Indie game ‘Loop Hero’ has become one of the biggest unexpected hits of 2021: this is how its heroic infinite journey works

We are experiencing a boom in indie games so far in 2021 as we have experienced few times before. And most importantly: they are taking space away from the AAA, taking advantage of the fact that they are in a moment of impasse and have not yet begun to arrive big titles of the new consoles . The exclusives of Playstation 5 have not landed, Xbox is focusing on strengthening its Game Pass catalog and Switch games, exclusive and for its public, sell and support the platform , but their impact does not leave the field limited to Nintendo hardware.

To this is added, perhaps, that the last big launch of last year, ‘ Cyberpunk 2077’, turned out to be a fiasco in terms of communication and prestige for these types of games , regardless of their authentic values. Titles whose development lasts for years , which promise to be revolutionary and which, for whatever reasons, in the eyes of the public in the end come to nothing (or are the pasture of memes). And to all that is added, of course, the pandemic: after a year (at least) without events or fairs, the video game machinery (which still has not stopped as dry as other entertainment sectors) is finding it difficult to recover rhythm.

That is what has made the last months of 2020 and first of 2021 we have talked about ‘ Valheim ‘, about ‘ Rust ‘, about ‘ Hades ‘, as last year we talked about ‘ Among Us ‘ and ‘ Fall Guys ‘. Very modest games of intentions (and often aesthetic), to which word of mouth or, why not say it, their own and numerous virtues, turn into successes .

That is not to say that the Triple A’s have been wiped off the map. There they continue, bringing together millions of players, titles such as the latest installments of eternal franchises: ‘Battlefield’, ‘Call of Duty’, ‘Star Wars’ or the eternal and unbeatable ‘Fortnite’. But there is a clear trend: the public is more than willing to attend to small games, with much more restrained ambitions , but that end up rubbing shoulders with the bigger ones. And now it’s the turn of ‘Loop Hero’.

Spectacular metrics
‘Loop Hero’ has broken a few records for the number of players. For example, it has been perched at the top of the Steam Database Trending Games for a couple of days . At the time of this writing, around 40,000 simultaneous players . The number 2 on the list, ‘Forza Horizon 4’, with a whole Microsoft behind it, does not reach 20,000. This metric does not measure the number of concurrent players (at the top would be the million players of ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’), but the growth of the last seven days is valued, based on data such as concurrent players, yes , but also positive reviews and sales.

And yet, the number of concurrent players of ‘Loop Hero’ is not negligible : more than 50,000 is his record to date, and at this moment he is at number 17 on the list , surrounded by giants that multiply by twenty his player figures. And much more spectacular are its weekly sales on Steam : already in its week of release, ‘Loop Hero’ was placed in second place, below only (significantly) another indie hit, ‘Valheim’, which has not moved from that place the whole last month. And Devolver, producer of the game, has announced that they have already sold more than 500,000 games.

That is to say, a complete success for a modest and not especially commercial project. At the end of the day, ‘Valheim’, being a rough game and that does not forgive the player for his mistakes, follows the codes of Triple A adventure games, although its indie nature makes it take more risks. But the achievements of ‘Loop Hero’ are especially remarkable considering that the very process of learning to play is not easy at all .

The first surprise with the mechanics of ‘Loop Hero’ comes with its development: the movements and combats are developed automatically. The Hero of the Loop of the title walks through an infinite environment generated randomly , and facing monsters. These monsters provide cards and equipment with which to build a deck, and it is these supplies that allow the player to progress in the adventure.

Each card is a map element that can be added to the loop. You can create mountains, forests … and also enemy creation points , which makes everything complicated, in exchange for greater rewards. Aim? Gain more and more elements that allow us to face the next loop with guarantees of survival. In other words, a mix of card decks, roguelite and rolazo.

And that’s it? Essentially yes, but there are dozens of nuances and strategies to follow: buildings can be built that help us progress, such as kitchens that allow us to heal better before the next loop. Or create new classes, in a decidedly role-playing touch that allows you to advance a little more on the next lap , as befits a good roguelike : each time, a little more and a little more. And a key to sting the player: the randomness of the rewards.

And to justify all this, a simple argument that plays with the memories of the protagonist. In reality, our hero is not building, but remembering, and with each new loop he will have to remember from scratch, but starting from what the player already knows, in a complicated meta-resource that will make your ears ring in the first games. And that the characters and dialogues, cryptic and enigmatic will not help to alleviate … but there is the charm of the game.

This is a new somersault in the indie scene, which is injecting mechanics of considerable complexity and arguments that play in depth with the interactivity and possibilities of the medium … and achieving successes like never before seen. The arrival of ‘Loop Hero’ to the highest positions of the sales charts is more than a blow to the Russian studio Four Quarters. It is proof that the industry still has room to grow and evolve apart from the big blockbusters.

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