Traditionally, combat is one of the best things in an RPG. Tactical decisions, crunchy numbers, strategizing, retaining strength for future encounters. But what is left if you remove character control and pretty much everything except calculating stat numbers and filling the map? You obtain Loop hero, and it turns out to be a game full of amazingly unique ideas and a weird fantasy world that demands attention. There’s nothing quite like this weird combination of idle play autobattler with roguelite deck building and puzzley tile placement. This exploratory experience attracted me so much with its buffet of synergies and intelligent strategies that I lost track of time while playing most of the time. I only escaped because once its stat-building puzzles are solved, there’s not much you can do.
Even before we get to its strangely hypnotic and unorthodox gameplay, it must be said that it is the most excellently surrealistic apocalyptic fantasy setting since Dark souls. The world of Loop Hero ends; no one can remember things anymore, so those things disappear. Even abstract concepts like knowledge and permanence disappear into the void. It’s a delightfully disturbing and disorienting place where even elaborate pixel art portraits of villains don’t know what’s going on.Everything is forgotten except, of course, your lone hero, who travels a circular path through the void, battling monsters and – most importantly – remembering things before returning to rest over a campfire. You have weird, dreamlike conversations with the people and creatures you meet, from bandits who don’t know why they steal to goblins who have remembered themselves from the start. The conversations and the bits of knowledge to unlock are wonderfully meandering quirks.
The map is depicted with simple and charming pixel graphics for the loop itself, which begins with an angular, stroke-free path through the lonely darkness. It’s only inhabited by your hero – little more than a 4-bit white pixel blob – and a handful of bouncing green bubbles representing basic slime blob enemies. The art in combat is more detailed, showing 8-bit warriors struggling with basic attack animations, although like a 1990 RPG the sprites don’t vary with weapon changes or with enemies. The corresponding retro music is also good, although a few tracks play a bit too often during the few dozen hours that Loop Hero will likely take you to play. first few minutes you won’t do much, literally, because the battles are without intervention. Once you’re in a fight, your fate is controlled by your Attack Speed, Defense, and Damage stats, as well as those of your enemies, with a trait indicating whether the percentage of chance the Gods are giving you or no more Crits, Counters and Evades than the other camp. This even applies to boss battles: it’s very strictly your statistics compared to theirs. So for the first few curls without incident, well, now is a good time to fill your water glass or grab some snacks in the kitchen.
But Loop Hero keeps you busy and challenges you quickly – and this is where the ability to take a break between battles becomes essential. As your hero fights, he gains cards representing map tiles among his other loot, and the vanity is that the placement of these tiles allows the hero to “remember” only features such as thickets. forest, mountains, villages, rivers and more were actually part of the world along, bringing them back to reality.
However, with the perks that these tiles bring (largely minor things like increasing attack speed for forests or a city that restores some HP when your hero passes) come corresponding tradeoffs. Beasts inhabit the woods, vampires descend from their castles, skeletons roam graveyards, fishermen emerge from rivers, and gargoyles soar and land just about anywhere. I have found that balancing between adding useful tiles and not overwhelming my hero with new enemies is one of the best challenges in Loop Hero.
Watching the map go from a blank slate to an overwhelming collage is a rewarding sense of progression that at least makes up for your character’s lack of personalization. That said, the muted palette won’t be to everyone’s liking, nor the chunky pixel font in which all the text and stats appear (which you can change, thankfully, to something easier on the eyes or for dyslexics.)Loot that drops in battle is a big part of what keeps you busy – while it’s pretty robotic at first, soon you need to stop and think about the best stats for your class. Does your Warrior want to upgrade their auto health regeneration or vampirism to gain health with each hit? What stats will your necromancer sacrifice to be able to summon an additional skeleton in his dead party? You often swap out a sword or magic ring for a new shine, but this is where Loop Hero leans too hard on chance: if you don’t get the weapon you need for a few loops, you’ve just gone. exit. lucky because your damage does not follow.
That, and the only thing about loot is stats, stats, and more stats. There are six to eight for each of the three classes, and that seriously detracts from replayability, even when you look at the special abilities a class gets as you level up, as you can’t rely on just one stat to appear. constantly. moving treadmill at random speed. I’ve never had a single piece of gear so cool that it made me change the plan I had and build around it.
Your greatest angle of customization is in Loop Hero’s roguelite-style progression between Expeditions as you choose which of your unlocked card tiles you bring into your deck, and how those tiles relate to each other by synergizing into new forms. For example, a three-by-three group of nine mountains turns into a huge peak, and a town will give you more health if it has adjacent wheat fields. Because you have so little control over your actual hero, a big part of mastering Loop Hero is researching these bonuses, deciphering how they might benefit you, and figuring out the optimal combination of terrain for each of the three. hero classes.It’s a remarkably simple set of rules, and that’s a big part of what’s good about Loop Hero. Place tiles, equip your equipment, collect loot, go to camp, repeat. At the same time, this simplicity came to me when I was moping for hours at a time: there’s a certain amount of grind that needs to be done in order to progress. I’ve been on expeditions quite often not for the purpose of fighting and defeating the boss, but just repeating the same combos a few times and gaining resources so that I can retreat and buy a critical upgrade from me. It just seems anticlimactic and low stakes.
Whenever the Loop takes your hero to the Campfire, you can retreat to your camp with all of your resources gathered (as opposed to a mid-loop or death retreat, which leaves you with only a fraction of your loot.) camp over time, adding new buildings and people. This gives you the small incremental buffs you need to level up and beat the boss of each act. You can wear a farmer’s scythe to get more food from the fields you pass, a silver necklace to reduce damage from vampires, or build potions racks so you can take more care with you on the journey. (Additionally, while the developers have promised a fix for this issue soon, you currently cannot save your progress in the middle of the expedition – quitting and restarting takes you back to your city as if the race never happened. .)The point is, when I call these incremental upgrades, I really mean it. They are simple, straightforward and, frankly, bland. You get more health, more damage, more attack speed. They don’t change the way you play other than unlocking the two extra classes, which happens very early on. Loop Hero’s biggest flaw is that, aside from the sheer scale of the fiction and the ingenuity of the basic concept, it is neither ambitious nor creative in the details of its design. It doesn’t bring variety or shake things up often enough to avoid becoming stale. There are optimal ways to build your character – and once you’ve stumbled upon them, there’s very little incentive to try anything else.