Loop Hero hands-on preview: Live, die, repeat

Loop Hero looks to take the deck-building/strategy genre and turn it on its head.

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Loop Hero is an upcoming game from developer Four Quarters, the team that previously brought you Please Don’t Touch Anything. In Four Quarters, players will live through the same loop over and over, as the environment and hazards change every day. However, there’s a bit of a catch. As the player, you’ll be in charge of determining just how difficult the road ahead will be, by placing additional hazards and enemies with cards gathered during your journey. I got to play a preview version of Loop Hero on Steam thanks to the publisher, Devolver Digital.

Forge your destiny

In Loop Hero, players are given a pretty standard circular map that they will traverse every day. A bar in the HUD indicates the progress of the day, telling players when a new cycle has begun. This is significant because each day sees new monsters, loot, and gear spawn. What’s fascinating, is that players will decide what troubles they will face each loop, by placing cards in the world.

As you adventure, you’ll get cards with different terrain or hazards attached. For example, the spider cocoon card allowed me to place a spider’s nest on the map, spawning 8-legged freaks for me to fight each day. Defeating these creatures rewarded me with items and weapons that I could equip to my character, as well as more cards. There’s also cards that provide bonuses, such as rocks and mountains that give a small daily boost to HP. 

When to say when

The real catch here is that the game forces you to balance how much you take on with each loop. As you acquire more and more cards, it’s easy to just throw them all on the map, as more monsters = more loot. However, it’s quite easy to bite off more than you can chew. Suddenly, the simple trail back to your base is a gauntlet of powerful monsters and creatures. Since combat is hands-off, you’ll have to properly strategize what you decide to put on your plate. This also includes knowing when to call it quits.

Each “run” in Loop Hero is called an Expedition. When you loop back to the starting point, the campfire, players can opt to call it quits there, or continue on for another loop. Ending your run means you get to take your gathered resources and items back to camp, but you could be leaving even better gear on the table. It’s this mechanic that makes Loop Hero feel like a roguelite in disguise.

When you’re not on an expedition, you can build and expand your camp, adding new rooms that provide you with statistical bonuses. Players will use the resources they gained while exploring to add facilities and upgrade them. However, when you decide to break and return to camp, everything on your loop will be wiped, for better or worse. When you set out on your next expedition, you’ll have to practically start from scratch.

Right back where we started from

With all of the fascinating gameplay elements at work in Loop Hero, it’s easy to forget about the overarching story featured. Loop Hero sees players in a world stuck in an endless time loop, thanks to an evil Lich. It’s the players job to ultimately defeat the Lich and restore peace and balance to the world. While the gameplay may be my biggest takeaway from my time with Loop Hero, I was really fascinated with the world-building being done here. The characters you meet, as well as the protagonist, are quite interesting people that I wanted to learn more about. 

I was also really taken by the visuals in Loop Hero. The game shoots for a retro art style, and nails it right on the head. The pixelated character and creature sprites harken back to a classic era, and the full artworks are bursting with color and detail. The sound design also helps to establish that classic feel, as the music and audio effects feel like they were plucked right out of a game from the 16-bit era. I would’ve believed Loop Hero was a game that came out decades ago, had I not already known otherwise.

We go again

Loop Hero is shaping up to be a truly fresh take on deck-building/strategy games. With so many ways to play, along with the time loop motif, it’s hard to not see this game as a roguelite. Developer Four Quarters could potentially have something quite special on its hands with Loop Hero. The full game is scheduled to launch at some point in 2021, you can currently wishlist it on Steam.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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