Roguelites are starting to become a bit more popular in recent years, especially with the dominant rise of Hades. Unfortunately, since completing the dungeon crawler, I have always struggled to find something that competes, or rather, can give me the same sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally reached the end. When Loop Hero burst onto the scene earlier in the year, I was put off by the simplistic graphics, thinking that it was just another game trying to succeed off the hype. Oh, how wrong I was.
“Loop Hero mixes roguelite and RPG mechanics together to create an amalgamation of two genres.”
Loop Hero begins with nothing but a black screen. The entire universe has been destroyed, and you are but a spec in existence. You play as a nameless hero, destined to help others who also manage to occupy the world and restore it to its former glory. There is a lot of action in Loop Hero, although, none of it is controlled by the player.
Loop Hero mixes roguelite and RPG mechanics together to create an amalgamation of two genres. Being an auto-battler, the premise of the game is simple. You must navigate a randomly generated loop of tiles and enemies. As you defeat enemies, you receive tiles, equipable items, and resources. Tiles are used to build upon the loop, adding effects and unique enemies to keep your loop interesting. After a certain amount of tiles are placed, a boss spawns, and you will have to fight for your life or lose most of the stuff you have collected.
“There are three playable classes in Loop Hero; Warrior, Rogue, and a Necromancer.”
If you die or decide to exfil and keep your resources, you will return to the town to spend what you earned. You must use your resources to build new buildings for the town like the Smithy, Herbalist’s Hut and Smelter. In doing so, you will unlock new classes, cards, and benefits. The benefits can be a health increase, special traits, resurrection and many more. This section is pretty standard in most roguelite games, but it’s still a welcome addition nonetheless.
There are three playable classes in Loop Hero; Warrior, Rogue, and a Necromancer. Each character has its own pros and cons, forcing you to play and build each character differently. The Warrior is the default class; the one you start the game with. They are arguably my favourite character, and possibly the easiest as they are well balanced. The Rogue plays a little differently and instead of receiving equipment after each kill, they receive a soul, and once you make a full loop, you are given various items equivalent to how many enemies you killed. This class is a bit more aggressive as it requires dual-wielding swords rather than a sword and shield.
The Necromancer is the final class and arguably the most unique. It summons skeletons that fight alongside you in battle, which is definitely the most interesting way to play. Every class feels unique, and forces you to play each loop in a different way; constantly keeping it fresh.
“The bosses, themselves, are challenging, and add a much-needed element of strategy to the game.”
Loop Hero contains deck-building elements. Therefore, you must pick the tiles you want to bring into each run. Placing tiles changes the way each loop is played, and some tiles even change when placed next to other tiles, so it’s up to you to find out what works best for you. For example, placing Mountains and Rocks together creates a Mountain Peak, which increases max health but spawns a harpy that flies down to the battlefield. Some tiles can add bonuses to battles and others add stronger enemies that can offer better rewards when defeated. It was always fun to work out what worked and what didn’t, even if it didn’t always result in a positive outcome.
Bosses play a big role in the game as well. Once the boss gauge in the top left reaches its fill, a boss will spawn. This fills by placing tiles, and you can even use “Oblivion” tiles to remove other tiles and reduce the gauge’s progression. The bosses, themselves, are challenging, and add a much-needed element of strategy to the game. Instead of placing tiles everywhere, you must carefully consider what tiles you need and why you need them. Otherwise, that extra Rock tile could be your demise.
“Loop Hero is easily one of the must-play games of 2021.”
While the narrative feels like it’s been pushed to the side, Loop Hero‘s gameplay is what makes it so successful. You play through the loop, collect resources, use resources to build, and repeat. It’s simple yet undeniably addicting. With around 30 hours of gameplay, Loop Hero is also incredibly cheap. There is plenty of replayability once the story is finished as you can always strive to reach the highest possible loop.
Loop Hero is made for the Nintendo Switch, and due to the game’s simpler design, it runs like a dream. While it is already a game of the year contender, the ability to play it portably only reaffirms this. This is easily one of the must-play games of 2021.
Loop Hero is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, code was provided by the Publisher.