Loop Hero PC Review – A Fantastically Fresh New Loop

 

 
Overview
 

Release Date: Available Now
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/5


 

Positives


- Plenty of hidden mechanics to find
- Surprisingly philosophical story
- Addictive gameplay loop
- Excellent visual style and soundtrack

Negatives


- Not being able to save mid-loop is frustrating
- Movement is a little slow for my liking


Posted March 12, 2021 by

 
Full Article
 
 

In a world where sequels are the norm and risks seem to be taken less and less, it’s now uncommon to find a truly unique experience in gaming. Part of this is due to the medium maturing as decades have passed and part of it is due to companies being more risk averse as the costs of development have increased. In recent years, it’s the Indie scene that has given us those truly unique experience. Games that control like nothing else you’ve played before or introduce exciting new mechanics you’ve never seen. Nowadays, those games tend to be the ones that get me the most jazzed about playing. Those unique experiences are what reinvigorate me when the weight of monotony and repetition between games with the same exact mechanics or structures get me down. It’s that fresh feeling that I strive to find in gaming, and Loop Hero is the latest example of a game that’s perfectly hit that spot.

Loop Hero borrows and takes aspects of other games and genres and combines them into something totally unique. The game is a cross between an auto-battler or clicker game (think games like Progression Quest or Clicker Heroes), deck builder like Slay the Spire and a roguelike such as Hades. It’s definitely not like much else out there.

Your Hero automatically walks around a randomly generated loop, which contains a few but part enemies. As you encounter these enemies, combat resolves automatically and you’re rewarded with equipment or cards. Equipment is exactly what you expect, with a range of buffs for rarer items that can be stacked to achieve a certain meta. Cards are used to build your loop up. You can place resources tiles, which also provide buffs, more enemy spawning locations to have more opportunities to fight and earn rewards, or passive tiles that give you buffs or directly affect the conditions in battle. This means that, unlike other automatic-progression games, you need to be near-constantly paying attention as you build your loop to suit your strategy and ensure you have the best equipment equipped.

This card mechanic is where Loop Hero and its meta-game truly shines. What isn’t necessarily explained by the game, and is left for you to discover as you play, is that certain combinations of cards have hidden effects you need to discover. This includes Vampire Mansions turning villages into a monster filled battlefield for 3 loops before they transform into a Count’s Lands (effectively a supercharged Village that restores massive health to you) and when the effects of two Battlefields cross, they cause strong Blood Clot enemies to spawn. There are so many combinations to discover that I was still finding new things after 40 hours in the game. It resulted in me changing my preferred strategies and metas, keeping the game fresh via a sense of discovery.

Outside of your loops themselves, you’ll find yourself in an initially tiny village. You see, at the beginning of the game, a Lich appears in the sky and wipes out the world. Somehow, your character manages to survive and awakens on a small loop with no recollection of the world itself. As you progress in the game, you’re effectively remembering parts of the world, be that through interacting with new enemies on the loop or via interactions at the village. It’s an interesting way to present the story and gets much more philosophical than I expected, delving into disharmony between races and why they might not want the world you’re remembering.

The Village itself acts as your hub area. You awaken there after your first tutorial loop, with a survivor saying you magically appeared there. As you progress in loops and  collect resources, you’ll gradually build new buildings and upgrade existing ones. Each has a different effect on the Village and loops. Some will give you new classes to play as, some will give you the ability to unlock permanent buffs, while even more will unlock news cards for your deck. There’s plenty of stuff to build and craft, although it can definitely turn into a bit of a grind for resources at points.

As you unlock more and more cards, the deck building aspect of Loop Hero becomes more apparent. At the beginning of each run, you have the opportunity to alter the deck of cards you bring with you. The maximum number increases over time, but you’ll generally need between 7-12 cards selected to begin a run. What you select is entirely up to you and will colour the strategy you use. You can go heavy on enemies, keeping a constant loop or equipment and card drops. You can focus more on resources, maybe looking to do a resource finding loop instead of a boss run. The power is in your hands, in what is a very light touch deck building mechanic that still affects the game itself.

Where Loop Hero begins to fall over a little is in some of its quality of life aspects. A loop can take a good bit of time, especially if you’re doing a boss run, and there is no ability to save mid-loop and come back later. While you can always escape mid-loop with a penalty of 40% of the resources you’ve collected, it’s not ideal to have no way to simply save, shut the game and come back later mid-loop. Additionally, part of the reason loops take so long is because of the slow movement speed. While there is the ability to unlock movement speed buffs during a loop, these mean leaving behind more beneficial buffs. I played the game almost exclusively at the 2x speed option and even then I felt the game was a bit too slow in practice. I couldn’t imagine playing the game at the default speed setting.

Conversely, there are some great quality of life and accessibility settings as well. By default the game uses a CRT filter and pixelated font. The filter can be turned off at any point and the font can instead be swapped out for high resolution or dyslexia fonts. There are also a range of options around when the game pauses. You can set the game to automatically pause after every instance of combat and at the end of a loop, allowing you the time to reflect on what you’ve received, instead of needing to remember to hit pause.

Wrapping all of this together is a fantastically grungy pixelated style that I love. Everything is somewhat low in detail, but still conveys itself appropriately. This is especially true as you begin to truly fill up a map, with little (or no) empty space left over. Similarly, the soundtrack is filled with the sort of harsh and heavy tones you’d expect from a game decades old. I absolutely loved the heaviness of the soundtrack, although I’m the first to admit that it began to get a bit repetitive towards the end of my time with the game.

I love finding new and unique experiences in gaming and that perfectly describes Loop Hero. There is nothing else quite like it and beyond a couple of small quality of life issues, Loop Hero is an amazing experience and one you should absolutely get on board with.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.