, giving them new perks and increasing their effectiveness. They can range from granting you additional currency and materials, allowing you to use your abilities more often, or to being able to heal yourself faster and better, among others. Leveling up these attributes won’t (generally) break the game’s systems2 and make you an untouchable badass, but it does go a long way to convincing you can be, while letting you choose your preferred style of play.

Loot or Die 2 - Screen2

Other improvements include daily quests to complete for guaranteed high-level loot, a hub world for players to gather up and set off on missions, and a vault for storing and organizing your most precious loot. Granted, you can finish the game in about an hour, but there is no set ‘end’. The game’s new prestige mode effectively lets you play forever, scaling up the enemies and your weapons each time you reset the game world.

On the downside, the difficulty this time around isn’t as drastic (meaning the title of the game isn’t quite as literal); I was able to progress pretty far on subsequent planets just by using armor and weapons I found early on. Also worth noting, Loot or Die 2 doesn’t include a player-versus-player mode / arenas like the original game. The solid co-op makes up for that to a degree, but it would have been nice to have the option return for the sequel.

These are minor quibbles in the grand scheme, however, as you’ll be far too busy trying on new armor and testing out new weapons to care. If fun is the measure by which you judge something’s worth, this game accomplishes that mission easily. Loot or Die 2 doesn’t feel as fresh or as memorable as the first game, but it’s still just as satisfying to grind for the perfect loadout now as it was then.


  1. I know I do, because I’m a very sick person. I need help. 
  2. Unless you go with a build that lets you constantly regenerate health and steal health from your enemies, like me. Hey, it’s not cheating if the game allows for it! :) 
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REVIEW: Block Ops

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; looks aren’t everything. Especially first looks. Coming across like the blocky, red-headed offspring of Loot or Die and listing its wares like any annual Call of Duty title (…without its third dimension), Block Ops ($1.00) nonetheless manages to merge those two very different games into a solid and fun (but at most times lonely1) experience.

Block Ops - Screen

It’s starts off timid. Where Loot or Die provided a lengthy campaign mode and new, constantly-dropping weapons and armor to satisfy your inner hoarder, Block Ops strips away everything but the visuals and interface of that game, replacing its innards with a (only occasionally compelling) zombie wave shooter2. You can shuffle your perks and loadouts (more on that later) to meet the challenge as needed, but most of it boils down to shooting a few zombies, retreating a few steps, shooting more, so on and so forth.

Enemies get tougher and more numerous as the waves go on, naturally, although you’re able to circumvent most of that trouble by following the instructions above in some form or variation. To judge it by that bit alone, Block Ops isn’t very deep or interesting. Thankfully, things perk up once you take it online. The game supports up to 16 players in a Deathmatch or Flag King mode, across a handful of stage types with mild platforming.

Here, you can pick your weapon class (shotgun, SMG, sniper) and choose from a wide range of perks, both passive abilities and those you can activate to get the drop on your opponents. That’s where the Call of Duty aspect (and fun) kicks in, allowing you to buff your play style as it suits you. Want double damage with your first shot? Pair it with a sniper rifle to one-hit fools. Landmines in mid-air? You bet. Leave a trail of fire behind you to burn your pursuers, then warp ahead to confuse them further? Even better. The mix-and-match possibilities are numerous, and the subsequent fights are awesome and definitely unpredictable.

Block Ops - Screen2

And therein lies the conundrum. If you’re going into this primarily as a solo player, the zombie stuff is meh at best, skippable otherwise. A glorified distraction to earn some experience points offline. On the other hand, Block Ops truly shines when playing with others in its chaotic deathmatch arenas, making the zombie wave shooter portion worth it to gain a few levels and unlockable currencies while waiting for your buddies. So then, the equation becomes quite simple; friends = yes, solo = no. Do your own math accordingly.


  1. Because XBLIG. Unless you’re organizing a game night yourself, or heading over to the developer’s page to add your name to a list of people looking to play, you’re not going to find anyone online. 
  2. That, like everything else, is better with friends. Speaking of which, a big thank you to Mr. Chris Antoni, andregurov, and nyan cat 543, for playing a few rounds of Deathmatch and Flag King with me. Some good games, guys (minus andregurov‘s cheap move at the end of the night; I’ll get you next time for that)! 

