Is it just me, or is 2021 the year of “loop” in gaming? The phenomenal AAA games Returnaland Deathloop have a gameplay loop as the main design and achieved great success with it. On the indie front, Russian developer Four Quarters also released a loop based game in the form of Loop Hero. Originally launching on PC earlier in the year, Loop Hero has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, expanding the audience and allowing portability. For those unaware, let’s loop you in on what Loop Hero is all about!
A cataclysmic event has occurred and the world has ended. The hero can’t remember much more than an image of the one responsible for the destruction, but sets out to reclaim what has been taken. Placed on a somewhat barren and randomly generated path, a tutorial shows the three main concepts of the game: combat, base building, and playing cards (which alter the path the player loops around). Encountering various enemies such as slimes, skeletons, goblins, and very difficult bosses, the hero has a tough road ahead.
At its core, Loop Hero sounds familiar with gameplay elements that have been used many times over, resulting in something akin to Frankenstein’s monster. However, the reality is that Loop Hero looks and feels very fresh to one playing the game. The passive combat system where you’re not actually controlling attacks, spells, items, etc. immediately gives a different vibe. But then creating the landscape, which dramatically alters the path the player loops around, really makes the game’s uniqueness shine. As more resources are gathered and loops are completed, the player can safely retreat to their home base and create upgrades for future runs.
Throughout the journey, the game is fun to look at. Loop Hero harkens back to the 80’s with its basic graphics and top-down viewpoint. Additionally, the music and sounds help reinforce those vibes with their 8-bit aesthetic.
But the great central concept in Loop Hero also leads to the game’s biggest downfall: it’s too repetitive. Even though you are in control of what is equipped on the hero, what and where cards are played, everything feels the same. Even though you can speed up the place in which the hero moves along the path, fighting a slime for the millionth time really does wear on you. It would have been nice to see a visual shift from one act to the next, but it doesn’t happen.
In the end, Loop Hero is a good game that is held back from greatness by its repetitiveness. It doesn’t provide enough variety to try “one more run” like Slay the Spire or other great rogue-likes, despite its initial appeal. Ultimately, Loop Hero might be worth it for diehards, but not for casuals.
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