by December 17, 2021 @ 9:30 am
Reviewed on Switch
It’s oddly mesmerizing when a game can be equal parts challenging and comforting. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but Loop Hero manages to successfully pull it off. The game, developed by Four Quarters and published by Devolver Digital, provides an experience that could definitely be a time sink you play in between games, or it could be something you dedicate hours upon hours to each day — because it’s just that well-designed. Not to mention, it’s just a perfect fit on Nintendo Switch.
Loop Hero can be a tricky little game to understand. Once you get it, though — which doesn’t take too long, mind you — the game takes you on a “one more try” journey that’s up there with the best of ’em. In terms of mechanics, it combines RPG, auto-battler, deck-building, and roguelite elements. That can be a little overwhelming to get at first, but the game does an excellent job of combining this mesh of styles in a way that’s as invigorating as it is captivating.
Each round, or loop, your hero will walk along a top-down map. Sprinkled on this map are a few enemies that’ll grant you new gear — weapons, armor, buffs — as well as cards. The gear works just as you’d expect it to: You basically equip whatever’s better than what you currently have. This is in terms of both damage and defense, as well as boosts such as faster auto-healing over time, damage to all enemies at once, and better evasion against attacks.
Cards work a little differently, and their main purpose is to build the map around you, which means better resources, healing, and overall health. The flip-side to this is that a lot of these cards also add stronger enemies to the map. It’s easy enough to battle a blob and a couple spiders, but once you start adding vampires, skeleton soldiers, and other stronger baddies to the mix, you’re in for a big fight.
You might be asking, “Why would I want to add more enemies to the map?” Well, the higher tier cards yield better resources that you collect over time. These resources can then be used to upgrade your camp when you’re not in a loop, which thus grants you better world cards, equipment upgrades, and other perks that will make progression much smoother.
It’ll Sink Its Hooks in Ya!
Like other roguelikes such as Hades or ScourgeBringer, it’s really all about playing the long game when it comes to Loop Hero. At first, you’ll see very little progress made in early loops. But the more you play, and the more you upgrade your camp, the deeper you’ll be able to go. Pretty soon you’ll see even stronger enemies and boss characters, and eventually, you’ll be able to progress the story and move on to new chapters.
Of course, this all takes time. It took me a few hours of play before I even saw a boss character, and then several more hours to get even a few hits in when I battled said boss. Then, it took some more time to actually get past the boss and move on to a new chapter.
But that’s just how Loop Hero is, and that’s all a part of its appeal. It’s a game you play when you want to sink your teeth into something meaty and substantial. Loop Hero is something that, thanks to this recent Switch version release, you lean back in your favorite chair to play — for thirty minutes here and there, or maybe even for an hour or two.
Beyond just being fairly gripping from a gameplay perspective, Loop Hero is also oddly charming thanks to its quaint pixel art and simple music design. It’s definitely unassuming, but it’s also as enjoyable to look at and listen to for its presentation as it is to play for its depth.
This isn’t a game with time loop mechanics like, say, Treasures of the Aegean, but it’s no less enticing. Actually, it might be even stronger of a game thanks to its various turning gears and systems in place. Loop Hero is awesome and it’ll hook you. And best of all, it can be anything you want it to be: It’ll either be the thing you play to kill some spare moments, or it’ll take over all of your precious free time. In any case, you’ll be treated to a challenging and exciting time.
Score: 8 out of 10
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