We tried one of the first independent sensations of this this 2021, an original, groundbreaking game and a challenge for the coldest minds
One of the greatness of the video game is its ability to surprise through its design. What on paper seems simple and even bland, with the right set of rules, incentives and obstacles, can become a fascinating entertainment experience and capable of capturing you as much or more than the latest blockbuster with the best graphics. And no, this is not contempt for great productions, we are fortunate to live in an environment in which the conventional and lavish can coexist fluidly and successfully with the different and extravagant. In variety is the taste, and for the video game fan this is a palpable truth.
And if something has Loop Hero, it is that, to be different. A unique idea, on paper too simple, that ends up becoming something extraordinary as a result of a tiny seed of which there were doubts that it could become such a remarkable game. Let’s think about the approach coldly, on paper: a game in 2021 that uses a palette of reduced colors in the style of the ten EGA cards, whose approach is to see how a hero walks along an always different circular path and on a single screen, without direct control over him or his actions beyond changing his equipment. What is said does not sound exciting, it seems even more like one of those “idle” games, incremental and passive, like AdVenture Capitalist in which the main objective is to see how the numbers go up without having to be very aware.
Although the texts of the captures are in English, the game is translated into Spanish
Much more than meets the eye
But under that minimalist approach much more hides. It is true that we start with a hero and a path surrounded by darkness, but as we defeat the few remaining slimes, we acquire cards with sections of the world as we remembered it: mountains, forests, towns, swamps, cemeteries, ruins and many other locations that we can place on the map to fill in the desolate space. Adding these pieces will have effects, bonuses and penalties on our character and will also add an increasing number of monsters on the circuit that will also get stronger each time a cycle is completed. It is a component of “card game”, which brings more strategic layers to the whole.
And so, although we do not have a direct role in the movement or combat of the hero, we do determine his abilities thanks to the combination of objects with which we can equip him, while we are configuring his world in a way in which we can reach a marked density limit, at which point a final boss will appear that we will have to defeat to advance in the story. Given the large number of cards and equipment, the breadth of the range of statistics that we can increase and the presence of various classes for our hero, together with the fact that there are factors that we cannot control when positioning enemies on the way, they end up turning Loop Heroes in a frenetic puzzle with the logic of a cRPG condensing to its purest expression: equip yourself to survive, survive to level up, level up to overcome greater challenges.
The layers of complexity follow one by one in a natural and even surprising way. The same story is intriguing. A world devastated, plunged in darkness and a hero who remembers nothing but a Liche and a black hole devouring everything he knew, a cryptic beginning, appropriate, for a game that hides many of his ideas from the view of the player and It forces him to experiment, taking advantage of some simple mechanics that free the player from being too focused on the immediate and allows him to have an overview, but without getting lost. Shortly after moving forward we will find another of the main columns of the design, some survivors with which to build a small town. In this world not only everything that existed has disappeared, but also the memories related to it; everything is unstable, even being itself. The few who have survived live terrified of resting and forgetting their own existence to disappear without a trace, but the hero turns the tables. While it is true that when he rests the world that he has formed around him also disappears, it is also true that the town built with the scraps he brings from his expeditions remains. He is the only one who can leave the place without fear of disappearing and the link on which the survivors can have a small ray of hope to return to have a life and a world as they knew it.
This is the screen that you will spend hours looking at
Balance? where we go we don’t need “balance”
In terms of the game, the town offers bonuses and permanent improvements as we build and improve buildings. It will fill a part of our life bar when we pass according to the crops we have planted, it will allow us to exchange between some of the three classes that we will have available before each expedition (Warrior, which is the initial one, Rogue and Necromancer), it will allow us obtain a variety of bonuses, additional damage against types of monsters and small advantages such as watchtowers that will help us when we fight enemies near the base. The range of structures is wide and admits improvements, although for both cases enough resources are required that can only be obtained in expeditions. And this is where another key factor of the game comes in, its risk / reward component. When we hit the road, depending on how we are building the world and the enemies we defeat, we will obtain those resources, of higher quality as we complete laps. But if we die we can only keep 30% of them and if we withdraw before reaching the camp we can only get 60, so we will always be asking ourselves the question: should I stop now and get a good amount of resources? Or do I risk another turn to get more and better?
Added to that is another aspect that Loop Hero jealously guards from the gamer’s eyes until we’re already hooked and it’s too late: it’s surprisingly difficult. Once we finish with the first boss, the difficulty rises above what we could suspect. The difference in difficulty between one lap and the next, depending on how you’ve set up the world, can quickly jump between manageable and certain death, which is coupled with the “gratifying” feeling of having thrown half an hour in the garbage of the Rogue’s school games. This difficulty comes because, above all, Loop Hero is a game of synergies in your favor and against you, for which the only person responsible is yourself.
