Greetings traveler.

If you liked any of my reviews, consider following my curator page . There is always something new in the works :)
Currently Offline
Welcome to Once upon a review
Salutations. I am of an opinion that while steam reviews are often one-liner comments, there is a room for fully-fledged writing on this platform as well. This is precisely what I aim to deliver, an in-depth look on each of the reviewed games. Regardless of whether you wish to gather additional info before buying a title or enjoy reading the opinions of others on your favourite game, you can hopefully find something of interest here.

When it comes to my reason for writing - I do love games. There is something endlessly curious and engaging about them that ticks all the right boxes in my brain. A certain inherent appreciation, that occasionally makes me play through a game equivalent of a dumpster fire in search of an unpolished gem. And mostly have fun while I am at it. It may also imply a lack of taste, you decide. The direction this rant is heading towards - I like to consider my reviews an absurdly lengthy love letter to gaming and my personal experiences with it. On top of that, in recent years, writing turned out to be the only consistent opportunity to practice a foreign vocabulary.

As for my gaming preferences, over the years I find myself gradually drifting further and further away from AAA games, steering instead towards indie and old titles. It's funny how the best place to look for something truly unorthodox is roughly 20 years in the past. That said, no game or genre is out of the question and I do intend on trying out every single game in my library, one day. Until then, see you around, once upon a review.

The review showcase includes my latest text.

I live again :)
After considerable theething pains of what to do with 100th review I finally settled on what I should've done a while ago - simply carry on. Not only the break is over, I am planning to maintain a bi-monthly release schedule until the end of the year.

Painkiller: Black Edition
Space Hulk: Tactics
Them and Us
Rarest Achievement Showcase
Review Showcase
12.6 Hours played
Ahoj z České!
Have you ever wondered what would it be like if DUSK was set in a soviet republic? If the answer is “no”, this is perfectly understandable. To all 3 of you for whom the answer is “yes”, this is an oddly specific request but you are bound to love what comes next! HROT may not belong to New Blood brand of modern boomer-shooters, however it sure as hell looks, feels and plays like it could. This Quake-inspired piece of action is work of a single Prague-based developer by the nickname Spytihněv.

Set in a post-apocalyptic depiction of Czechoslovakia, this title blends a smooth, old-school gunplay, references to communism, copious amounts of brown and a peculiar sense of humour to deliver a premiere retro experience.

Blast from the past
No matter whether it is the originals or the new wave – if old-school shooters ring true at all, you will soon recognise that HROT comes from a place of deep understanding of what makes such games tick. All of the components you would come to expect from a title like this are in place: a level-based structure divided into episodes, memorable setpieces, a key-based pacing and a secret behind a cracked wall in need of explosives. Thus, not only the game manages to check all of the retro boxes, (even nods to the classics are there) it does all of these things really well.
Possibly the best example to highlight that the smooth flow of the game is hardly a coincidence, is how well it handles enemies’ visibility. One of the more distinct facets of HROT is that out of 100 colours used in the game about 90 of them are various shades of brown. With this in mind, it is quite amazing that the opposition never truly blends with the surroundings despite chaos often ensuing on the screen. Through careful application of contrasting pieces of equipment or something as mundane as red eyes of a rat, threats remain easy to follow across well over 40 bestiary entries.

Now, it needs to be stated that while HROT definitely dedicates due attention to roots of its chosen genre, it would be a disservice to imply that the game merely follows the footsteps of its predecessors. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this title has an identity of its own – it is a mix of extreme soviet brutalism, Czech references and dank memes. I would venture the end result may impair your ability to drive.

Beef Strogonov
Simply put, the setting of HROT is utterly bizarre and what I can imagine to be one of the game’s most polarizing aspects. On one hand, the player traverses an oppressively bleak world of gas masks, ticking away to the rhythm Geiger’s counter. On the other, an animate bulldozer springs to life to fill the role of a minor Boss and one of the levels has a dance party worked into progression route. If you prefer your dystopia morose with a gravel aftertaste, I can imagine “Dank stuff” tab in the main menu is going to be a letdown.
For better or worse, this title doesn’t take itself particularly seriously and to be fair, I find the absurdity to be working in the game’s favour. Taking into account how deeply entrenched in soviet-era Czechoslovakia HROT is, a sardonic spin on the setting goes a long way. Especially in a game which is ultimately about gunning down lots of dudes with extreme prejudice.

Prague Ratter
Speaking of the devil, HROT’s rouges gallery fits well with the game’s peculiar sense of humour. Most prevalent enemy types consist of faceless invading army, suited with full environmental suits – they seem to help little though, as soldiers are often seen throwing up through the filters of their masks. Once bunkers and cityscape give way to castle-themed levels, meat for the grinder follows suit to include hooded maniacs, leaping at the player with axe in hand. Harsh and gritty. However, it wouldn’t be HROT if things were to remain this subdued – an enemy called “Konfident” is a large flying head of Lenin, which shoots vision-impairing bullets. There are also mutated chickens, Nazi Newts and hostile inanimate objects, which prompt concern for protagonist’s mental state.

No less interesting level filling is a myriad of curious little details scattered across the game. Random interactable items provide a fun change of pace from action-packed gameplay, rewarding the player for sparing a while to take in their surroundings. Some of them are simple distractions, such as a grinding washing machine or a fully interactive keyboard; while others can be a fully-fledged minigame or have an achievement tied to them. One may be tempted to write-off dedicating attention to seemingly pointless items, nevertheless to me this is a chef’s kiss, making HROT’s world vivid despite its bleak colour palette.

Worth a separate mention is the level design itself. For the most part, the game maintains a steady flow, with progression route looping nicely as new areas become available. Crossing certain sections of the level multiple times is often used to provide smart visual clues regarding the way forward. In spite of all that, I did get stuck in HROT on several occasions, as the game at times considers finding the correct path as a sort of environmental puzzle. In few instances, I scolded myself for missing a passage that seemed obvious when I finally found it, in others, extra hoops left an aftertaste of mild frustration.
Been there, done that
Having reached the nitpicking part, if HROT has a single genuine caveat, it is the uninspired arsenal. Overwhelming majority of guns available you have seen in every shooter, especially a retro one. The few exotic pieces being a lightning gun pulled straight from Quake and my personal favourite - Veltlínske zelené, a bottle of healing wine which doubles as a Molotov. Using tried and tested guns isn’t terrible in itself, they also have distinct quirks making certain weapons more fitting to a given combat scenario. Unfortunately, the player often will be shooting whatever currently has ammo left as HROT seems to be optimized towards giving the player “just enough” ammo to get by, somewhat undermining the nuance of gun performance. With all that in mind, I need to stress this is nitpicking rather than a true issue with the game.

Ultimately, HROT’s Steam rating of “Overwhelmingly Positive” seems fully deserved. While I am tempted to call this game niche, with boomer-shooter genre becoming increasingly more popular over the years, I believe it reaches out to a sensibly wide audience. I especially recommend the game to inhabitants of former Warsaw Pact countries, as all the soviet references will hit harder, particularly the mature players who experienced the reality of communism on their own skin. In both content and gameplay, HROT is a proper blast from the past, delivering a true morsel for all fans of retro FPS.
Completionist Showcase
Recent Activity
3 hrs on record
last played on May 26
1,004 hrs on record
last played on May 26
21 hrs on record
last played on May 25
Tank Apr 4, 2020 @ 7:12am 
Alvarion - half-time game reviewer, full time savage.
KRisU Apr 2, 2020 @ 11:40am 
Xaxa kompat +pen xopowyi komnah b ugry