Another month, another neat roguelike to take a look at. This time it’s a deckbuilder, which we do get quite a few of these days, but this one comes with an interesting twist.
Alright, let’s dive right into the gameplay. Loop Hero is a bit of an interesting one. It’s a roguelike deckbuilder, but it’s one where the combat and movement is done automatically. It’s kinda like a mobile game in this sense, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. The input from the player comes in the form of inventory and map management. Half of the game is managing your character’s equipment and making sure they have the best possible loadout whereas the other half is dropping tiles down on the map to further your goal. On one run you may want to place tiles to build your stats to take down the boss, whereas on another you might build your deck to include tiles that aid in farming a specific material.
Materials earned during a single run are then brought back to home base where they can be used to construct buildings to further your efforts in future runs – the game has a nice sense of progression there for a roguelike. That’s pretty much the core to the gameplay in Loop Hero and it may sound simple, but don’t let that description fool you – there’s quite a bit of depth to it.
For one, the tiles you can place (which are the cards in your deck) have a bunch of different synergies. The swamp, for example, reverses the effect of heals and vampirism. So, if you slap down a vampire mansion next to a swamp, the vampires that spawn end up hurting themselves in combat, making farming for vampire items easier.
That and these tiles can also work in tandem with your equipment. The spider cocoon, for example, spawns a bunch of lower HP enemies, making it a great match for equipment with “damage to all” stats – as your damage affects the entire group instead of just one enemy. Those are just a couple examples though, there is a lot of depth to this game and it’s to the extent where I started busting out the spreadsheets to keep track of it all – as dedicated fans have already done so for the game’s demo.
The gameplay is very addicting in this way. It’s got that “simple on the surface”-kinda look, but the different combos, the RNG, and just the amount of options available really kept me going. I would get to loop 15 or so in one run, lose almost everything to a high-level monster, and then hop right back in for the next one. It’s a bit forgiving in that, in the event you do die, you still get to keep a third of your earned materials, so there’s always progress being made even if you get slapped during a good run.
And you’ll be doing a LOT of these runs. Some to farm materials for camp upgrades, some to run the boss over and over for rare loot, and some just to see how far you can go. I won’t deny I wasn’t the biggest fan of how grindy it was, but at least no two runs were quite the same and I had a good time trying out different strats. In one run, I tried to make every tile a village (so I constantly healed as I moved), while in another, I gunned it to the boss by placing down as many tiles as fast as I possibly could.
Still, RNG is the deciding factor in most of these runs. Sometimes you won’t get the card drops you need and sometimes you’ll just get the most garbage equipment. It fluctuates A LOT, but at least you have some sense of control in that you can customize your deck before starting a run to maximize certain pulls. The random nature also means that it may take you thirty hours to clear or may take you sixty, it’s easily a game where you can push these bigger times especially if you’re gathering materials to upgrade your camp.
Otherwise, the fact that movement and combat is done automatically makes it a kinda laidback game – something you can play while listening to a podcast or maybe even an audiobook. This is also one of my major complaints with it: that being it simply moves too slow. There is a 2x speed option, but the game really needs higher alternatives, 4x, 8x, maybe even 16x. Granted, this would make runs a lot shorter, but as it stands, they kinda feel inflated because you’re often just sitting there waiting for combat to end.
As for story, art, and music, well, those don’t really take center stage here. The story is limited to dialogue snippets between characters and is mostly just fluff, the art isn’t bad, but really isn’t anything noteworthy, and the music I honestly can’t even remember – I guess it was just that forgettable. This is a game 100% focused on the gameplay and it shows here – which isn’t really a problem for me, but I can see it being one for others.
And on the performance side of things, I had zero bugs, crashes, or any other technical issue. It ran flawlessly at 1440p and 60 fps, which the game is capped at. The settings are very limited in that there’s only a fullscreen and window option, font options, some gameplay settings, and audio sliders – pretty much just all the basics and nothing extra other than a CRT filter. Control customization is nonexistent, but that’s because the game is entirely mouse-controlled with the exception of just a couple keyboard controls (although those can also be done with the mouse). It would have been nice to see some additional improvements there, like the ability to advance dialogue by pressing space or enter.
Despite some minor shortcomings, Loop Hero is a solid all-around experience. It has some incredibly addicting core gameplay, with ample doses of strategy, RNG, and roguelike mechanics on top of that. It’s the kind of game you can easily dump dozens upon dozens of hours into, and you can really get into it if you go the completionist route. Still, it could really use some additional speedup options – maybe that’s something that can be patched in.
Quote: Loop Hero is a solid all-around experience with a surprising amount of depth. It has some incredibly addicting core gameplay, with ample doses of strategy, RNG, and roguelike mechanics on top of that.
You can buy Loop Hero on Steam here. The game is also available through GOG.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.