Loop Hero Game
Before we even get to its strangely hypnotic and single-player game, it needs to be stated this is actually the most excellently surreal apocalyptic dream setting since Dark Souls. Loop Hero's world is finishing; no one could remember things , so those things are disappearing. Even abstract notions like understanding and permanence are evaporating into the void. It is a delightfully unsettling, disorienting area where the pixel artwork portraits of the bad guys aren't certain what's going on.
Everything is forgotten except, obviously, your only protagonist , who walks into a circular route through the void, fighting creatures and -- crucially -- recalling things before returning back into a campfire to break. The conversations along with unlockable tidbits of lore are wonderfully meandering oddities.
The map is represented with charmingly simple pixel images for the loop itself, which starts as a featureless, angular path during the skies darkness. It is inhabited exclusively by a hero -- little more than a 4-bit blob of pixels -- and a handful of rebounding green bubbles representing fundamental slime blob enemies. The artwork in conflicts is more comprehensive, revealing 8-bit warriors slugging it out with basic attack animations, though like a 1990 RPG the sprites do not change with changes in weapon as enemies level up. The retro music's good, too, even if a few tracks play a bit too often for the few dozen hours Loop Hero will probably take you to play through.
In those first couple of minutes you will not do much, rather literally, as battles are hands-off. Once you're in a fight your fate is controlled by your and your enemies' Strike Speed, Defense, and harm stats, even with a flair of whether the percentage chance gods offer you longer Crits, Counters, and Evades than the other side. This goes for boss battles: it's very rigorously your stats vs theirs. the impossible quiz So for the very first couple of loops, well, it is a good time to meet with your water glass or grab some snacks in the kitchen.
But, together with the benefits that those tiles bring (mostly minor things like boosts to attack speed for woods or a town that occupies some HP when your hero passes through) come corresponding tradeoffs. Beasts occupy the woods, vampires come back by their lands, skeletons ramble the graveyards, fishmen emerge out of rivers, and even gargoyles fly and land nearly anywhere. I discovered the balancing act between incorporating useful tiles and not overpowering my hero with fresh enemies to become one of the greatest struggles in Loop Hero.
Seeing the map move from blank slate to overpowering collage is a rewarding sense of progression that somewhat makes up for the absence of customization in your personality. Nevertheless the muted palette isn't going to be to everyone's tastes, nor will be the chunky pixel font all the stats and text appear in. (Which you'll be able to alter, mercifully, to something easier on the eyes or dyslexic friendly.)
Each time the loop chooses your hero into the campfire you're able to retreat back into your camp with all of your accumulated resources (as opposed to your mid-loop retreat or death, which leaves you only a portion of your haul.) You build up the camp as time passes, including new buildings and people. This provides you the tiny incremental upgrades you want to progress and overcome the boss of every action. You may have a farmer's scythe to secure more food from the areas you pass, a silver necklace to reduce damage from vampires, or construct potion racks so you can bring more healing beside you on the trip. (Also, although the developers have promised a fix for this shortly, you cannot currently save your improvement mid-expedition -- quitting off and out puts you back into your town as though the run had never happened.)
Shockingly imaginative in its own fantasy fiction setup and addictive in its own mostly automated gameplay, Loop Hero is something interesting and new in the world of RPGs and it doesn't disappoint. It stops short of becoming revolutionary, however, and its reliance on a weary mill and boring stats is weak in comparison with roguelikes that highlight trying unique new builds over refining existing combos. This gives it a shorter lifespan compared to many of its contemporaries -- but there is nothing really like it.