When I saw that Loop Hero was coming to the Nintendo Switch, I wondered how good of a transition it would make. Whilst there was no doubting that the looping-gameplay would prove just as satisfying on Nintendo’s platform, the reliance on mouse and keyboard controls on PC did seem like something that could make it a little bit more fiddly to play on console.
Fortunately, the team at Four Quarters have done a more than adequate job of making Loop Hero work on the Nintendo Switch, with it easily standing out as one of the most addictive and unique roguelikes I’ve played in some time.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Loop Hero puts players in a world that has been eerily eradicated by the Lich, a mighty dead mage that brought destruction and despair across the land. He did leave something behind though: a looping path that constantly comes back on itself. You’re put in the role of a hero who must follow that path, all whilst defeating the many monsters that plague it as you try to gather the resources required to re-build the world. If you fail? You get to go again, albeit this time with an all-new looping path to follow. How’s that for procedural generation?
Reading that back, it might not sound like that satisfying of a gameplay loop, especially since you don’t actually control your character’s movements but instead follow them along and only really manage your resources and place different tiles across the map. Despite this, everything about Loop Hero is incredibly addictive, with it proving satisfying to place tiles around to enhance the world and improve your chances of success, or, in some cases, bring more threats to take down. I know, I know, more threats might sound like a bad idea, but the nastier the monster, the better the reward…
Your character will enter battles along the loop which will reward you with cards and resources if victorious, with these cards allowing you to place different structures and landscapes across the world. Some of these are simple, such as Mountains to surround the loop that give the player enhancements, whilst others might bring more enemies to the loop, such as the Cemetery that will spawn a skeleton every three days. Placing specific tiles next to others will often boost their effects too, whilst other times they’ll transform them into whole new objects that bring with them completely different enhancements. There’s plenty of room for experimentation in the game, with surprises aplenty as you try out all-new combinations.
“Everything about Loop Hero is incredibly addictive, with it proving satisfying to place tiles around to enhance the world and improve your chances of success, or, in some cases, bring more threats to take down.”
It adds a strategic aspect to the game where you essentially have to try and manage the land, with the placement of individual tiles proving significant in your success. It takes some clever planning and a lot of tinkering to perfect, and honestly, it’ll probably take players a good few runs before they get a real sense of shape and structure to their surroundings. When things do begin to work out though? It can be really satisfying and gives the player some ambitious goals to work towards.
Alongside the land cards, players will also find equipment that can be used to strengthen their character’s stats in varying ways, ensuring they’re that bit tougher for when more difficult situations arise in the loop. Whilst Loop Hero might sound easy enough to play on paper (especially since you don’t actually interact within battles), the enemies can be incredibly tough and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed. Being ill-prepared for battle as the loops go on will end in defeat on a VERY regular basis, with each of the game’s four chapters getting tougher and tougher as you go on.
Fortunately, there are ways to make life easier for yourself. Players gather additional resources as they go on their adventure which can be taken back to their base when ending a run, with said resources then used to unlock additional upgrades, new character classes, special abilities, and the chance to use new cards. Heading back to the base and making some upgrades was actually one of the most rewarding aspects of Loop Hero for me, especially since it made subsequent playthroughs all the more easier. Having an upgraded Cemetery would allow you to revive once during a run, for example, whilst the War Camp gives a permanent boost to your character’s strength. It’s things like this that make a hell of a lot of difference in the tougher later chapters of the game, though also having access to new cards, equipment, or cool classes like the Necromancer and Rogue is a real treat too.
“With a good variety of enemies and cards to use (as well as the thrill of simply going on runs around the loop) though, there’s more than enough here to keep players entertained for hours on end.”
There is an element of risk-and-reward when heading back to your base: do you head back early and ensure that you take all the resources you’ve gathered, or do you risk another loop around the map to try and earn more? There were countless times where my greed got the better of me and I suffered as a consequence, but the longer you play, the more luxurious the rewards… when it pays off, it can make a heck of a difference to your final loot count. Ending a loop means starting all over again with a blank canvas of a map to work with though, which can be a little disheartening after investing a lot of effort in. It makes that ‘one more run’ feel all the more appealing. It all adds to the thrill of the experience and helped make Loop Hero enthralling to play. On the flip-side, some of the better upgrades can take a long time to unlock, which could be a little bit of a shame – whilst I don’t mind EARNING my rewards, it could make the process of doing so feel a little bit more repetitive than it needed to be.
It is also worth noting that you’ll be doing a lot of the same things on a regular basis in the game. I’ve spent close to twenty hours going through loop after loop now, with some runs constantly feeling the same as I worked towards additional upgrades for my base. It’s not a bad thing, especially since it’s a hallmark of the roguelike genre anyway, but Loop Hero’s strategy-over-action approach might leave some players feeling a little bored of its repetitive nature. Personally, I loved it and still find myself coming back for more now, but it might not be for everyone – especially since most of your interactions will be spent simply placing tiles and making decisions. With a good variety of enemies and cards to use (as well as the thrill of simply going on runs around the loop) though, there’s more than enough here to keep players entertained for hours on end.
Oh, and before you worry about it, you can pause the game when you’re deciding where to place tiles. Whilst there’s a lot of tricky decision-making to be done in the game, Loop Hero never pressures the player, ensuring that it remains accessible despite its heavy focus on strategic play.
“Thankfully, it’s easy enough to switch between each aspect of the HUD on the Nintendo Switch, whilst placing tiles is intuitive and simple too.”
One of the earlier points I mentioned was that Loop Hero is played with a mouse and keyboard on PC, with it a menu-heavy game with a lot of resource management. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to switch between each aspect of the HUD on the Nintendo Switch, whilst placing tiles is intuitive and simple too. Don’t get me wrong, it will take a bit of getting used to early on and it’s not as easy as using a mouse, but there was nothing problematic or frustrating about the controls. There are touch screen controls available too, which makes a heck of a difference playing handheld.
Visually, Loop Hero looks decent enough, though it’s a far way from being the prettiest game I’ve played. There’s plenty of old-school 8-bit pixel art on show that does fit the style of gameplay and also reminded me a lot of the older strategy-style games I played back in the day, but I do prefer pixel art with a bit more detail and vibrancy. But hey, that’s just me, and there’s no denying that Loop Hero’s aesthetic manages to capture the vibe of the forlorn world perfectly.
Loop Hero Review
Loop Hero is an addictively unique roguelike experience that blends together strategy, base-building, and battling in a mighty fun way. I got completely hooked into its satisfying loop quite quickly, whilst gathering resources, improving your home base, and progressing that bit further through the adventure each time never stopped feeling rewarding. It’s just an expertly crafted game that balances out all aspects of its gameplay sublimely.
It can be a little bit guilty of being repetitive in places (especially when working towards some upgrades) and there’s no doubting that it won’t be for everyone, but those who give Loop Hero a try will quickly find that its one of the more creative and enjoyable roguelikes out there. Being able to play it on the go on the Nintendo Switch is a REAL treat.
Developer: Four Quarters
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC