oprainfall@GDC IMPRESSIONS: Relic Hunters Legend

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

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Editor’s Note: Due to the postponement of GDC, oprainfall has taken it upon themselves to help provide coverage to developers who were going to showcase their games there. Relic Hunters Legend is one of those games.

Once upon a time, Brazilian developer Rogue Snail set out to make a game with shooting, evil space ducks, and the shooting of said ducks. That was Relic Hunters Zero. Now though, they’ve taken that concept and expanded upon it with RPG elements, a story and a robust multiplayer component. The result is Relic Hunters Legend, a cooperative top-down shooter with RPG-style progression, loot drops, and an art style that wouldn’t look out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon. Currently in Steam’s Early Access, it’s slated to be free to play once it launches. That said, where does the game currently stand?

Relic Hunters Legend | Shooting Ducks

At the moment, Relic Hunters Legend is in what’s referred to as the “Founders Alpha” build. Due to its current state, there are a number of features that the final build will have, but which I couldn’t assess at the time. These include the following: a journal to keep track of quests, various social functions (friends list, clans, etc.), a hub to interact with other players, cosmetics and hunter customization, and a Rebel Rank which raises hunter level caps and gives points to level up skills. What’s here for now is a half-dozen or so missions, not counting the two story-heavy intro missions, on a couple different difficulty levels. It’s just enough to give an idea of how the progression system works and tease the closed off portions of the overworld map.

The story for this build of Relic Hunters Legend gets across the basics. You play as Seven, a person who’s lost their memory to the point they don’t remember their real name. Seven has a weird diamond machine thing the size of a car with “07” on the side of it, thus the name. They somehow traveled through time and messed up the timeline, but they also came across and join a group called the Relic Hunters. This rebel group tracks down relics of the old world to restore the true version of the past and overthrow an empire led by Duke Ducan and his mostly duck army. There are two levels that cover this (not counting the short prologue) and considering where the story stops, I can only assume more of the gaps in the plot get filled in as things progress.

Relic Hunters Legend | Defending the Point

Let’s start by getting one thing out of the way; I enjoy the base gameplay of Relic Hunters Legend. It starts off slow, but once I got to the online stages I was wading through and shooting up wave after wave of enemies. Each level has environment pieces of varying heights which both the player can enemies can jump up or down while attacking, allowing for some light platforming without interrupting the flow of combat. Sometimes the pauses between waves are a bit too long, particularly during “defend the point” stages, but otherwise the pace only gets thrown off by one thing: dying. Most levels are long maps where enemies appear at set points. Dying sends the player back almost to the beginning of the stage. It usually only takes 10-15 seconds to get back, but it’s enough of an annoyance to get under my skin, even with being able to sprint and do a quick dash.

That pales in comparison to my biggest issue with Relic Hunters Legend. It’s designed for online play, but I don’t know how balanced it is for people playing solo. I couldn’t find anyone to play with, so I went through every available stage alone. For levels that have a boss at the end—the one boss that appears in all the skirmish levels—the same thing happened almost every time: I ran out of ammo. You can equip two guns and swap between them, but even with that and recharging offensive abilities I wound up in a stalemate with a boss that could regenerate a shield faster than I could destroy it and put a dent in the health bar. I hope in the future there’s some effort to balance things according to how many hunters are on the map.

Relic Hunters Legend | No enemies Near the Point

Hunters in Relic Hunters Legend boost their stats by collecting gear drops from enemies, then upgrading them using crafting materials either found or recycled from old gear. I’m a big fan of this system, since it puts old equipment to use in a system where better weapons aren’t simply bought. Better gear not only boosts stats, but the gear level of a hunter. This acts like the “You must be this tall to ride” measurement of what levels a hunter can or can’t visit. Once again, I’m a fan of this as it helps prevent low-level hunters from being overwhelmed and/or sandbagging other hunters’ performance.

The sights of Relic Hunters Legend work well, but the sounds are a bit of a mixed bag. The soundtrack makes heavy use of chiptune, which bounces between goofy and pseudo-serious songs. I don’t mean that as an insult; it fits the visual aesthetic well enough. Sound effects are all well done, particularly when one of the Ducans dies and emits a Not Donald Duck cry of anguish. My one criticism is with the implementation of voices in the story missions. Everyone has short multi-purpose voice clips that play over the on-screen dialogue. However, they tend to play way too often and distract from what the character is actually saying. Hopefully these get scaled back a bit in future builds.

Relic Hunters Legend | Gear Menu

Overall, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from Relic Hunters Legend. The gameplay, the most important part, just needs a little fine tuning to improve an already fun experience. Well, that and it needs a little collision testing as I fell through a few walls, specifically diagonal ones hidden by higher environment pieces. I can’t speak for the multiplayer aspect, but the single player experience kept me interested in seeing what comes next. Or maybe should I say when comes next, what with the time travel?

About Scott Ramage

Scott Ramage wears many hats. From podcasts to football games to let's plays to pro wrestling matches, he has dabbled in several fields while pursuing a Japanese degree to go with his English degree. One of the few constants for him is that he's been a fan of video games since first playing Pole Position on the Atari 2600.