|Platforms||PC (Steam, EGS)|
|Release Date||March 4th, 2021|
Loop Hero is a deck-builder roguelike from Russian developer Four Quarters and published by Devolver Digital. While I can’t compare it to any single video game, titles such as Slay the Spire and Monster Train paved the way for such a game to become a breakout hit. Looper Hero sold 500,000 copies in its first week, joining Valheim on Steam’s bestseller list in 2021—and it’s only March! Loop Hero is a game that can be tough to describe, and even as I wrote this review, I’ve only scratched the surface of all that it has to offer.
Spiritual Themes: Loop Hero takes place in a dark fantasy setting in which players will fight against supernatural creatures such as zombies, skeletons, vampires, goblins, and other fantastical creatures. Players have the option of choosing between three classes; one of them is a necromancer. Players can acquire magical stats and buffs that will aid them on their quest—one of them being vampirism, in which they steal HP from an enemy.
Violence: When combat takes place, players do not have direct control of the battle. However, they must equip various types of weapons, armor, and more to prepare for battle. Enemy encounters take place in a turn-based format, and we don’t see any attacks connect. Characters will die and fall in combat when their health reaches zero.
Loop Hero is a deck-builder, but not in the same sense as its predecessors. You’re being dealt cards for your hand that you’ll want to place on the field of your adventure. You, as the player, are also not in direct control of your character. The goal is to place those cards along and around the procedurally generated path that your character travels on. At the end of the trail is the campfire and where you started—hence the game’s title. Also, a Lich has plunged the world into an endless loop of chaos, including dangerous supernatural creatures.
When starting a run, you have two main objectives: survive enough loops to gather resources and/or defeat the boss. While on your quest to defeat the Lich, you must help a group of survivors build a thriving camp. The hook of the game is to collect as many resources as you can without dying. The catch is that you can only collect 100% of what you acquired if you retreat at the campfire, 60% if you exit mid-loop, and 30% upon your death. This literal gameplay loop keeps the gamble of making one more trip vs. heading back to base with what you have at the forefront of your mind. That factor makes for a very addictive experience, but the depth that hides within is what keeps many other players and me coming back for more.
The cards that you place down are environments that piece together along your journey. Many of these cards bring forth enemies that stand in your character’s way, which results in automatic turn-based combat. Defeated enemies will drop weapons and other equipment that you might want to equip on your character as they walk the loop. The cards placed on the loop not only spawn your foes but offer perks and can synergize with other cards. In Loop Hero, if you wish to get stronger, challenges and obstacles await when you place those cards—an additional element to the addictive gameplay. Other cards aren’t placed directly on the path; they play a more supportive role, such as increasing your HP: or decreasing enemy presence when placed near your path.
What I think players will enjoy most is how the cards synergize with one another. A helpful combination was placing a Blood Grove near one of my forest tiles, which devours my enemies when they reach 15% health. Another one that becomes worth it down a run is placing a Vampire Mansion next to a village, that village will eventually become a Count’s Land that will heal me, but first, I must deal with some vampires and local ghouls for a few runs to get those benefits. A unique example is placing nine mountains or stones together, forming a Peak, which spawns Harpies. You’ll want to explore every combination possible and spawn specific creatures from them because they likely hold the resources you want to build your camp.
That’s right, building up your survivor camp is another significant layer to this deep game. The ability to construct a building you want requires the resources that you obtain. Expanding your basecamp opens up new and vital features such as the playable Rogue and Necromancer classes. Buildings such as the supply depot will give the ability to bring passive buffs along for the journey and the Gymnasium that unlocks perks that you can gain upon leveling up. This is why you’ll need to weigh out the pros and cons when thinking about going around for another pass because you can get out with what you have and be rewarded or risk losing nearly all of it.
At this point, you are intrigued, or it sounds like too much for your taste. I’ve found myself watching several youtube videos on any tips and tricks I can learn to maximize my adventures’ efficiency. There are already wikis out there will detailed explanations on everything else I wanted to know about too. The fact that you may need to look stuff up can be a deterrent, but for me, that’s been part of the fun of Loop Hero. Since my first session with the game, I’ve found myself going down some rabbit holes to know everything I can about some new cards I’ve unlocked.
Possibly my favorite feature of Loop Hero is the ability to pause the action. You can hit a button that will stop time while walking along the road. This helped me think on my feet a lot more, especially when I would need to place certain cards that would better my chances of survival during a loop. Also, the game pauses when you float over your inventory in battle. The pause during those moments might save your life if you have some better gear to equip that you acquired from a fallen enemy. Stopping time to assess the field and make the right moves is a welcome and essential part of the gameplay. Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on the time meter, because enemies and other effects will respawn and reset when it fills and goes back to zero.
Though it has been trending on Twitch, Loop Hero is not a game that I would find entertaining to watch; it’s much more fun to play. Its presentation might seem lacking with the low-quality pixel art and poor audio. However, the game’s style takes inspiration from old PC games that some might remember from childhood. It may not be on any lists for the most beautiful games of 2021, but the soundtrack sticks out as one that helps me get entranced into the gameplay and lost in the loop.
A list that Loop Hero may end up on, however, is Game of the Year. So far, it is one of the most unique games that I have played in 2021. It is very easy to sink an hour or two into the game every night, and telling yourself “one more run” will happen often. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you fancy yourself a fan of card and tabletop games, you should at least give it a try. Loop Hero has a massive amount of depth that that particular audience craves, and something I didn’t know I’d be looking for either. Do yourself a favor and vibe to the game’s soundtrack, or throw on a podcast and get lost in Loop Hero for a few hours.
Review copy kindly provided by Tinsley PR and Devolver Digital
The Bottom Line
Loop Hero provides a deep experience that will last for endless hours, and rises above the standards of the genre.