Developer Four Quarters and publisher Devolver Digital present Loop Hero for review. Loop Hero is a single-player RPG that melds idle gameplay with roguelite elements. The player emerges in a dark and empty world after an unknown calamity erases most of existence. Only one path is available to tread, and as the player encounters new enemies they may find the resources needed to rebuild what was destroyed.
Loop Hero is a largely passive experience played out in excursions. Each excursion follows the protagonist, which starts as a generic fighter with the ability to change classes as they auto-battle enemies on a set path where the only way is forward. Combat is not controlled by the player, and the only way to affect the outcome is to utilize different environmental pieces and monster generators to strengthen the protagonist during that loops’ excursion. After placing enough items the protagonist must fight that section’s boss and, if they fail, returns to their home base with only a fraction of their loot. Whether all or some of the loot is retained, the player uses it to build up a new village safe from the nothingness which provides more placement tiles during excursions.
Truly awful videogames often reach a point where they dare me not to play them. Loop Hero makes the unusual step beyond awful by making most of the gameplay experience actually not playing it. This doesn’t bring Loop Hero into a realm of high quality or “so bad it’s good” gameplay. Instead it just exists, almost like an existential wager against my mortality, lightly taunting what precious time I have left on this planet with just another loop.
Put another way, Loop Hero‘s passivity does not enrich my mortality with its existence. In fact, I can think of a number of browser games which cost nothing (outside my precious time left) and offer more meaningful or engaging experiences. I watch my protagonist loop in their window, fighting monsters, and I accumulate cards. When I first played I paused Loop Hero constantly to play these cards to boost my perpetually traveling protagonist. Then my attention wandered and there was one excursion where I straight-up forgot I was playing Loop Hero. My protagonist was still on the road, still killing monsters, and life continued on.
The question central to this bland experience isn’t a satisfactory one. Why bother playing a game which doesn’t much care if I’m playing it at all? Even the better idle games require some degree of attention toward their existence. I think of A Dark Room‘s eventual excursions or Universal Paperclip‘s all-encompassing need for total assimilation. I watch the loop, standard RPG dialogue interjects to describe relationships which don’t matter in a setting that will disappear once my protagonist takes its eyes off of it.
There is, however, one engaging reason to play Loop Hero, and that’s the sprite work for its characters. While none of them might have had much of interest to say, there’s an uneasiness to the way many of the denizens are seen. The blacksmith’s beard comes to a too-fine point, the vampires look like they immigrated from Kelley Jones’ drawing board, and wooden soldiers look eerily familiar enough to make me wonder if the protagonist is really seeing them or not. That’s not enough of a reason to keep playing Loop Hero, but I appreciated having a bit of visual intrigue to spruce up yet another go-around.
Loop Hero was reviewed using a reviewer-purchased code on the PC using the Steam platform.
I'm tempted to write that Loop Hero sucks but that implies there's enough meat on the bone to develop a taste for its gameplay. It doesn't even offer a poor memory. Instead it exists to be ignored, to sit idle while asking so little of your time that it's a wonder it bothers to exist at all.
- Excellent sprite work gives Loop Hero a unique edge.
- Demands so little of the player you may safely ignore the game for nearly twenty minutes, even on later maps, to no detriment.
- Offers nothing outside the art which isn't already available for gamers with ready access to an internet broswer.
Prognosis is Fair