Loop Hero Preview
While it’s tempting to lapse into platitudes about books, covers, and the judging of said things, the sentiment holds true in this case. Which case? That of Loop Hero! Like so many Devolver Digital releases, this one executed a flawless sneak attack. Despite looking like a grimy relic from a lost era, Loop Hero has sunk its claws deep in my flesh. Who knew that walking in a circle could be so compelling, so engaging?
To be fair, walking in a circle isn’t all you’re doing. You also defeat monsters, acquire loot, shape the world around you, and restore the universe from the endless cosmic void. The story, as I understand it, follows a single knight on their way to bring back the world. It’s all darkness, you see, until you start remembering things. Then the villages, forests, mountains, and monsters all return, piece by piece. While you’re not doing the fighting yourself, you are building the world around your hero. And that’s where things get really good.
The Architect of Your Own Demise
You see, you’re slowly approaching a battle with the big bad who’s responsible for all this. As such, the hero will be stronger or weaker depending on what he encounters beforehand. This is something I discovered without even meaning to – once my tiny world got dense enough with towns and terrain, he appeared. He then proceeded to crush me like a bug. That was enough to draw me in completely – now I had a goal. At first it seemed impossible, but every successive expedition unearthed a new element to engage with.
Dying in battle means you only take a bit of treasure back to the camp. But if you choose to retreat, you keep a little more. If you do so at your campfire, you keep absolutely everything. Suddenly a plan began to take shape. Soon I was expanding my home base, unlocking new perks, meeting new people, and getting stronger. Such is the hook within Loop Hero. Whether it’s strategies or supplies, you’re always bringing something back. Plus, the ability to duck out at any time, limited resources in hand, means you’re free to experiment however you wish. Tile placement, battle strategy, and gear combinations all reward your curiosity. Who knows what new detail you’ll uncover this time around?
The graphics do an excellent job, in that they feel terribly bleak at times. This is a grim, cruel little world, with washed out colors and somber details. You really feel that sense of oppression and doom. Even so, this isn’t enough to keep me away for long. Buried under the muck is a polished, glittering core. The music provides a suitable enhancement of the overall aesthetic, though it doesn’t stand out so far. For all its complexity, the controls are both simple and intuitive. You can play the whole thing with your mouse alone, if you’re so inclined.
Once More Around The Bend
And now, for the elephant in the room. Loop Hero is a roguelike, after all, and there’s no way to fully escape that mantle. On the other hand, this is a rare gem of a roguelike so far. Every run feels like it means something, and the difficulty balance is on point. You’ll have a tough time, but a reasonable sort of tough. But more than that, it’s awfully addictive. Every new run is a chance to try something different. Which tiles should you place, which stats should you focus on, and what goals are you working towards? I never felt like I was wasting my time, I always had the sense that something was being built. There are even multiple classes to play around with, a system I’ve barely scratched the surface of.
I understand having doubts about Loop Hero. The presentation is a tightrope walk between unassuming and downright menacing. The core gameplay appears to be simple and flat. All of this is wrong. This game will eat your free time with glistening fangs. The endless systems fall into place like layers of armor, building a formidable warrior who cannot be stopped. My only true grievance is the nebulous release date. I want everyone else to play this as soon as possible. The moment you get your hands on this game, you’ll understand why.
***A Steam key was provided by the publisher***