Loop Hero is a wonderful new RPG about overcoming despair


Illustration for the article titled Loop Hero is a wonderful new RPG about overcoming despair

Picture: Four rooms

Loop hero There are many things: an RPG, a roguelite, a self-fighter, a card game, a city builder, an evocative visual novel. It is also excellent and I can’t stop playing it.

Developed by Four Quarters (creator of the brilliant 2015 behavioral experiment Please don’t touch anything) and today on Steam, the appropriate title Loop hero sees you guide a warrior along a circular path as they battle various creatures, collect upgrades, and obtain crafting resources. Plagued by memory loss, you are trying to rebuild a world thrown into chaos by an evil lich. Each Random Circuit Expedition helps you unlock more and accumulate more materials to rebuild a village, whose survivors, in turn, give you more bonuses the next time you venture out into the void. It sounds simple and repetitive, and on a very basic level it is, but it is extremely satisfying and full of interesting exchanges to navigate. There is also a twist: you are the one who decides how each new loop will take shape.

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Each loop starts out as a lonely path shrouded in darkness, but as time passes, you can build it up in your own personal hell.
Screenshot: Four rooms / Kotaku

Enemies you fight drop cards. These are placed on the map to add new locations as if you were playing a traditional city builder, except instead of trying to create a thriving community, the goal is to create a dungeon that maximizes the upgrades and resources that you can earn without killing. completely. you. You can play cards like mountains and meadows to increase your health and collect crafting materials, while an aristocratic mansion will summon vampires for you to fight. The tougher the monsters, the better the rewards, until you’ve finally built your loop enough to summon the boss. You can fight him to progress through the story and unlock the next loop or retreat to your village with the things you have already earned.

Either way, everything you’ve earned in the current cycle outside of crafting supplies will disappear. Being forced to start over each cycle may sound like a drag, but in my experience it is liberating, allowing me to experiment with new strategies and correct past mistakes. Progress is fickle. Sometimes it happens in fits and starts. Sometimes it is completely erased. In Loop hero This means slowly backing away to death only to furiously bounce back after getting lucky with a powerful new item or timely leveling up which unlocks a new ability that perfectly synergizes with your existing loadout.

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While progress resets from scratch each cycle, your settlement remains intact and continues to grow as you play.
Screenshot: Four rooms / Kotaku

It’s all in one piece with Loop heroIt is the larger story about humanity trying to recover from oblivion. No one in the game is sure what is happening, how many times it has happened before or how many times it will happen again. Time can seem like a flat circle in many games where you spend much of your time completing variations on the same tasks over and over again. In Loop hero it feels especially evocative.

An ominous chiptune soundtrack imbues its minimal, pixelated world with bleak but whimsical energy. The music picks up and starts playing when you reach the end of each race, but then resets during narrative interludes as your amnesiac protagonist tries to figure out what’s going on as the all-consuming darkness threatens to erase meaning and existence. “Eternity will turn you to dust, and I’m just a little cog in that process,” the lich tells you at one point. I’ve felt this way with a lot of loot-based games, but not Loop hero.

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Loop hero you know that influence alone can’t pay the bills.
Screenshot: Four rooms / Kotaku

While Loop hero is an apocalyptic game, it is as much about rebuilding in the face of depression and despair as it is about surviving. Rather than just trying to make the numbers go up, or shredding the necessary loot for even better loot, I’m eager to enlist in this war against the abyss to help your characters come out of their cosmic malaise. Ultimately, there may not be a deep philosophical treatise on nihilism hidden in the circle, but as we turn the curve on the first anniversary of the pandemic, I have already found Loop heroThe description of discreet people struggling to overcome their boredom and despair affects him surprisingly.

After playing for several hours, I have only beaten the third boss. I’m looking forward to seeing it through to the end though, both to find out what new combinations of cards and abilities I can use to survive the cycle, and to see if the conclusion of Loop heroThe story lives up to the intriguing mysteries it presents at the beginning.

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