In the mood for some mobile-friendly monster murdering, dungeon marauding, and treasure looting on a bit of a restricted budget? Welcome to your new best friend, Heroes of Loot – a kind of Poundland answer to Diablo-style dungeon crawls. This is a rather lovely, simple, and fun mix of the role-playing and roguelike genres, blended with some inventive twin stick shooting for good measure – and it's ready to download now on Sony's nifty handheld.
First up, you pick your hero. Options include a traditional ranged combat specialist Elf, a magic wielding Wizard, a tough but slow Warrior, or an equally badass Valkyrie – although it's worth noting that most of them have similar basic attacks. Once you've made your choice, it's straight into the monster battling action. Hardened dungeon plunderers will be immediately at home hacking through hordes of various enemies, pausing only to grab as much loot as possible en route to the exit.
Heroes of Loot's control system is simple and very accessible: just use the left stick to move, and the right or any face button to shoot. Your hero has just one main attack, which is supplemented with an ultra attack which eats up your mana points. When in a dungeon, however, you can also activate short-term special attacks by running over power up runes – these see your regular attack transformed into fearsome death bringing assaults like a wave of fire or lightning strikes from above, and they last until your mana is exhausted.
The dungeons themselves get harder as you beat each level, bringing new monster types and challenges. It's a satisfying system that will tempt you back to try and take on the next level, or give it 'one more go' as death sees your progress halted permanently – although overall progress is not lost, nor is the level of difficulty that you're at. It kicks off nice and easy, but soon enough, you'll find yourself getting your arse handed to you by chunkier or quicker bad guys who can only be dealt with through certain strategies.
There are a good number of dungeons to explore and beat – each offers a bite-sized challenge so that you can jump in and rip through a couple in just a few minutes. With that in mind, Heroes of Loot is a great diversion that you can dip into as and when you have the opportunity. What's more, each dungeon has a main exit, the key to which you need find, and there are secret bonus levels as well as shops, which mix up the action and allow you to access different gear.
Graphically, Heroes of Loot rocks a retro 8-bit art style, and it works well. The enemies each have their own look, movement patterns, and attack styles, which creates surprisingly varied challenges depending on whether you're facing powerful ranged adversaries or mobs that'll simply rush you. Also, it's easy to miss in the heat of the action, but as you battle, you leave a stream of single pixel arcane power trails, and when you dispatch a monster it dies with a satisfying burst of red blobs – both are nice little details.
Heroes of Loot looks at first glance like a seriously no-frills budget package, but if you venture into this portable dungeon crawler, you'll find much to enjoy. The slick real-time combat is as satisfying and addictive as it is cheap to access. As such, this is a game for everyone who has ever enjoyed that sweet, sweet feeling of swiping loot from under the corpses of hundreds of enemies – and thanks to this Vita edition, you can do it in style on the bus.