Loop Hero is a Roguelike, but also a Dungeon Crawler built from scratch by the player himself, with aspects of an Idle and Deckbuilding title, which has a graphical look reminiscent of titles from the old NES.
The player plays the role of a Knight who embarked on the adventure of discovering what happened to the place where he once lived. Everything around him is under a dark film, filled with a haze of vague memories of small notes of what once existed and now does not. Behind this cataclysm is a figure full of bones, embraced by a magical mantle and unimaginable powers that decided to erase every corner of the vast universe.
The protagonist aims to clear the bare paths of a road full of nothing, randomly generated and presented in a circular shape that makes it possible to complete a full circle of the map. The player aims to add elements to the map, in a kind of “tower defense” on the contrary, where the cards played are distributed among small portions of land that help in a way to complete the Loop, or portions of the map that contain enemies. Each pass through a location can generate resource capture and encounters against enemies generate resource capture as well as equipment used in combat itself.
But what is the purpose of this Loop? The truth is that there is really much more to it than just a simple Loop.
Each Loop starts in a little campfire and with each successful loop there is the possibility of returning to the main camp with all the resources, so far, collected. If you want, for some reason, to escape halfway, you will only take 60% of the collected resources. Whereas if the Hero loses all his life bar, he only takes 30% of the collected resources.
With each new placement of the different cards on the map, there is an increase in the Boss Spawn bar of the chapter in question. It is, therefore, necessary to pay attention and adjust the use of cards with what is happening on the game board. This bar is present in the upper left corner side by side with the time of day bar. However, only with the confrontation and consequent destruction of the Boss is it possible to advance to a new chapter.
Adventure progression equates to capturing new resources, new enemies, and new encounters against Chapter Ending Bosses. The resources are used in the construction of new areas, or the possibility of upgrading existing areas in the camp is used between each new “Run”. This upgrade mechanic generates new variables for the Loop itself. For example with the construction of the Herbalist, there is access to passive skills, such as potions, used automatically and when necessary, during the adventure. Or more active skills, such as new cards for the player’s deck, or access to new player classes, in the construction of new buildings.
Each class has different equipment and mechanics, which directly equates to a different approach to enemy encounters and a learning path that is mostly based on trial and error. However, for the most part, I only used the highest level material and didn’t get too attached to the skills attached to them. This is not to say that the abilities of each piece of equipment are not important, because they really are. I found the Necromancer Class particularly interesting and reborn my battalion of Undeads to fight all the adversities created by me.
The complexity of the gameplay itself is truly remarkable. It takes some time to fully understand the combinations that each card can make, to proceed with the construction of the perfect road or corner. This work is done in the creation of the “deck” and applied to the game board, according to each player’s style of play.
The use of the Nintendo Switch controller is fluid but it is natural to find some frustration due to the need to use too many buttons to select the different options. The simplest is to use the console’s touch screen. Still, everything looks a little small to be clicked or dragged across the monitor.
Everything about this title fits like a glove. From its simple but very appealing graphic style, through the soundtracks that change its beat depending on the situation, you’re in, to its addictive game style. With each new Loop, with each new card, there was only one song in his head… Should I Stay or Should I Go.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Nintendo Switch provided by Devolver Digital, and for Steam acquired by me]