Loop Hero first released on PC back in March. Today, it’s finally out on Nintendo Switch. I remember hearing so many great things about Loop Hero, and how so many people were obsessed with it.
Loop Hero is a tactical deckbuilding roguelike. The world has been turned into a timeless loop, and you must learn how to maneuver it. Every day you walk through the same path, facing different enemies and items along your journey.
Even though you are playing through the same time loop over and over, it feels different each time. The path is procedurally generated at the start of each run. The cards you receive are used to spawn more enemies, gain new abilities and add new lands to the map.
I was given a code about a week ago from Devolver Digital to get some hours in before the release of Loop Hero on Nintendo Switch today.
Gimme the Loop. Gimme the Loop
After receiving my review code, I jumped straight into Loop Hero with no previous knowledge about the game. My mistake was first jumping into the game in handheld mode on my [Original] Nintendo Switch — the game works great in handheld mode, once you have an idea of what you’re doing.
There’s a lot of information all over the screen in Loop Hero, but once you get a better understanding of it all it makes more sense. It wasn’t until I finally played the game on my TV in the Switch dock that I started getting a better idea of what I was doing.
After playing a few rounds on the big screen I can now handle handheld mode, and it works great. I was able to study what’s going on in all areas of the screen. How to pause, control speed, change items and weapons, where to use certain cards. These are all things I became familiar with thanks to docked mode.
The gameplay in Loop Hero can be broken into three phases, although the first and third sort of roll into each other.
Phase I: Pre-Loop
Before beginning a round in Loop Hero (or after completing one) there is a lot you can do. First, you can expand your camp. By adding new areas to your camp you can gain new skills and advantages.
From here you may also build your deck. You can choose which cards to include and not to include in your deck for the next phase (The Loop). After defeating enemies in the game you may gain new cards. While some cards help you with abilities, others may spawn new enemies.
Something I’ve seen in a couple of roguelikes/lites lately is the addition of an “outside world.” A world outside of the normal grind and gameplay where you could level up, learn skills, and sometimes explore the lore.
Dreamscaper is a recent game where you continue playing through a loop like this, but outside of the loop there is a whole other narrative-focused game. Another title is Boyfriend Dungeon, where you have the “dungeon” (aka Loop) in the mall, but also this whole town to explore, full of people to date.
Phase II: The Loop
The Loop phase is the main gameplay phase in Loop Hero. This is where your character goes to battle in the endless loop (endless until death or you decide to go back to camp). This phase is the tactical phase where you make your way through the loop and defeat enemies. You collect cards, weapons, items and new loot along the way.
The gameplay sort of reminds me of games like Sid Meier’s Civilization series (which I’ve never played). Loop Hero makes me think of those games where you control a bunch of characters and send them off to automatically carry out their tasks. You’re basically just planning and getting your character ready to continue fighting different enemies.
In the Loop phase you can control the speed at which your character travels through the loop. A way to make time move a bit faster.
Another recent game that came to mind was Mini Motorways, where you’re directing traffic by building roads. Each level always begins slow and easy, so I would make time speed up. Once everything got too crazy, the game would end much quicker than if I had been playing at normal speed.
Phase III: Post-Loop
After being killed in a Loop phase you return to your base camp, going back to the pre-phase before starting another loop. You only get to keep a certain amount of materials and items found in the loop after death.
You may also go back to the camp at almost any moment during the Loop phase (except for mid-combat). Doing so should allow you to bring back all of your goodies.
The Post-Loop phase is like that in Deathloop and many other “Loop” games (Roguelikes/lites). It’s a time to assess the knowledge you’ve learned and certain items you’ve gained. From there you can decide how to use these to your advantage in your next attempt at the loop.
The Post-Loop phase then morphs back into the pre-loop phase and it’s time to start rearranging your deck and building your base up.
I’m a huge fan of Roguelikes, but what I really like is that it’s a genre full of many different types of games. I’m currently playing a few Roguelikes right now (Rogue Legacy, Spelunky 1 & 2, Deathloop). It always surprises me how developers keep finding ways to expand on certain genres.
Loop Hero has a lot going on, in the best way possible. I’m sure there’s even some things I haven’t figured out yet. Even though I love combat in games, I’m really enjoying worrying about planning the combat instead of the actual battle.
The deck-building component is also appreciated since you have to include both helpful and hurtful cards in your deck. While mountains and meadows will improve your overall health, Vampire houses and graveyards will bring new enemies to the battlefield.
If there was one thing I’d change about Loop Hero — and I’m not even sure this is really a problem — it would be the weapons and items. I don’t think that they receive damage, but there comes a point where I have mostly the best gear I can get at the moment — all equipped. I don’t want the weaker gear to go to waste though or my inventory to become full, so I end up using the crappy gear instead.
Perhaps the weapons and items take a bit longer than I expect to become damaged. I think that this would have been a nice addition to the game if it’s not in there, mainly because you pick up so many weapons, armor, rings and other items. I hate making them all go to waste.
Who’s it for?
I would say Loop Hero is for fans of roguelikes who are looking for a completely different experience from a roguelike. It’s also for Nintendo Switch owners who missed this game on the PC.
I’m really enjoying Loop Hero and can see myself playing this game for months and months. I can treat it like my other ongoing roguelikes, which I jump in and out of from time to time. Many of which I become obsessed with for long periods of time.
Loop Hero is now out on the Nintendo Switch. It was also released on PC back in March 2021.
* A review code for Loop Hero was provided for me by the publisher for the Nintendo Switch.