Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Have you ever done the same thing over and over again expecting different results? Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten stuck in a rut and are repeating the same things with little to show for it? Well then, perhaps you’d like to take a look at Loop Hero, a game that capitalizes on what it means to repeat the same actions and expect different results.
Loop Hero provides you with a nameless knight in a world that has been devoured by the void, and a lich. The Hero has found that his memories, as well as the world around him have all but disappeared, with naught but a campfire to light his way. Undeterred, he sets out to try and regain his memories, and restore the world, by roaming the single looping path he can see.
Loop Hero is a bit of a weird combination of deck builder, autobattler, and resource manager, all rolled into a single package. Your nameless hero will automatically walk around the loop, fighting any enemies that happen to spawn. As you walk around the loop, there is a day/night counter that fills up over time, including in battle. Most effects and spawning happen at the beginning of a day or loop. As your hero defeats enemies, you can earn equipment and cards. Equipment is pretty easy to understand. Earn it, equip it, gain any bonus effects it has. The cards you acquire can be placed either on the exterior of the loop, or on the loop itself, and will provide various effects. For example, mountains and rocks must be placed away from the path, but will give the hero additional maximum health. Forests can be placed on the looping path, and can spawn a ratwolf every so many days. As you place cards, a gauge will fill. Once it fills…excitement!
While your hero will automatically walk around the loop, and automatically battle enemies, you can “pause” the looping to place cards on the map and sort through your equipment. You also have a setting to “pause” while your mouse is hovering over your equipment. But what if that equipment isn’t enough? What can you do to get that extra oomph you need to continue the fight? Well, it turns out that the increasingly stronger enemies per loop aren’t the only ones that can get an upgrade. As you place cards, walk over placed tiles, or let your equipment or land tiles “overflow”, you gain resources. These resources may be brought back to camp to construct buildings or upgrade existing buildings. This has different benefits, such as allowing you to bring along healing potions, or unlocking new character classes. You will need the bonuses too, as every time you return from an expedition and then set out again, you lose all your items and progress, restarting without any equipment or card bonuses.
Loop Hero is quite minimalist in its design, with low-bit style graphics and the standard loop music isn’t all that exciting, but when the chapter boss descends, look for the music to kick up a notch. Loop Hero is, at its core, closer to something like a dungeon master, instead of a player. In this case however, your player is going through the same dungeon over and over, and you have to place the monster tiles to challenge them, before being forced to call a boss out to get them to move on with the story. This is what a lot of Loop Hero comes down to: how much can you push the hero to earn as much as possible without killing them? Sure, you can place down a bunch of spider nests and vampire houses, but your hero might not be able to take all that beating. But the treasure! Is it worth it, or will you simply kill off the hero by accident?
Luckily, even if you lose the game isn’t over. If you kick the bucket, you lose a LOT of resources, but you can start over once again. On the other hand, you can retain a lot of resources if you tag out early, but then you have to start again from the first loop again. I know I was rather unhappy when I had a really good set of equipment, a ton of resources, and the boss appeared, I didn’t know whether to challenge him or run away and keep my resources. I chose to fight! And promptly got my but beat like a drum.
Loop Hero may be rather basic in its appearance, but you will soon find yourself rooted in the simplistic gameplay. There’s planning, strategy, and enough luck to make you want to kick yourself some runs. The graphics certainly aren’t anything special, and the music is only really catching when the boss appears, but you get rather invested in creating your own unique layout. While it can be frustrating in a game to have to repeat the same thing over and over, Loop Hero thrives in this environment. While there may be some frustrating moments when the RNG doesn’t go your way, it’s really rewarding to see the hero survive through your fabricated gauntlet.Score: 8 / 10