REVIEW: Block King 2

Much like the original, the genius (those always judging books by their covers would say anti-genius) of Block King 2 ($1.00) isn’t in its basic, blocky1 looks or its limited selection of game modes; it’s in its uncanny ability to bring together groups of friends to take part in frantic, FPS-style, human-Jenga deathmatches. Said matches are usually full of obscenities, WTF moments, and plenty of human error blamed on the game, internet connections, and other imaginary obstructions2. Oh, and fun, too. There’s a lot of fun here.

Block King 2 - Screen

The premise of the game remains unchanged. You— and up to seven others online— battle for the high ground3 while simultaneously breaking apart the ground beneath you… and others, of course. While you shoot and control your avatar from the standard FPS perspective, the emphasis here is more on platforming. Your success ultimately depends on your ability to dodge and jump with as much grace as you can muster, and maybe get off a well-timed shot or two. If you can grab the lone powerup (think higher jumps, multi-shots, etc.) at the beginning of the match too, well, you’re most of the way there.

New this time around are a couple of different block types, including one that prevents you from jumping (not good when you’re in the heat of battle), and another that automatically sends you flying once you touch it. The game’s biggest change comes with the much-needed inclusion of A.I. bots that will stand in for human players while playing offline, which is extremely helpful given the lack of an online community. Such is the state of XBLIG; you’re more than likely going to  have to organize matches with friends yourself, rather than hoping to find random people playing the game.

Block King 2 - Screen2

Which you should, because Block King 2 is a hell of a lot of fun to play online. Thankfully it’s not required as it was with the first game, but that’s definitely the intended way to go (and sadly, you won’t be able to unlock new characters and skin colors unless you play online). Once again, games like Block King 2 prove you don’t need the fanciest visuals and a dozen different game modes to make a great game. All you need is a rather simple idea, some blocks, randomized chaos, and a few friends.


  1. Sorry, too easy. 
  2. Add some blatant racism and homophobic remarks to the mix, and you’d have your average online gaming experience. 
  3. The ‘high ground’ is tactically important, always. Anakin didn’t have it, and look what happened to him. Sure, you get a cool suit and the voice of James Earl Jones, but you’re giving up Natalie Portman and an actual human body with all your appendages. Seems like a steep penalty for not having the ‘high ground’, amirite? 

REVIEW: APOC TOWN

At outset, APOC TOWN ($1.00) seems to be on the right track. It pairs two of my favorite things; the visual style and general feel of the developer’s previous, Loot or Die1, and those always fun and rascally-ambitious enemy types, zombies. Granted, zombies have overstayed their welcome in everything that’s videogame and pop culture, but they’re hungry for flesh and dead already, making them the perfect antagonists for any project. Yet even with that can’t-miss pairing of ideas, the game isn’t very fun. Or forgiving.

APOC TOWN - Screen

Part of that is due to the apocalyptic setting and its approach to survival. Though APOC TOWN isn’t specifically what some would call a ‘roguelike’, it very much plays and feels like one in that you only have one life to live2, with your progress reset if you should die (or fail to save your game!). Despite its simple appearance, the game is much more complicated than it looks. Rather than going around wantonly bashing in skulls3, you must constantly be scrounging around for materials and ammunition, repairing or finding new weapons (because they will break, often), and crafting what you need in order to live to see another day.

You’ll occasionally get help. Similar to Survivalist (but not nearly as deep), there’s a heavy emphasis on community in APOC TOWN, slowly building up your initial starting point into a working enclave of A.I. survivors.  You’ll recruit others to populate your home base via a handful of preset mission types (rescue, hunt, mercy…), which in turn increases your available pool of resources. You can also find help from actual, breathing humans, as the game supports up to four players online (or via system link, if that’s an option).

And playing with others seems to be the route APOC TOWN wants you to take. Surviving in a zombie-infested apocalypse isn’t easy, naturally, but to make matters even more pressing, the game dials up the difficulty every ‘day’ you and your group survive, throwing even more zombified creatures (birds, dogs, larger zombies) and mobs your way. Given the scarcity of ammo, crafting materials, and medicine, it’s a hell of a lot to account for. If you’re going on alone, the game doesn’t really allow you to survive.

