Tag Archives: theANTONI

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. 

‘Loot Or Die’ Seems Interesting, and Very Literal

It saddens me to say this, but there is less and less to get excited about on XBLIG these days, insofar as upcoming games that are still coming to the service. Loot Or Die, from ubiquitous developer Chris Antoni, is looking to break that dry cycle.

Coined as a sort of twin-stick / RPG shooter— with drop-in co-op— the game sees you battling aliens and other creatures on a number of different planets. Strategy and depth come into play with the gear and weapons you collect in each stage, ranging from common items to more epic armor and weapons that will increase your stats. The novel ‘ring’ system gives you additional perks to choose from, such as double damage, or allowing you to warp ahead of enemies and / or beyond hazards. True to the game’s name, you’ll have to find better equipment if you hope to survive from planet to planet.

Currently on Day 17 (of an unknown total), the game is shaping up well. Rather than subscribing to the speedier development cycle that his previous releases have seen, the developer is taking his time with this one, polishing the gameplay / mechanics. That added attention to detail should pay off when Loot Or Die is eventually released.


You can follow developer Chris Antoni on Twitter, and keep up with the game’s progress on YouTube.

REVIEW: Really Scary 2

I’m really not sure how I got here, covering another Chris Antoni horror title. It’s hard to keep track of how many there’s been, and I swore them off the last time. I mean, I thought I did. Everything’s cylindrical, maybe. Despite promises and all the best intentions in the world, I end up back where I started. Reviews bleed into other reviews, one jump scare leads into the next, and it feels like all of this is being done in a loop. A loop I can’t seem to escape. Which, coincidentally1, is the premise of Really Scary 2 ($1.00).

Really Scary 2 - Screen

Well, it was the premise of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s excellent mindbender P.T. before this, but you get the idea. This XBLIG-inized version of P.T. is a low-budget homage, warmed up in a dirty microwave and served as if it’s fresh, but it manages to do quite a bit with just a little. The game mines the genre for the typical trappings; dim lighting, deranged individuals (including the protagonist, it seems), a healthy splash of blood here and there. Ditto for its cast of the usual Antoni suspects, including the headless bloody bear, the spider, the wolf man, and Chris’ house2.

The ‘loop’ as presented here is almost an entirely linear route (thanks to the pseudo-FMV and the limited, directional controls), more about building up dread and setting up the occasional jump scare than trial-and-error detective work. Radio broadcasts attempt to paint a picture of your budding insanity, doors open on their own, the room changes ever so slightly when you revisit, etc.

Really Scary 2 - Screen2

To help mix things up, there’s a brief ‘puzzle’ sequence (think Team Shuriken-style, ‘guess the right direction or die’ trick), and a bit based on timing where you avoid approaching enemies. Despite its admittedly-limited arsenal, the game’s pacing is decent, spreading out its scant scares and gameplay for maximum benefit. You’ll still likely conquer the game in 25 minutes or less, with only a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ending to extend that playtime.

Even with my continued savaging of these types of games and their highly-repetitive nature, they tend to do well for the developers that make them. And despite some serious, serious, indie horror / sequel fatigue, Really Scary 2 pulls off some effective jump scares and psychological ticks. It’s not at all original, mind you, but given the community’s apparently voracious appetite for horror on the cheap, that’s not going to be a problem.


  1. Or not so coincidentally, because I needed an opening. 
  2. Seriously, after seeing practically every square inch of the place, at various angles and lighting, and in half a dozen games, I’m starting to feel like I live there myself. I should probably be paying rent. 

REVIEW: Real Evil

The original Resident Evilcheesy dialog and all— probably holds an affectionate place in all our hearts. It’s a landmark game. Besides widely being considered the genesis of the ‘survival horror’ genre, its style and ideas inspiring hundreds of would-be homages and clones since, it’s hard to ignore any game with zombies in it1. Chris Antoni’s Real Evil ($1.00) wants to be a nostalgic, even campier, low-budget version of Resident Evil. Its heart is in the right place, but its complete reliance on that goodwill and nostalgia proves fatal.

Real Evil - Screen

It starts off promising enough. Real Evil‘s tale is a meta-story of sorts, involving a bland-ish robot plucked straight from your average XBLIG title and thrust into the real world without explanation. This sees you battling zombies on pre-rendered backgrounds (…fancy words for ‘pictures of someone’s house’) and searching for clues / items, complete with those inherently-awkward camera angles and a limited amount of ammo. Ah, Resident Evil, I remember you well.

