What is up with ducks and their newfound desire to conquer the galaxy? Didn’t we feed them enough breadcrumbs or what? Whatever the reason may be, they aren’t happy and return as the main enemies in Relic Hunters Legend, the follow-up to the acclaimed indie game Relic Hunters Zero.
We were given the opportunity to play an early alpha build of Relic Hunters Legend and despite having most features and levels under development, it was enough to see where the game is going, which is Fast and Fun Shooter Land. No, that isn’t a real place, I just made that up to get the point across.
Donald Duck Goes Rogue
Relic Hunters Legend is a four-player online co-op shooter created by a Brazilian studio called Rogue Snail. It represents an improvement to the first game in every level, starting with the graphics. Gone is the somewhat simplistic pixel art, replaced by a colorful cartoon style that conveys heaps of personality and emotion – mostly fierce determination – in such small characters.
There is no campaign right now, but a story mode with four acts is planned, with the first act coming during the beta. This act will offer four to five hours of time-traveling adventures with a mysterious character name Seven. In fact, the developers mention the fact that the game should take you 500 hours to complete everything. By that they really mean everything including unlocking and leveling characters, completing every dungeon and mission, and getting the best builds available.
To fully enjoy that, the shooting and looting should be as polished as they can be, right? You can rest assured that even at the current state, Relic Hunters Legend is a lot of fun. The small selection of characters, a couple of them without their unique skills, doesn’t get in the way of the fast and frantic gameplay one could expect from such a game. It’s like Killsquad on cute, fluffy steroids, with a lot of heavy-armored turtles and ducks wearing shades.
The current build comes with four hunters: Ace, Jimmy, Pinkyy and Raff. For the sake of this alpha test, and apparently because I have discovered a weird liking for green computerized hair, I chose Pinkyy, the leader of the Relic Hunters. She is an extremely agile fighter and her shield is a godsend when it comes to protecting the team from the ceaseless bursts of enemy projectiles. She also has a dash and a jump ability that come in handy when her enemies are united in a small area.
As if it wasn’t enough for poor old Ace to be a donkey, he is currently missing some skills, but at least he can resort to his leap to hurt his enemies a bit. Raff, on the other hand, is missing… er, everything, so she isn’t the most appropriate choice when it comes to trying different tactics in the arena. Jimmy is described as the greatest shot in the galaxy and I believe it, with his grenade throwing skill surely playing a big part in his reputation. The roster is going to improve with the addition of Seven, Biu, Panzer and Red, most of them being familiar faces from Relic Hunters Zero.
Hunters level up in two ways: they gain experience levels by the regular means of progressing and shooting everything in sight, but they also have a gear level. This is inherently tied to your Hunter level, which means that you can only equip better gear if your current experience level allows you to do so. Then you have the option to enhance your gear via crafting materials that you find in your way or by recycling parts that you don’t need anymore. This alpha is limited to level 20 but the final game comes with a level cap of 100.
There is so much under development for Relic Hunters Legend that I believe it will feel very different from the current build, when it enters beta by late 2019 or early 2020. A skill tree is in the works, which means that you’ll be able to improve abilities and unlock new skills, paving the way for more combat options. There is a rebel rank as well to track your account level based on your achievement completion rate.
A customization system is being developed for you to equip cosmetic items, change the colors of individual pieces to your liking, add a special effect here and there, and choose your favorite quips and emotes. This is where monetization will come barging in, although Rogue Snail promises to be completely fair and transparent in their regard. Judging by the frank way in that they advise caution to anyone who wants to purchase Relic Hunters Legend in its current state, they seem to be very serious about it.
Ducks of War
There isn’t much in the way of content, but there are many hours of gameplay at your disposal if you like this kind of loot-driven shooter. This is a fun game with a friend, but it goes extreme when you have a full party of four players hunting ducks. There are a few intricacies that you must learn and let sink in, such as the lack of a jump button, which is something weird for a game that places such an emphasis on verticality.
You’ll be able to deal with slopes and gaps thanks to context-based leaps, something that feels natural and smooth after a few minutes. The AI relentlessly attacks and chases you, comfortably dealing with every obstacle that the tricky terrain throws its way. In fact, they can become a little bit unnerving with their constant climbing and descending, inadvertently avoiding our gunfire by sheer luck.
While you can freely aim your weapon, verticality once again gets in the way of your task. Relic Hunters Legend has a weird way of dealing with ramps and slopes, one that will require some getting used to. Your shots may end up hitting an enemy standing on top of a ramp, or simply fail to reach him. Different approaches to distance and location may result in a better outcome, but it’s not always evident how things are going to turn out. Switching between no assist and auto-aim modes doesn’t seem to significantly alter how the shooting works.
Relic Hunters Legend only has one location to explore for now, but you can rest assured that others are coming. The Galyno Desert is the first region, but at least six regions of similar size are planned. This area is divided into three eras, which equate to normal, hard and epic difficulty levels. Only normal and hard modes are available and not for every mission, with many “under construction” signs showing that this is very much a game in early alpha state. Even the Secret Market, which will act as the game’s social hub isn’t accessible, so there are a lot of expected dead ends in Relic Hunters Legend’s current build.
The same goes for game modes, with only a couple available. Skirmish is your standard mode where you drop from your ship and start shooting Ducans left and right, only to end up facing a boss in a small arena. Scavenge is the other game mode where it’s all about capturing random points in the map for a short time, resisting the relentless waves of enemies that try to push you out of the circle. Other game modes are planned, including Payload (escorting a slow-moving train), Defense (protecting a gate) or Distraction (survive for eight minutes while causing the most trouble), among others. There are four-player dungeons with unique mechanics, but it was under construction as well.
However, that is enough talking about technical details; onward to fun! Relic Hunters Legend is a lighthearted, gripping, no strings attached experience where your only goal is to shoot and loot. Beneath its deceivingly simple core gameplay mechanics beats a strong and charismatic heart, one that initially compels you with its looks and soon grabs you by sheer addictiveness. It’s a game where you are unwillingly forced to inspect every little detail, from the grimaces that the heroes make with every skill or move to the way that the empty bullet shells fall to the ground when you reload your weapon. You can’t help but smile at these almost invisible touches.
Relic Hunters Legend still needs a lot of work and in its current state it isn’t anywhere near a proper beta build; I wasn’t even able to create a match with a friend. Luckily, I stumbled across a few random players here and there, allowing me to appreciate the game for what it intends to be. It’s free-to-play, so it’s not like you’ll have to ask for a refund if you weren’t entertained when it launches.
Good games don’t need hundreds of hours of content for you to realize that they are worthy of your time. This is one such example and you can bet that it will be a huge success among the fans of the first game, as well as sheer enthusiasts of top-down co-op shooters. Unless a duck or two find a way to time travel and sabotage the grand scheme of things, Relic Hunters Legend is on the right track.