Lair of the Evildoer was developed by Going Loud Studios and retails for 80 MSP. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.

Lair of the Evil Doer is a twin stick shooter with some roguelike elements as well. You are the rejected creation of an evil doctor who has decided to fight for his life rather than be terminated. To survive you must explore floor after procedurally generated floor. Along the way you collect new and improved weapons and level yourself up as well. The RPG elements are fairly solid which adds a lot to the game. It also has a lot of oddball humor scattered throughout the game.

Here’s what we liked:

Looting – Lair offers a fair amount of variety in the loot you can collect. There are three types of weapons: melee, sidearm, and big gun. Each type has its place and major upgrades can be found for them, such as upgrading a simple shotgun to a Tommy-Gun or a baseball bat to an axe. The decision of which weapon to keep and which to drop will not always be an easy one. Rate of fire, accuracy, reload speed, clip size, and damage must all be taken into account. The game tells you which item is mathematically better, but personal preference will always come into play.

RPG elements – You will level up fairly often in Lair. With each level your health goes up a little and you are given five skill points to distribute to the four attributes that you have. We tended to distribute them fairly evenly but there is no limitation on what kind of build you can make. Your individual stats and all the weapon stats give you plenty to think about if you so desire. At the same time, it is easy to gloss over these things if you just want to shoot stuff.

Solid gunplay – Speaking of shooting stuff, that’s the best part of Lair. Controls are very tight and the different weapons feel powerful. You have the option to run into a room guns blazing or to funnel enemies through a narrow corridor while you take them out. There are also strategically placed exploding barrels (what other kind of barrels are there?) all overto use to your advantage.

Humor – Most of the game is spent shooting, but there is a fair amount of humor throughout the game. This is usually dispensed through the occasional communication terminal you find. The beginning of the game is rather funny too, but we won’t ruin it for you here. The laughs don’t really add much to the game but it is a nice touch nonetheless. They’re certainly not intrusive.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

Challenge inconsistency – The first half of the game seemed incredibly easy. Then without warning it got hard–really hard. Needless to say it is mandatory to search the entire level to get all the experience and upgrades possible. But while doing this you’ll find the difficulty unreasonably spike. At first we were scared that the game was going to be a complete cakewalk, only to have it completely turned things around. Finishing it is certainly doable, but we would’ve preferred to have a more graded approach to difficulty.

Occasional poor level design – The levels are all procedurally generated. You could play through the game twenty times and not see the same level twice. That’s great, but at the same time not all the level designs make a lot of sense. Sometimes (not often) the exit to a floor will be found just one or two rooms away from where you start on a floor. The temptation is to just move onto the next level but that could prove deadly. You still really need to level up your character if you want to survive.

Lair of the Evildoer is a lot of fun and a great value at only 80 MSP. The complaints against it are very minor. It excels in all the areas that it aspires to. Its shooting is well done and the RPG elements add a good deal of depth to the gameplay. All in all this is a solid product that easily stands head and shoulders above most of the XBLIG crowd.

Score: Buy It