Loop Hero Nintendo Switch Review
Developer: Four Quarters
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre(s): Deck-Builder, Roguelike, Simulation, Builder
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Also available on PC
Age Rating: PEGI12
Release Date: 09/12/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Loop De Loop
About a year or so ago the internet went a little insane over a little indie game called Loop Hero. Unfortunately, at the time it was PC only and due to me working with the darn things all day, I use them as little as possible at home. (He says as he types up a game review on his laptop, life eh?) The buzz words surrounding Loop Hero were, alone, enough to get me salivating. Deck-building and Roguelike are two of my favourite mechanisms, so I am already on board. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out!
The Lich has thrown the world into dark forgetful never-ending chaos. You, the hero of the tale, must ally with other heroes and survivors, build your camp and recover lost memories of the world pre-Lich. Loop Hero is an amalgamation of genres like no other. It truly is an original title and in this day and age that is a rare thing indeed. Loop Hero is part deck-builder, part roguelike, part idle-battler and all stirred into a presentation style ripped from the lofty days of the Amstrad.
Control Your Own Loop
Games like this really bury themselves into my veins. Loot-driven randomly generated games with addictive gameplay loops really please me. Loop Hero takes this to another level though with its weird, eclectic mix of systems and anomalous compound of genres. Loop Hero is split into two main parts, a base builder, which you build new buildings on, and an expedition section where most of the action takes place. The base building acts as a way to unlock new features, gain new buffs and bonuses and it is where use all the materials you get from your expeditions.
These expeditions are a strange thing too but I will do my best to explain them to you. You start each expedition on a randomly generated ‘loop’ that looks a bit like a go-kart track. Your hero will walk around this loop until you decide to exit or you beat the boss. The loop starts basic, with a few slimes dotting the area and this is where the game gets intriguing. The loop is malleable, the loop is yours to bend to your will, the loop is what you make of it. When you hit the part of the loop that has an enemy on it, you will enter a very simplistic battle screen.
During these battles, you and the enemies involved will just duke it out automatically. I know, it’s weird but the rewards you get from these battles completely guide how the rest of the loop will unfurl. You will get both cards, from a deck you have created, more on that later, and loot for your hero to equip. This loot will vary depending on your class but it is the usual stuff: weapons, helmets, armours, rings, shields, yada yada yada. While your hero is walking by himself and battling bravely by himself it is up to you to gear him accordingly. All the loot you gain, which can even be swapped out while your hero is fighting, will change his stats in many different ways.
All Loop Hero’s loot has skills that change the way your battles pan out. From more HP to vampirism and from attack speed to defence, equipping the correct items will massively affect each battle. Not only that but each time you loop around, the enemies get stronger and better items are required to proceed. The cards you gain allow you to place new buildings, scenery, and environmental tiles on your loop drastically changing what spawns, relative bonuses and this system in itself is a game all of its own, it at times, feels alive.
Your Cards Will Determine What Happens In Your Loop
You may have a card for a Vampire Mansion, this will spawn vampires in the adjacent squares around it. You get mountains that increase your base HP and Meadows that heal you each day. What’s fascinating about these loop-building activities is that over the course of many laps of the loop you see the map getting busier and busier. When you also factor in that the tiles change when they interact with each other it’s a massively complex thing for something that looks, on the surface, so simple. It’s a wonderful, fascinating system that rewards experimentation.
So, deep breath, while you are lapping your loop there is a daytime counter that spawns enemies, along with a cheery cockrel sound when the day is over. This spawns new monsters on your loop depending on your placement of cards, design choices, and tile placement, you also get HP back from various elements in your loop like meadows. Loop Hero is a constant juggling act between keeping enough enemies about to progress but not getting overwhelmed by pesky critters and monsters.
Make Sure You take The Right Cards With You
So the deck-building. Before you get into an expedition you can choose what cards make up your deck. A bit like Hearthstone, Slay the Spire, and other games of that ilk. These cards are unlocked in your home base by building or upgrading the buildings with the resources you get during expeditions. These resources come from when your character automatically scraps loot and cards you can no longer hold. Be careful though, if you die or decide to leave the loop before you hit your camp you will only take a small percentage of your resources.
The thing I really like about Loop Hero, like really like, is that fact it requires very little interaction. I can play it while watching tv, listening to a podcast, or just get a few loops dusted in bed. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of game here, it is just that your small interactions make a massive difference on what is happening and your minute-to-minute decisions are massively influential. It is like your driving an out-of-control bus but the only thing you can do is decide what shady part of town it drives through.
Beautiful, Retro Presentation To The Core
If you looked briefly at Loop Hero your first thoughts would be “What the hell is that?” and probably shortly after, “Why does it look like something I played on my Spectrum?” both are valid questions. Loop Hero has this lovely aesthetic. Classic, like the games from my youth. Most people will turn their noses up at it but not me, I think it’s quaint and gives Loop Hero a vivid personality of its own. It’s the same with the basic chiptune music and crunchy sound bites, traditional, beautiful and they remind me of gaming times of old.
My only issue with Loop Hero is that it crashed a few times on me, mainly when using the touchscreen and it was a bit irksome, thank god for auto-save. Hopefully, they can be ironed out with a few patches down the line. I must say though since I stopped using the touchscreen I have not had a crash. I just wish the game had not shipped with these quirky software issues. It is the only negative thing I have to say really. Maybe some players will find the game a bit grindy but not me. I like this kind of grinding, where I am constantly working towards a goal.
A Unique, Quirky Game That I Am So Glad Exists
Loop Hero has its claws in me, it’s retrograde, addictive, roguelike claws. While some may scoff at its presentation and music style, I adore it. I adore its addictive gameplay loop, I adore its mesh of weird systems and I adore that it can be taken anywhere, be played anytime, and in short bursts. Games like Loop Hero should be applauded, they are unique, push the envelope and mean we get less recycled cut and paste games. I am so glad it exists.
4 out of 5
If you want to buy Loop Hero on the Nintendo Switch, you can here.
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