Loop Hero review: The game is the hero, you’re just the DM

Loop Hero is a method video game that’s likewise an interesting meditation on parenting. The video game takes the focus far from managing the hero straight; rather, it’s your job to craft their environment, weapons, and capabilities to get them all set for the roadway ahead. You can’t do it for them, however you can enhance their possibilities of success.

The video game drops you into a confounding setup. The world has actually ended, and nobody rather understands or remembers what occurred, or why. An only hero is stuck taking a trip in a loop, however you don’t play as them; they run entirely on auto-pilot, combating each beast they come across, till either they pass away or you direct them to pull away to camp to protect their gathered resources. Each loop they finish will recover a portion of the damage they’ve taken, and the power of their opponents and the loot they drop likewise boosts with every loop.

Loop Hero inverts what you’re utilized to focusing on in a video game. Your hero and the fights they’re participating in? You have no control over that, a minimum of not straight; all you can do is arrange their loadout. On the other hand, the world itself? You develop it. It’s somebody else’s job to make it through in it.

I never ever felt a direct kinship with my hero; I thought about them as somebody else entirely, and it was my job to prepare them for the fights ahead by supporting them with much better products and recovery, while not taking it too simple on them in regards to opponent positioning and environment. This is the obstacle I typically have a hard time with as a moms and dad: I desire my kids to feel safe and supported, however I don’t wish to eliminate many obstacles that they wilt at the very first significant test of their abilities or capabilities.

The hero is going to win or lose based upon the environment you’ve developed for them, and whether it’s developed all right to assist the hero grow and grow.

Your world, your weapons, not your battle

Things start merely initially, with your hero starting the loop and handling a couple of low-level beasties. Ruining the wicked animals that survive on the loop makes you equipment for the hero, in addition to surface or structures that can be put on the board to develop a sort of map. The world cards are set out at the bottom of the screen, with your equipment on the right, under your active loadout.

A created world in Loop Hero

Image: 4 Quarters/Devolver Digital

You develop your world utilizing the cards, and every one implies something various for your hero. Putting mountains raises your optimum struck points, for instance. Each meadow tile you place earns you two struck points back at the end of each in-game day, which cycle past pretty rapidly. Those are the good cards. You also have to put cards that will spawn more enemies in the loop, but crucially, you can decide where you place those cards and how near they are to other cards. Once you put enough squares on the board, the boss appears.

Create enough of one kind of environment in an area by linking many of the same cards, and you may be surprised at how the world comes to life on its own. Putting 2 cards next to each other may make enemies even harder to kill, or you may find cards to put in a particular order so that the enemies being spawned have to fight both you and the environment.

Nothing exists in a vacuum; everything interacts with everything else. If you don’t place the squares with some kind of strategy in place, balancing the need to keep your hero healthy with the need to beef them up to be powerful enough to destroy the boss, you’re going to lose. Meanwhile, the hero is also collecting different materials throughout this process so you can level up your base camp, opening up more options for future runs.

You’ll also be earning gear as your hero fights to survive, and juggling your loadout is a constant, unending job. Learning about each magical effect takes experimentation, since Loop Hero explains very little. What will this ring with those stats do when paired with this shield? What even is “vampirism,” and could it be excellent in this context? You have to try different things and find out what works, much like parenting. Using trial and error to learn and figure things out is a great way to explore the world with your children, and it’s almost a mandatory skill to perfect your run in Loop Hero.

If you’re doing well, your automated hero will keep on their path and win their battles, as you keep swapping out their weapons and equipment for better loot.

If you do poorly? Well, you die, get sent back to camp, and lose a bunch of resources. But you always have a chance to take a deep breath, see if you can upgrade your camp, and head back into battle.

Respecting your time, and attention

Loop Hero has two gameplay states: adventure and planning. Your hero continues to move and fight during the adventure state. During the planning state, the hero pauses so you can consider your build and where to place your tiles. Switching between the two states takes a single button press. There are likewise toggles that can pause the game at the end of each loop, at the end of each battle, when hovering over units to learn more about them, or when hovering over items during battle.

It’s a game changer, giving you complete control to take as much or as little time on each decision as you would like, thereby removing the sense of urgency and time pressure that could make the game an overwhelming mess. Unfortunately, this part of the game is not like parenting, although there have been many times I’ve wished I could call a real-life timeout to figure out what to do next.

A look at the base-building portion of Loop Hero

You’ll also need to upgrade your camp if you want to keep progressing.
Image: Four Quarters/Devolver Digital

This isn’t an idle or clicker game where you can look away and let it play itself for long periods of time; you’re going to get crushed if you’re not constantly juggling the world tiles and your inventory. But with the right settings, the game will pause itself at times when your attention is likely needed, making it an easy experience to multitask and play at a glacial pace as you watch Netflix or juggle another activity. It’s designed to enthrall you when you can give it your time, and to dutifully wait for your return if you get pulled into something else.

While I was sometimes frustrated by the number of systems that Loop Hero doesn’t explain, I still never want to look up the game’s secrets. Trying something new, or trying to break out of potentially bad habits by placing tiles randomly, often brought about unexpected results. I’m used to feeling like an adventurer who bravely sets out to save the world, however I’ve never felt like the act of world creation itself was casting a spell, with each tile and overall strategy causing it to be either more or less effective at keeping my hero alive.

By placing the focus squarely on the need to craft a world and set of equipment that will give your autonomous hero the best chance of success, Loop Hero created one of my favorite metaphors for being a good parent. I want my hero to save the world, and I can’t do it for them, so I better figure out the best way to get them ready to handle it themselves when the time comes.

Loop Hero is out now on Linux, Mac, and Windows PC. The game was reviewed on Windows using a download code provided by Devolver Digital. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media might earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can discover extra info about Polygon’s principles policy here.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.