Player movement is equally-awkward, taking its cues from the old-fashioned ‘tank controls’ the RE series was known for. It’s a less than effective scheme in hindsight, more about rotating slowly to face the direction you want. The combat animations for your robot are nifty but slow, meaning you’ll have to aim and fire pretty fast at some points to avoid a quick death (one hit = instant demise) or unseen foe.

As you explore, you’ll run across some basic puzzles, such as piecing together a computer password or maneuvering objects in the environment, and some nods to previous games by the developer. Well, it’s all highly self-referential, actually. You’re in on the joke if you’ve played most of the games referenced, but if you’re coming to Real Evil fresh, both the narrative and the gameplay are likely to feel bizarre or disjointed. One minute you’re fighting zombies in an attic, the next you’re staring into the void and facing off against cubed threats on a level ripped from Block King.

Real Evil - Screen2

Even with the shifting styles, Real Evil‘s biggest issue is its adherence to Resident Evil‘s ancient ideas regarding gameplay. The camera angles are a nuisance more than they are a fond memory, with the jarring transitions from room to room sometimes making it hard to tell if you’re hitting a target. To complicate matters, there is a limited amount of ammunition to find, with no way to attack enemies if you happen to run out. It’s entirely possible to trap yourself at a save point unarmed, making any future progress impossible.

That’s hardly a recipe for fun. Points go to the developer for the XBLIG-unique twist on an old formula, but the mishmash of games and ideas here don’t quite work. Add to this the frustrating viewpoints and an extremely-low tolerance for mistakes, and Real Evil‘s attempt at nostalgic survival horror feels bloated and just as dated as its inspiration.


  1. As XBLIG has come to know all too well. 

REVIEW: Air War

If Air War ($1.00) and its block-styled confines look familiar to you, you’re not alone / crazy1. A lot of its designs and assets owe their origin to Block King, developer Chris Antoni’s previous… um… block-styled confines. Much the same as in that game, Air War is an online shooter for up to eight players2, best enjoyed with friends and an unhealthy amount of trash talk.

Air War - Screen

And by shooter, I mean ship-based dogfighting in the first-person sense, with aerial battles taking place in three different arenas. Despite the visual similarities, each stage does an adequate job of varying the architecture, leading you through narrow gaps and around other obstacles, avoiding fire (and walls!) and trying to get the drop on your opponents.

The perspective can be a little jarring at first, yet the controls and the flying itself is pretty straightforward. The game allows you to tweak your ship and play style mid-flight, adding or subtracting points to laser power, shield strength, and speed. Your starting craft is similar to Star Wars‘ TIE fighters, but you can spend your banked points from kills on bigger, stronger ships that will last the duration of your next life. This applies a welcome layer of strategy and ‘risk vs. reward’ to the fighting, as you can morph from a lumbering fortress to a nimble jet in just a few seconds, adjusting to match the situation.

While Air War is doubtlessly intended as a multiplayer game, there is a single-player option that pits you against AI drones (with both air and ground targets). This functions more like a so-so ‘waiting room’ than a standalone mode. In a novel workaround to XBLIG’s notoriously-vacant online community, the game can change from that single-player mode to multiplayer on the fly, courtesy of a drop-in, drop-out option that will let players ‘invade’ your game.

Air War - Screen2

That multiplayer isn’t perfect, though. There’s some noticeable lag between the on-screen action and what’s actually happening, as well an issue that prevents you from having more than four players in a lobby3. There’s also the aforementioned lack of an online community to consider, as the single-player offering here doesn’t provide much of a reason to play, beyond being a distraction as you wait for friends / randoms to join.

Ultimately, Air War isn’t as fast and fun as Block King, nor does it offer much depth or replayability. At times, it can feel like an add-on or an elaborate test of working parts that might eventually comprise a bigger game. However, if you’re in the mood for some basic-looking air-to-air combat— and have friends willing to play with you— Air War fills a niche.


  1. I mean, you still might be. I have no way of knowing, and I’m not exactly a good judge of sanity anyway. 
  2. Although consider yourself forewarned; in my time with the game, Air War would never allow more than four players in one match. Oh, and much thanks to ‘ImTheMetalLord’, ‘andregurov’, and Chris Antoni for their help in testing the game’s multiplayer. 
  3. See #2 above.