The combat is fully automatic, you better be prepared
To understand. We have already mentioned that the enemies we will fight depend on what we build. If we build a nest of spiders, we will have located an area in which we will fight spiders. If we build swamps, we will have mosquitoes and if we build forests, we will have wolf-rats. Pretty simple. Some of these creatures can move beyond the area in question, but in a limited way, so we will always know more or less where to place them along the way. Those areas and enemies will give us specific resources that we will need to continue building our town, and they are parts that we will have to place if we want the boss to appear and have the opportunity to advance. So far everything is clear. But if we also build mountains around the path, we will also obtain resources and a welcome bonus to life, but at the same time we will facilitate the appearance of gargoyles, harpies and goblins, which can appear anywhere on the map, including in the areas where we have placed spiders, mosquitoes, and wolf-rats. By joining different creatures not only does it force us to fight against more enemies, it also leaves us exposed to possible synergies between their abilities, since as we progress through chapters, we will discover that those wolf-rats that seemed so little at the beginning of the game have several abilities that can give you more of a scare, especially combined with the ability to stun or lower the defenses of others.
And here comes one of Loop Hero’s greatest balancing games. If we add many elements to the path at once, we will obtain more but we will run the risk of making our lives impossible. If we choose to be overly conservative with what we install, we will never get enough world density to face the boss and continue the game. And if we try to be too progressive in the way we sprout forests and mountains, we run the risk that the enemies will get too strong and we will not have a chance to reach the camp (because, remember, the enemies will get stronger and stronger. depending on the lap we are in, and the difference between those level increases will become more evident depending on the chapter in the story in which we are).
Your base of operations will act as a nexus and resting place
In addition, there are all kinds of beneficial and harmful combinations that we must discover through experimentation. For example, the settlements will give us life and give us a mission, turning ordinary enemies into more powerful versions of themselves, which will allow us to obtain a reward and an extra experience when we defeat him. Putting many settlements may seem like a good idea, but meeting too many improved versions of common enemies, sharing space with other monsters, can undermine our life bar. If we decide to put a vampire mansion next to the town, we will turn it into a vampire fiefdom and we will have to deal with a vampire and four ghouls when we pass by, an always complicated drink. Why are we going to do that then? Because if we manage to complete that encounter three times, we will have a vampire county in place, a place of balance in which the vampire and mortals establish a symbiotic relationship, which for the hero implies winning. much more life and get better rewards. Experimentation, risk and reward, the main bases on which the game published by Devolver moves
This also applies to the protagonist and the constant amount of equipment that we will find. Depending on the rarity of the piece, it will have different bonuses, and how to combine those bonuses will be the way in which we build the ephemeral “build” of the hero. The warrior is designed to last longer in battle and take advantage of his ability to become stronger as time passes in it, but how do we make him resistant? We can bet on raising your defense to reduce the damage received, your evasion to avoid blows or your ability to make counterattacks to turn the defense into a good attack; but we can also increase its regeneration capacity or give it vampiric conditions to gain life with each hit. The answer? It will depend on the pieces that fall on you, although they will always be enough to have to choose and feel that you are actively building the hero, even if you do not have direct control of their actions. Rarely will you feel that you have not been able to build a viable character and yes that you have not known how to choose well between the available options or you have built a world that has escaped your hands.
It had to be from Russia since such a different game came to us, meticulous and merciless in its design. The excellent music and distinctive art have a nostalgic touch that will be familiar to those of us who have been playing PC for many years, but at the heart of Loop Hero is its brilliant mechanics and the coldness with which it kicks our butts every time it hits us. we neglect ourselves. At the price at which it has gone on the market (about € 14.99) for the amount of content and hours of entertainment that it offers us, it seems like a desirable option for this 2021. FourQuarters Team and Devolver have given us one of the first independent sensations of the year, a title that oozes originality, with an intriguing story and a magnificent approach that will steal our hours like a thief at midnight, without realizing it.
- A unique and magnificent design
- The number of small pieces and the possibilities of combining them
- An audiovisual aspect full of personality
- A game full of surprises, plots and mechanics
- We are always wanting “one more lap”
- There are times when we wish there was a speed even faster than x2
- It’s a bit too cryptic in its mechanics at times
A game with a remarkable finish that we will enjoy and remember. A good buy, highly recommended for lovers of the genre. It is well cared for at all levels.