APOC TOWN - Screen2

If you’re seeing this on your screen, you’re lucky.

That isn’t so much of a problem if you have friends to share the load, but with XBLIG’s notoriously-absent online community, you’re never guaranteed to find anyone waiting in the co-op lobby4. Even then, the impetus to expand your base and find better gear is lacking due to the daily repeating objectives and the unrealistic amount of resources required to do so. There’s flashes of some interesting mechanics at work here, to be sure, but it’s not enough.

The resulting game is a mixed bag of genres and ideas, some that work… versus those that really don’t. On the one hand, APOC TOWN is a challenging take on survival horror, with a good amount of depth and too many intricacies to go into in just one article. And on the other, it’s a fickle and unforgiving game that basically refuses to be played solo. The TL;DR: Worthwhile if you have friends on standby willing to help, but alone, it’s far too frustrating to stick with.


  1. With touches of State of Decay and even ZombiU, among the usual ‘zombie game’ conventions. 
  2. Well, technically, that’s not true. Though your starting character can and probably will die, horribly, and losing all of his or her stuff, you will immediately take control of another survivor back at your camp. Assuming you’ve done your job and recruited survivors, that is. No man is an island. 
  3. Not advisable, since doing literally anything depletes your agility. Be very selective when bashing in skulls, my friend. 
  4. And I never did. 

REVIEW: Space Battle

Both from a visual and a purely mechanical standpoint, there’s nothing new to see in the bland-sounding Space Battle1 ($1.00); it’s an amalgam of every twin-stick shooter set in space that you’ve ever played2. And not necessarily the good parts of said shooters either. Developer Chris Antoni’s take on the genre feels more ‘me too’-ish than anything else, and the dour, spartan backgrounds do little to help matters. On the surface, it’s entirely predictable.

Space Battle - Screen

The offline action takes place over sixteen challenging— albeit same-y— solo levels. The initial stages one-up themselves, adding a new enemy type until eventually you’re fighting off hordes of every type. It gets hectic. Unfortunately, it never feels all that thrilling. You get the standard ship upgrades, granting you additional shots or boosting your movement. You get a powerup that freezes enemies in place. And that’s about it. Even the overused, gimmicky, ‘bullet time’-esque slowdown that occasionally triggers when you’re near enemies or dodging laser fire can be more trouble than it’s worth, suddenly disorienting you and limiting your view.

Still, the game’s ‘Online War’ mode offers up a few interesting wrinkles to try and offset the rest of the otherwise familiar package. Rather than make things just a one-on-one duel, Space Battle mixes together parts of RPG-style progress grinding and card deck building, letting you put together an armada of ships (culled from the game’s single-player enemies) and purchase additional card slots and upgrades with currency earned through winning fights. The game allows you to tweak said loudouts beforehand, then sets you loose in a galaxy hub screen and offers up to 31 players online3 to match decks with and battle against.

Space Battle - Screen2

In theory, this should make for exciting combinations and battles, but your options are limited to a handful of choices and upgrades. Essentially, it boils down to picking the upper tier cards (earned randomly from wins) and maxing out your own ship’s stats. Building an impressive deck is slow, too. The cost to buy additional slots is high, making the process more of a grind than it needs to be, and with hardly anyone around playing XBLIGs online (a side effect of a dying scene), you’ll have to make do with the A.I. more often than not.

All in all, though, it just feels like a retread of past twin-stick shooters. And that’s not the vibe you want your game to be saddled with. Despite the interesting idea behind the online play (an idea you likely won’t get to appreciate in its intended form), Space Battle looks and plays too generic everywhere else to hold your interest for long.


  1. Seriously, Chris, I enjoy your games, buddy, but you’ve got to think of a better title than Space Battle for the next one. Literally anything would be better. Eyeballs in Space, maybe, or Chuck’s Fantastic Space Adventure. I mean, I don’t know what somebody named Chuck has to do with it, but you get the idea. Something else
  2. And if you’ve played a decent amount of XBLIGs over the years, you know that ‘twin-stick shooter set in space’ is a rather common idea amongst indie developers. I guess it’s a rite of passage. 
  3. Wishful thinking. I never found a single soul to do battle against.