One of the big challenges of running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign is figuring out how much you need to push back against your players. How difficult should each encounter be? How many Hobgoblins do you need to place outside the village to make the encounter feel dangerous, without punishing your friends? In Loop Hero, these are the types of decisions you’ll make as you watch your little pixel protagonist walk a lonely path, suspended in the inky remnants of a shattered universe.
Every race in Loop hero begins at a campfire on a desolate road loop, and your hero starts every journey with nothing. Whenever you kill a beast or monster on the way, you have a chance to pick up cards or materials. Gear can be equipped, granting stat bonuses like attack speed and evasion, while cards are used to add complexity to the circuit itself, adding new monster spawners and buffs. passive.
The cards are available in two main varieties. Terrain cards, like mountains and deserts, add extra bonuses to your run – mountains boost your defense, while each desert tile subtracts a percentage point from your enemy’s health. These can synergize in surprising ways, and finding these interactions is one of Loop Hero’s first delights.
The other type of map changes the loop itself, either with maps that turn sections of barren wasteland into something like a swamp or village, or by adding structure to the side of the road. These can be anything from headlights, which increase attack speed for you and your enemies, to spooky mansions that spawn vampires – each has an effect on the difficulty of your run.
As a sort of dungeon master, your job is to manage the difficulty level of the hero’s journey. You want to meet as many enemies as possible without killing your explorer, and just like in blackjack, the closer you get to failure, the better the rewards. Enemies get stronger with each circuit, so your only chance to evolve with them is to gain better loot.
just like in blackjack, the closer you get to failure, the better the rewards
If you miscalculate, you still have a few options. You can retreat wherever you are on the trail, retaining 60% of the resources you’ve gathered with your cards and gear. If you wait until you complete a loop and get to your campfire, you’ll be able to keep everything. Even if you die, you keep 30% of the materials you picked up during your journey, which you can use in your camp to build structures that unlock new heroes, cards, and passive buffs.
The heroes each have their own interesting quirks and unique gear. The thief collects trophies rather than equipment, which are then exchanged for loot each time you complete a circuit. The necromancer lifts skeletons to do the actual combat, and the equipment you choose will determine their effectiveness in combat.
Retro Amiga-style graphics belies a game that borrows from an impressive array of genres. Loop Hero is an RPG that involves fighting monsters as different character classes, selecting higher level bonuses, and equipping gear looted from fallen enemies. It’s a deck-building card game where you build each race with tiles you unlock. There is a basic building component that helps complete the story and provides new tools and bonuses for your expeditions.
Loop Hero keeps me involved by pressuring me to plan ahead
Loop Hero also uses casual and mobile gaming cradles like Autobattlers wherever it sees fit. You watch your character automatically circle the loop, only suspending the action to equip new items, placing increasingly difficult obstacles for your hero, and shaping the terrain around the circuit.
There is also a story. A malevolent lich has thrown all of existence into oblivion, and our hero awakens in a strange state of stasis. Time has no meaning and revolves around itself – nothing is permanent, everything repeats itself endlessly. It was only by remembering the world as it was that our hero can hope to restore existence itself, and so you’ve decided to put things back together, one step at a time.
Loop Hero places limits on the number of cards, forcing you to carefully consider which buffs and enemies you want to keep rotating, and which to discard on each new turn. Spider nests are good for the farming experience, but their numbers can become overwhelming in later loops. You could ditch them in favor of keeping a vampire mansion in play, which adds fearsome vampires to other encounters, but does not spawn monsters by itself. The best call depends entirely on how your hero is progressing: a tough foe like a vampire might prove too much if your damage is low, while a hard-hitting hero might not be able to strike fast enough to deal with multiple. smaller creatures at one time.
The first chapters of Loop Hero gradually increase the difficulty, introducing you to new enemy abilities and bosses, but without overwhelming you with new considerations. Chapter Four dramatically raises the stakes, and suddenly you’ll find yourself relying on the in-game clock – every tile you place moves the timer forward, and once it hits a certain threshold you’ll face a mighty boss. who will mop the floor with your hero if they are not ready.
For every problem that pops up while I’m playing, Loop Hero has an answer. When I tire of slowness, I use the button that doubles the game speed. When the resource grind starts to grip my nerves, a new chapter unlocks and increases my income. Conversations with new NPCs or enemies on the road keep me interested in the desolate world, and each new tile synergy excites by hinting at new enemies or new terrain possibilities.
It’s hard to get mad about the pace when a game gives you so much control over that exact element. You make small adjustments that add up during each descent, and when one of them goes wrong, it’s usually pretty clear you’ve made too drastic a change to your patio or gone a bit too much. away with a particular type of terrain. Even what I thought was my main complaint – that there isn’t enough Loop Hero to discover – doesn’t hold up very well considering that even after 8pm I still discover new tile interactions that I can. experiment. on future races.
While this feels more passive to me than RPG games that put me right in the dusty hero’s shoes, Loop Hero keeps me involved by pressuring me to plan ahead – I’m less concerned with the next fight than with the next fight. what happens further down the trail, and beyond, what the trail will look like next time.
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