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Loop Hero Review – Refreshing Reiteration

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Ever wanted to walk through a dark, desolate landscape while slaughtering spiders, vampires, and deadly bosses? Yes, you’ve played this game before. But what if, instead of directly controlling the combat, you place all the dangers, bonuses, and environments that your hero would encounter? As you become the creator of the world of a dark fantasy simulation, Loop Hero tasks you with creating a world that won’t kill your character but is strong enough to forge a hero. As a great designer and dungeon master, it’s up to you to smash the game in all kinds of fun and inventive ways. Loop Hero is an addictive fusion that completely captivated me with its initial hooks, but the experience isn’t as deep as the first few hours suggest.

As your champion tackles the loop (an endless path that heals each time you complete a cycle), he goes through the dangers and benefits of your own design. You have no direct control over their actions in combat, from swinging a sword to summoning a skeleton. Once you’re in the fight, it’s going to play out a certain way and there’s nothing you can do but watch. Basically imagine that your “attack” button is registered on your favorite turn-based RPG. However, this is not a game for idle minds; effective play requires fairly careful attention to detail, planning, and constant adjustments. The path through each loop is filled with decisions big and small, so you’re continually thinking about how to improve your current run and the ones that follow, which is satisfying and cerebral.

Instead of choosing character actions, you engage in simulation-style dungeons by setting up villages for the hero to choose quests, crafting archer towers to help defeat high-level monsters, and enjoying the healing tranquility of peaceful meadows. Putting together a deck filled with the right attractions, environments, and enemies to go along with your talent choices and loot is the smart challenge of Loop Hero. Building the right set of items for your traveler to struggle with is a creative and enjoyable endeavor as you take on different stages as a warrior, thug, or necromancer.

Experimenting with your tile toolbox and seeing how they combine in an interesting way is the best part of Loop Hero. Combine rocks and mountains to create a towering summit that offers big bonuses, but also summons dangerous harpies that land on the loop. Transform your vampires into arcane sidekicks by setting them up near a bookstore, creating vampire mages who drop powerful resources. Use high beams to reduce the number of deadly enemies on your carefully assembled battle track. Trying out all the possible tile combinations is nice for double-digit hours, but once you’ve learned the best possible choices, it drains considerable joy from exploring. While Loop Hero appears to have a lot of depth and complexity in the tile choices, it has fewer viable options to start each run than it initially appears. After my first enchantment wore off, Loop Hero left me mired in repetitive resource races until I was ready to face the final boss.

Loop Hero is a roguelite, and you unlock new tools, options, and powers and as you continue to play (and die) via encampment, you expand outside of loops. Think of it as if you are building a collection of table pieces for your Dungeons and dragons game with new monsters, environments and treasures. The roguelite elements are quite important, so even if you fall over and over on your quest on a loop, you can keep the resources to grow. If you die while running, you only keep a third of the resources you had. But if you choose a convenient time to get away from it all, you can keep it all, creating a risk / reward dilemma that is fun to engage with every dive in the loop. If you’re like me, you’re almost always going to risk everything and curse your judgment after being wiped out by a boss. That’s okay – you’ll still grow and learn, but it may take a little longer to get through the more difficult chapters.

Loop Hero is a creative and clever little game that should be on your radar if you like strategy, RPGs, deckbuilders, roguelikes, or all of the above. While its novelty starts to wear off as you move away from your opening hours, the trip is worth it and engaging.

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