Loop Hero review
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Loop Hero review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on May 2nd, 2024
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TARNISHED BY TIME
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In the loops of time since release, this novel dungeon-crawler has lost some shine.

Developer: FourQuarters Team

Price: Free
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

I have some complicated feelings about Loop Hero. I remember is as one of the big games culture phenoms under the height of COVID (along with Among Us), and it is an enjoyable upgrade treadmill that is fun as long as its systems are playing nicely together. Sometimes they aren't, as there are a ton of disparate things at play in the game, but the fact that any of it works is rather impressive, and even moreso seeing it tied so well together by its surprisingly cool art and worldbuilding. On iOS, you'd think it's kind of the perfect game to dink around with, and it is fully capable of sucking you in, but I'm not sure it has aged all that well since its initial release.

Loot loop

In the event that you haven't played Loop Hero, some explanation for how it works is required. This game borrows from a lot of other places, but as far as I know there aren't really games like it. You play as a hero who is trying to build up some semblance of civilization at the end of the world, and you do this by going on adventures where your character automatically moves around a track to fight monsters, secure supplies, level up, and find gear that will help you fight even more powerful monsters.

Your role as the player controlling this revolves somewhat around switching up gear to make your hero as strong as possible, but the main focus is actually on building up the land features on and around the track (via cards) to try and make things as hard as possible while still being able to survive so you can score the most chances at getting powerful loot to take down and end boss for big resource rewards and some story payoff.

Repeating randomness

As you advance in Loop Hero, you build up a village in between runs and the structures you build grant bonuses, add new cards to play with, and even unlock additional classes with their own gear and special combat abilities. The core of what you do in each subsequent run remains largely the same, though: kill, loot, die/retreat, repeat.

There are times where this formula is totally engrossing. It can be incredibly satisfying to happen upon a build that lets your hero go the distance to fell a boss or find special items like trophies to tip your battlefield builds in certain directions. There are plenty of other times, though, where things like this simply do not come together, and either you die or you retreat just to venture out again and see if things shake out better next time. As a game that you could basically let idle in the background of your PC while you do other things, this is mostly fine, but in other formats, not so much.

Meager on mobile

Speaking of format, this mobile version of Loop Hero is serviceable, though some of its ideas to make it more mobile-friendly are a bit odd. Perhaps the nicest thing about this port is that Loop Hero has flawless iCloud sync, allowing you to continue progress between devices, or even tie up a device to allow for some idle play if you so choose.

Beyond that, Loop Hero has added some options to try and make its smallish visuals a bit more readable, but it's all via an awkward magifying feature that didn't quite feel right in all of the configurations offered. Luckily, I found it easy enough to see and read everything on screen when playing on my iPad, though on my phone it was a little more difficult, to the point that I considered turning on high-resolution fonts on the game. I didn't, though, because it kind of ruins the aesthetic of Loop Hero, which I may have only mentioned in the intro but it's cool as hell and goes a long way to make its idle/looping gameplay more appealing.

The bottom line

Loop Hero hasn't suddenly turned into a different game in the years since its release, but you can also see why there haven't been any splashy games like it since. At times, the game feels like lightning in a bottle. At others, it gives the feel of countless other games that are just random systems slurries. When you could play it somewhat idly (and when folks had a lot more idle time), I imagine it felt more magical than it does now playing on a device where you have to face its imperfections head on.

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