The ascetics of Loop8: Summer of Gods are exactly what I want in a game, but trailers alone don’t do it any justice. The beautiful game highlights giant steps forward regarding anime graphics in video games. However, the game world sticks closely to systems of the past as its environments are small areas separated by loading screens. Luckily, this game has so much potential that I couldn’t help but be charmed by its presentation and game flow. Still, a lot needs to be addressed here before its launch.
I was able to play a demo of Loop8, which included a short mission and boss battle. The mission at hand required me to look at the characters in my party and decide which would be best to bring to the dark realm to fight the boss. This is determined by how the boss feels about each character, separated by Friend, Affection, and Hate. For example, if they have a lot of hate for a character, it’s probably best not to include them in your party because they will take more damage. Of course, this will vary across playthroughs since these feelings can change depending on the player’s actions.
In this case, my party of three included Beni and Saru. I was required to find Saru and enlist him in my party, where we headed to the Underworld to take on some baddies. As you move through the portal, the environment changes to an eerie ghostly dungeon. There are battles that players can grind out in these areas for added experience, but you can also interact with orbs, which provide keys to unlock the path to the boss.
Battles are pretty unique as players only control the main protagonist Nini. He’s a capable fighter who strategizes actions using Foresight to check out his party members’ plans. Then he can choose an action and tie it to one of the three emotions, with hate causing more damage but increasing the boss’s power as a result. It’s a very strange system, as other actions in the Underworld can alter the boss’s strength.
The battle flow is flashy, but from what I played, it’s incredibly dull. I’m unsure if I was overpowered for the sake of the demo, but I only had one skill for Nini unlocked, which I just spammed until the boss was dead. This had me sit through lengthy action animations for each party member, which didn’t cause much damage. I used Foresight before every move, but I couldn’t really understand what actions my other party members would take based on what they were saying.
However, I do think there’s some potential here. Nini needs more skills, and the player needs a clear understanding of what the emotion tied to the attack will do to the boss since Friend and Affection seem like the same thing. Further, the battle strategy should be a system within the game where you can direct your party member’s actions; having them just make their own choices resulted in a few turns for buffs that weren’t required and just extended the battle.
One of the coolest systems is defeating the boss or letting them live. I’m unsure why this is a choice, but these bosses are some of your classmates. In the case of Kukunochi, I saved her but had I killed her, the following week, the other characters would be mourning her death, and she would be removed from the story. So I’m hoping to find myself torn on whether or not to save these characters when playing through the full game.
Another in-game system that could use some adjusting is the framerate, which is noticeably choppy. Battles and running around the field show Nini almost jittering across the screen. The load time was also really long, but this issue could be because I was playing the Switch version that hadn’t been optimized.
Outside of performance, Nini needs a sprint button because his on-screen movement is way too slow. Further, the battle animation should be able to be skipped or shortened because watching the same animation over and over only padded the already lengthy boss fight.
Despite these issues, I feel Loop8: Summer of Gods has the presentation and gameplay systems required to deliver a unique JRPG experience. Its characters are each charming, and the battle system has some really cool mechanics, including the option to save or destroy the bosses. However, this game needs optimization, and I hope it gets it before launch because I’m eager to see how this adventure plays out.
Loop8: Summer of Gods is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on June 6, 2023.
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