Check out our review of Devolver Digital’s latest indie darling – Loop Hero…
A pixel art title that combines elements of deck building, rogue-lite, RPG and idle games, we find out if this bizarre combination of influences works as a total package.
Hey how’s it going guys! This is Tom from UDS and welcome to our review of Loop Hero, where we’ll reveal everything you need to know before you play. If you’re a fan of all things video games, make sure to join our Discord and of course subscribe here for more reviews and features every single week. You’re not going to want to miss it.
Devolver Digital have quietly carved out a reputation for publishing some of the most innovative indie games of recent times. The pixel art gorefest that was Carrion was my personal favourite game of last year, and Devolver are looking to start 2021 strong as well with Loop Hero.
But defining what Loop Hero is isn’t straightforward. Blending elements of rogue-lites, idle games, RPGs and deck building, it promises to offer something refreshingly new, yet distinctly familiar. But we’ll take a deeper look at the gameplay and whether it pays off in a little bit.
As for the story, we’re introduced to a world robbed of everything, right down to its memories, by a malevolent big baddie known as The Lich. It’s up to you as the nameless protagonist to rekindle these lost memories, revive a darkened world and save the day.
But with an interesting premise and unusual concoction of genres, does Loop Hero deliver? Watch on to find out…
Naturally, the gameplay is the most important element and it’s largely very passive. You lay cards on a loop, each of which will have an impact on your journey and/or the larger world. The effects of them, whether they be positive like a health boost or challenging like an enemy encounter, play out automatically – you won’t actually be swinging the sword or casting a spell yourself. But you can easily swap between action and strategy thanks to the planning phase, which pauses time, allowing you to survey the situation, take stock of your loot and determine your next move. This slower, more methodical take to gameplay won’t be to everyone’s taste, but offers a really cool take on the balance between risk and reward.
But why would you pick to play a risky card? Well, seemingly more dangerous tiles like Vampire Mansions and Spider Cocoons grant a higher chance of finding useful loot, such as armour and weapons. These also allow you to boost your various stats, but only true edgelords put everything into Vampirism.
You can decide to cut a loop short at the cost of a chunk of your loot, but with more coming back to camp with you than if you decide to push too far and die on your adventure. This is particularly useful in the early game, where completing a loop is nigh on impossible.
Once back at camp, which serves as your safe hub world, you can use materials gathered on your travels to build new structures, which in turn boosts your stats for the next run. It all thematically makes sense, with a field kitchen offering a health buff and shelter boosting your base HP.
The only thing is it can be a real grind to get the rarer materials needed to build out your camp, particularly in the earlier stages. I wish there was a little bit more variety in terms of the cards and loot in these preliminary loops, but I still found it hugely satisfying balancing all the different mechanics.
Each loop takes about 20 minutes to complete, and these bitesize chunks can get highly addictive, much in the same way as games like Hades.
As for the story, for a title with such a seemingly minimalist style, there’s a surprising amount of depth. Much like the loop maps themselves, the narrative expands out organically, revealing a dark, macabre tale that’s up there with some of Devolver’s best. All the on screen text and dialogue is beautifully written, and I loved sifting through the lore of each monster class to find out about as much of the world of Loop Hero as I could.
But the real dopamine hit comes from the game’s aesthetics. It’s just a delight to look at, and in a market already saturated with pixel art titles, it manages to stand head and shoulders from the pack.
The soundtrack is, if anything, even more impressive. The chiptune beats are up there with Castlevania and Zelda, and I can fully see myself humming these tracks as much as I do the classics. If there’s not a vinyl pressing of the soundtrack at some point in future, I’m going to be severely disappointed.
Loop Hero was ambitious to try and combine so many elements from so many genres into one package, but for the most part it’s an experiment that pays off. This isn’t a game for those looking for a hack and slash romp, rather those looking for a more methodical, strategic adventure through an enchantingly haunting world. If you’re into deck building games and are looking for a different take on the usual formula, this is an experience tailor made for you.
But what did you think of Loop Hero and me slowly losing my voice? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to hit subscribe for more reviews and features every single week. My name is Tom, I’m going to grab a lozenge and I’ll see you next time.