App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Jesse Venbrux seems to have a thing for emulating Michael Brough games. 2020's Seven Scrolls was surprisingly novel given how well it worked with a lot of the same basic building blocks of Brough's Imbroglio and P1 Select, but that charm is all but lost on Loopy Wizard, a mini roguelike that not only tries to essentially pull off the same trick again, but does so in a way that feels much more derivative.
Loopy Wizard is yet another dungeon-crawler where you control a character by swiping to have them move around on a 5x5 grid. On this adventure, you are a wizard that can blast magic bolts at enemies from any distance, but you can also add special skills to an odd spellbook that forces you to cast them at set intervals according to a clock-like arrow that rotates around the spellbook's spell slots.
Your goal is to earn points by killing monsters and progressing as far through dungeons as possible before dying, which is much easier said than done given the game's quirky spell system. Although it might initially sound neat to pick up the ability to poison creatures, for example, you may run into situations where the only creature available to poison is yourself.
There are a few wrinkles to Loopy Wizard's structure and spellbook mechanics that make it a bit more nuanced and replayable than it might otherwise be. This includes things like level progression which reset many of your spells before moving on to the next set of challenging enemies and the ability to drag spells off of your spellbook to activate them off-schedule and remove them from your rotating inventory of powers.
This gives players some additional agency in terms of being able to form strategies for success as opposed to simply having to rely on the randomness of spell drops, while also creating a difficulty curve that prevents you from constantly depending on a particular loadout of abilities that seem to work well together.
Much like Seven Scrolls, a lot of the appeal of Loopy Wizard is in seeing how effective and wild certain combinations of powers can get while learning to use them to your advantage. The only problem here is a lot of the powers are repeats from the previous game and the circular spellbook isn't as compelling a gameplay hook as the "if/then" logic statements of Seven Scrolls.
It also doesn't help that Loopy Wizard is yet another very obvious riff on Brough's games. Even if it was the most successful and innovative approach to this kind of game (which--to be clear--it is not), producing two titles back-to-back that so closely resemble another creator's work doesn't feel like homage so much as it does imitation, and it would've been nice to at least see some more departures from Brough's specific game formula, even if it was just at the surface level (i.e. visual style).
The bottom line
Loopy Wizard is a neat little Brough-like roguelike, but it's not particularly innovative, nor do its new twists prove to be more compelling than those of the titles it's imitating. They are just different, and barely so. Depending on who you are, you could pick up Loopy Wizard and have a grand time. It's more single-screen dungeon-crawling with crude art and a wacky ability gimmick, and either you are happy with minor variations on that familiar formula or you ask for more. I'm sure at this point in the review you know where I stand.