Lair of the Evildoer indie game review

  • Tweet
  • Tweet

Lair of the Evildoer is a top-down shooter created by Going Loud Studios and released over the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. There are some RPG elements in there as well, but I’ll talk about that later. I want to say right away that this review is a bit overdue, mostly because of several personal factors, but also because I had a hard time conveying all of my thoughts without sounding completely negative. I think I’ve managed to do so, but please, try to stick with this one until the end.

I stumbled upon this game on a friend’s Xbox (he had downloaded the demo), so I gave it a try and got hooked. It was a manic little dungeon-crawler with perfect parts difficulty, zombie killing, and treasure hunt (in the form of weapons). But, just like they always do, the demo ended before I could sate my newfound hunger, so when I got my hands on a copy of the full game (graciously provided by Going Loud Studios), I was very excited to continue. Things picked up right where they left off: new and different enemies to contend with, more procedurally generate halls to explore, and a bunch of new weapons to play with.

The actual gameplay takes the form of a fairly standard top-down shooter: one stick for movement, one stick for aiming. You have three weapons (primary, sidearm, and melee) at your disposal to dispatch hoards and hoards of various enemies. Your melee weapon and sidearm never change too much; you have to find your favorite balance between swing speed/reach for melee and clip size/rate of fire for sidearm, but that’s pretty much it. Primary weapons, however, run the gamut from shotgun to assault rifle, to minigun and offer many different strengths and weaknesses. All primary weapons pull ammo from one supply (this is nice, because you will probably want to experiment with different weapon types as you come across them). Ammo is consumed whenever you reload your weapon regardless of how much ammo is left in the clip (sidearms need a reload, but they don’t actually use ammo). This doesn’t bother me, but the fact that it wasn’t ever really explained does. After playing for a bit, though, I figured this out, and it was back to shotgunning monsters.

This is a boss. Have fun!

And there are a lot of monsters. From the humble Undead Corpse to the simple Skeleton, from Killbots to Zombie Accountants (a reference to Going Loud’s other release of the same name) LotE has no shortage of baddies to fight, both in variety and quantity. But if you look past the cute designs and the fun names (one of my favorites was the Zombee, which is exactly what you’d think), all you have are a few different looking enemies with slightly different attack patterns, and when you’re wading through as many enemies as you are, the difference between “walk walk CHARGE” and “CHARGE walk walk” just isn’t enough to keep me on my toes. There’s only a few enemies that can attack from range, and most of these are stationary turrets, so anytime you run up against a suitably threatening group of enemies, the strategy usually devolves into “shoot forwards, walk backwards, melee when they get close.” They try to add some extra variety by occasionally making some “unique” enemies. These effects can give enemies extra health, make them deal extra damage, or even make them immune to projectiles. While this does add some variety, it created even more frustration for me when the biggest, highest health, highest damage non-boss suddenly becomes immune to everything but my melee weapon. This happened to me several times in my playthrough, and each time it took a couple of minutes of whacking it with my melee weapon then backing up to keep out of its huge reach just to take one of them down.

Oh, the monsters are still there, you just can't see them. Yet.

The whole point of killing enemies is to make your way further down the tower of the titular “Evildoer,” Dr. Odious, in an effort to escape your creator-turned-captor. Each floor is procedurally generated, so each playthrough offers a slightly different experience for you to contend with. Every seven floors or so, there’s a change in art style from laboratory, to dungeon, to office, although none of these minor changes have any effect on the gameplay. There is one floor in the dungeon section that stands out. Normally, walls block your “line of sight” to monsters causing them to disappear whenever your character wouldn’t be able to see them (a fun little feature and something I enjoyed). Well, for that one floor, they “cut the lights” so that you can only see enemies when you shine your weapon-mounted flashlight on them. It makes for a fun, interesting diversion, but was one of the only such changes in the whole game.

Get ready to deal with this. For the whole game. Over and over and over again.

This was my main problem with LotE: it just keeps going. You kill some Zombies, get some new weapons, go down some stairs, kill some more Zombies, go down more stairs, possibly find a better weapon, kill some Skeletons, go down some more stairs – you get the picture. There are a few bosses, but they’re generally not challenging or different enough to warrant their inclusion in the game. It’s just so much of the same once you get past the first few floors. And there is no way to increase your movement speed, so it feels like it takes forever to cross any real distance. This is not something you want in the normally fast-paced world of the top-down shooter. That’s really my only issue with the game, though.

I guess that just leaves some of my final notes. The game has a very solid soundtrack credited to Kevin MacLeod and “Nitro City” (Rob Zawistowski and Matt Walsh who unfortunately do not have a website, but can apparently be contacted at nitrocitysound {at} gmail com). There are some areas that generate with multiple turrets in the same room, and you pretty much have to wait for your health to regenerate before taking them on. This takes quite a while and feels like a bad design choice. The weapon comparison button is never explained; you have to look it up yourself. It’s not a huge deal, but they do an excellent job taking you through everything else, so it sticks out to me. There’s a weapon called the “Penhorse Gun.” It’s a unicorn head that fires fairies. Yep. And the end of the game, while fairly funny, is was a bit predictable and disappointing after everything you’re put through.

Your stats screen: dexterity, strength, vitality, and defense.

Oh, and I promised to talk about “RPG elements.” Well, there’s an experience/levels system, but seeing as there are only four stats to sink points into, you will be a little screwed if you don’t distribute those points relatively evenly; if you neglect one stat too much, you will be too underpowered to deal with the increasing quantity and strength of enemies that are thrown your way.

All things considered, Lair of the Evildoer is a solid little indie game that just doesn’t do enough in the time required to complete a playthrough. For just $1 (80 MSP), though, you could do a lot worse with your entertainment budget.

Lair of the Evildoer is currently available on the Xbox Indie Games Marketplace for 80 MSP.

Related posts:

  1. Trenched: an in-depth review
  2. The Madman’s Guide to Happiness - The Worst XBLIG Game Ever.

About minrice

I'm a 22-year-old kid from Wisconsin and the webmaster/"tech ninja" here at Nerd Vice. My earliest gaming memories are of the Atari and games like Pitfall, Sea Wolf, and Breakout. Nowadays, I've expanded my repertoire to include pen and paper RPGs (think D&D), science fiction movies and television (Doctor Who is a favorite), and all things technological.