Loot Hound Review

Score 45Loot Hound is everything that’s wrong with mobile gaming in a PC package, and without the benefit of buying your way past all the grinding.  The gameplay lacks motivation or consequence, and the developers failed to implement any challenge.  While there’s some strategy on what stats to spend your points on, it’s mostly a mindless slog through redundancy.  The levels lack anything memorable, and the dogs have zero personality.  If you can honestly get enjoyment out of digging up items like “Message In A Bottle In A Ship In A Bottle” over and over again- more power to you.  For me, I’d much rather put this basic bitch down.  

WHAT WE LIKED
º The three dogs have unique skills, with each map utilizing them.
º Some of the items you find are chuckle-worthy.
º The game functions correctly.
WHAT WE DISLIKED
º There’s barely any challenge, personality or thought infused into the game.
º Nothing has been done to break up the monotony of hunting for places to dig.
º The rewards aren’t worth your time, and there’s no punishment for getting caught.
This is your life- an apartment with three dogs, no bed and a room full of dug-up trash. Enjoy.

I had become numb, and it wasn’t until I was lifting a freshly pinched loaf while walking my actual dog that I realized I was somehow more engaged at that moment than with my whole time playing Loot Hound.  As I quickly wrapped up the bag, feeling the disgusting warmth through the thin plastic baggie, I realized I hadn’t really experienced any sensations in the past day.  I had hunkered down, and focused all of my attention on my review of Rhizome’s form of escapism, where you endlessly take dogs out on scavenger hunts- and like a real scavenger hunt, I had forgotten what it was to actually ‘have fun.’  I realized, as I walked down the street awkwardly carrying the bag, that there was more challenge and thought involved in actually walking my dog then there was in the entirety of this ‘dog walking simulator.’

I honestly don’t know where to start.  This might be the most vanilla, middle of the road and bland experience I’ve played in a while.  It’s not a bad game- it functions the way it should.  It’s just so mindlessly pointless; I question what the developers constitute as fun.  The whole time I was sitting there, I felt chunks of my brains dripping from my ears- that is, until I went numb.  The game never changes, never throws you any curves- it is what it is.  What it is, and I hate to call any game this, is a time waster.
The game is presented from a top-down perspective and starts with you in a small apartment.  Someone knocks on your door and delivers a puppy in a box to you.  That’s it.  That’s the setup to the story.  After that, it’s just you taking your dog down to the park to collect any trash it might dig up.  While the idea of collecting garbage with ‘puntacular’ names like a “Moustache Cash Stache” is a chuckle-worthy novelty, you’ll quickly get tired of it when you realize it’s the only redeeming thing about the game.  After a while, you’ll get another smaller dog, and then a big dog.  You’ll unlock more parks as you go, where you can dig up more stuff.  I think that’s the entirety of the storyline.
I literally don’t have anything to say about this image- which is why this review was so hard.

I wish I were joking, but that’s it.  The dogs don’t even have much of a personality to grab onto either.  I’ve played with Windows 95 desktop pets with more character than these dogs have.  These two-dimensional dogs lack any traits or redeeming quality for my mind to latch onto.  Sure, every once and awhile, when you think the dog gets excited because they’ve found something to dig up, they’ll pee.  If that made you chuckle, please- don’t let me stop you from buying this game now.

If you’re still here, let me go onto gameplay.  It’s boring.  You move around with the WASD controls, or with the left stick, and either pull your leash in or give it a little slack with two separate buttons.  Sometimes, especially when dealing with the bigger dogs, they’ll pull the leash right out of your hands, and you’ll have to catch them.  You have a stamina meter for your dog, and when it runs out, you go home.  That’s it.  Probably the most dynamic thing about the game is the three abilities the dogs have.  The small one can slip into tiny cracks to reach special areas, the big one can scare off animals that for some reason sit on top of buried treasures, and your first dog can dig through rock.  While this may sound like it adds variety, it doesn’t actually feel like it.  You’ll find a strategically squared off area, with one small gap, and you’ll just sigh, realizing you’ll have to backtrack the map once again with the small dog.  After that, you’ll find a goose nesting on a dig spot.  Sigh.  Even worst, your chosen dog might not be strong enough to dig it up, meaning you’ll have to come back again in the future, and maybe then you might be able to dig it up.
This is the stuff legends are made of.  I’m happy with how I spent the past two hours.

This means that the game leans heavily on grinding.  When you do dig up an item, you’ll get points- and with those points, you can spend them on upgrading your dogs’ abilities.  You can make them better diggers, help them with item detection, improve their concentration, help their stamina or increase their odds of finding better items.  Sadly, it all seems so calculated to strain the most time out of your life.  You take the medium dog out to the new park, grab what you can with them, and then take out the big dog.  Then the small dog.  Because each park is always just ahead of your dogs’ strengths, you’ll find holes you can’t get find or dig up yet- meaning it’s time to backtrack or push onwards- but you’ll always come back.  Two more points to digging- will it be enough?  Who knows.  This might’ve been acceptable, but the only reward you get is successfully digging up items like a ‘UK Ukulele.’

Sure, backtracking is sometimes acceptable in video games- but it’s usually in ones that offer you a challenge or some variety.  While the levels offer some thoughtful design, their blocky layouts don’t feel very thoughtful and lack the creativity needed to be called an obstacle.  The biggest problem you’ll face in the stages are the park rangers, who will attempt to stop you or your dog if they start digging a hole.  They’ll chase after you, and if they catch you, they take away all of your items, remove some of your dog’s points, and you risk being banned from the park.  Nah- I’m just kidding.  You just start back at the beginning, and you lose nothing you’ve picked up.  The biggest hurdle in the game and the developers just set it back up, pat you on the head and reset the clock.  You can outrun them, but sometimes it’s just faster to let them catch you if you’re just returning to the stage for that one item you left behind.
Nope.  Not getting any easier.  Um- I like the cloud effects in the game…  And the little poops…

Technically, the game works.  Audio is on par with the entry-level graphics.  Only a few graphical glitches show up, mostly with the leash, and I think I had maybe one crash.  Everything functions the way it should- but by the end of the experience, I was begging for anything to happen to add some flavor to this monotonous experience.  It behaves in a way that Farmville does.  Sure, it works- but it’s not like it’s pressing the limits, or taking risks.  You’re moving a guy who’s slightly animated shoulders telegraph his walk cycle while his dog just floats around like a torpedo.  It feels like a free to play game that forgot to put the purchases in it.

I write these reviews for you, the reader.  I don’t like playing a game and writing a bad review, and I know developers don’t like reading them.  I don’t want to ride the game for being simple and cute because maybe that’s what they wanted.  Something you can hand over to your kids, that they can play and have some unthoughtful fun.  But, in all honesty, there are better and more worthwhile games for your family.  It’s too simple, and it feels insulting to think that anyone would get real, heartfelt enjoyment out of this lackluster game.  Since I can’t even recommend it for kids, I would only ever recommend this game to dog lovers with at least a minor head injury.
·      Publisher – Rhizome Games
·      Developer – Rhizome Games
·      Genre – Indie, Simulation, Strategy
·      Release Date – November 17th, 2015
·      Version Reviewed – PC
·      PEGI Rating – N/A
·      Multiplayer – No
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