Have you always wanted to trudge through a gloomy, barren landscape while slaughtering spiders, vampires and deadly bosses? Yes, you’ve played the game before. But what if, instead of directly controlling the battle, you placed all of the hazards, bonuses, and environments your hero would encounter? When you become the world designer of a dark fantasy simulation, you need to use Loop Hero to create a world that won’t kill your character but is tough enough to forge a hero. As a great designer and dungeon master, it’s up to you to pause the game in a fun and inventive way. Loop Hero is an addicting amalgamation that completely intrigued me with its initial hooks, but the experience isn’t as deep as the first few hours would show.
As your champ tackles the loop (a never-ending path that heals every time you complete a cycle), they step through dangers and boons of your own design. You have no direct control over their actions in combat, from swinging a sword to summoning a skeleton. Once you are in combat, it will work in a certain way and there is nothing you can do to watch. Basically just imagine that your “attack” button is taped on your favorite turn-based RPG. However, this is not a game for idle minds; Effective gaming requires a very demanding attention to detail, planning and constant optimization. The path through each loop is filled with decisions big and small, so you are constantly thinking about how to improve your current run and subsequent ones, which will feel satisfying and cerebral.
Instead of choosing character actions, engage in simulation-style dungeoncraft by setting up villages where the hero can pick up quests, making archer towers to defeat high-ranking monsters, and enjoying the healing serenity of peaceful meadows. Loop Hero’s clever challenge is to put together a deck with the right attractions, environments, and enemies to match your talent choices and loot drops. Creating the right elements for your traveler to battle their way through as you tackle different stages as a warrior, villain, or necromancer is a creative and fun endeavor.
The best part of Loop Hero is experimenting with your tile toolkit and seeing how they combine in interesting ways. Combine rocks and mountains into one towering peak that offers great bonuses but also summons dangerous harpies to land on the loop. Turn your vampires into arcane acolytes by setting them up near a bookstore and creating vampire magicians who lose powerful resources. Use street lights to reduce the number of deadly enemies on your carefully crafted battle route. Trying out all possible tile combinations is pleasant for double-digit hours, but once you’ve made the best possible selection, exploring is a lot of fun. While Loop Hero seems to have a great deal of depth and complexity in the selection of tiles, it has less workable options for starting each run than it initially appears. After my early enchantment wore off, Loop Hero left me stuck in repetitive resource runs until I was ready to take on the final boss.
Loop Hero is a roguelite and you unlock new tools, options, and powers. As you continue to play (and die) across a camp, you develop outside of the loops. Imagine building a table collection with pieces for you Dungeons Play with new monsters, environments and treasures. The roguelite elements are pretty significant. Even if you keep falling into your looping search, you can still keep resources to grow. If you die on a run, you can only keep a third of the resources you were holding. However, if you pick the right moment to escape, you can keep it all and create a risk / reward dilemma to deal with every time you jump into the loop. If you’re like me, you’ll almost always risk everything and curse your judgment after being crushed by a boss. That’s fine – you will still grow and learn, but it may take a little longer to get to the more difficult chapters.
Loop Hero is a creative and clever little game that should be on your radar if you like strategy, RPGs, deck builders, roguelikes, or all of the above. While its novelty begins to wither the further you get from your opening hours, the trip is worth it and is exciting.