Loop8: Summer of Gods Review – Maybe 3 Loops Were Enough

    Title: Loop8: Summer of Gods
    Developer: Marvelous
    Release Date: June 6, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: XSEED Games
    Genre: JRPG

A memorable JRPG story is defined by its foundation. If you don’t feel attached to the overall plot or the characters, there’s little reason to press on. Loop8: Summer of Gods has some unique ideas comprised of some great worldbuilding and a cast of characters pulled right out of a coming-of-age anime. However, it really fails to capitalize on this. Instead, we’re left with a confusing experience that really doesn’t become clear until after probably the 4th loop, which may be too much for players to stick with.

Loop8: Summer of Gods is anything but a traditional JRPG. It has all the appeal of a Persona-esque experience, but it takes a sharp left turn in its early moments. Players assume the role of Nini, who has newly arrived on Ashihara island after living most of his life in space. This strange little island is known for its peaceful way of living since the Kegai avoid it for reasons. These creatures are shrouded in mystery as you’re led around town by your cousin. However, peace won’t last long, as the threat of the Kegai finds its way past the barrier, which triggers the world’s end.

During moments of the narrative, you’ll be racing against the clock, which is always ticketing. As you navigate the town, talk to people, and take on side activities, time progresses. It creates some level of hecticness before you realize that there are some tricks to gameplay that makes things a bit easier. You see, the biggest gimmick of gameplay is that you can reset time back to when Nini arrived on the island, this also occurs if you die, but it works pretty much the same.

There’s a countdown of days until the end of the world. Within that time, you can talk to people around town and raise your stats, but your ultimate goal is to figure out who the Kegai have possessed, build up a team, and then travel to the underworld to fight them.

Loop8 Summer of Gods 1

As you could have guessed, there are a ton of very specific nuances to gameplay that make it less straightforward. For starters, all relationships reset after a loop, but you’re able to retain some stats thanks to Blessings from Musasa, this flying squirrel thing that becomes very annoying. Interacting with objects around town will summon Musasa to give you a bonus. You’re able to interact with objects each day, so returning, receiving a blessing, and moving on will be normal.

However, it’s also random, as sometimes Musasa doesn’t provide a bonus. This is just something you have to get used to doing if you want to begin a loop with buffs to your base stats and required to get through the entire game. Musasa also benefits other characters, who you have little to no other effect on. You’ll never actively control any other character besides Nini. Each character roams around town on their own, and even when they’re in your party, they’ll just mindlessly stroll about, sometimes triggering an event if they want attention.

Still, the more you interact with them, the more your relationship will improve, with the goal being to unlock new Events, battle options, and trust between characters. It’s almost impossible to give each character the same amount of attention over a single loop, so I just chose three, built their base stats through interactions and the help of Musasa, and didn’t have to suffer too much of a setback after I looped again. On the other hand, the troubled approach of simply trying to guess who the Kegai will possess may change those plans.

Loop8 Summer of Gods 5

Even though your actions affect the overall ending and some story scenes, you’ll be reading a lot of the same text over each loop. It’s sad because the game’s text doesn’t differentiate what you’ve seen versus new text. Visual novels have a common option where you can skip all read text, which would have worked wonders here. When interacting with a character, you’ll eventually be given options on how to spend your energy.

Getting to know a character is probably the most significant option to choose, but considering you’ll be on autopilot skipping through previously read text, you may accidentally click the first highlighted option, Nevermind, which has a negative effect on your relationship. This got me many times, but if you take it slow, the options let you know which have a good chance of working since it’s not guaranteed the character will even want to interact with you. Over time, you’ll unlock event scenes and new battle options.

Other stats you’ll need to pay attention to can be raised by interacting with objects around town. Such as pull-up bars increasing strength and arcade machines increasing skill. On top of Musasa’s Blessings, you’ll need these buffs to unlock new battle abilities and to pass skill checks that increase in later parts of the game.

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So, say you find out who is being affected by the Kegai, and the portal to the underworld opens. Sadly, there are no traditional dungeons. Instead, you’ll be walking around the same town, only a gloomy version of it. There are ghostly figures walking around that trigger a battle, but you don’t really have to interact with them. The dungeon itself gets a bit more challenging in the later parts of the game, but it doesn’t really instill any sense of excitement.

Characters will have relationships with each other that should be taken into consideration with you bring into the underworld to fight the boss Kegai. However, before anything, you need to make sure you understand the affected character, or else you won’t have the option to save them and will end up killing them. Yes, you typically have an option to either spare a character or kill them, but you won’t have that chance depending on what you did in the real world. It’s a system that isn’t explicitly detailed, but over the course of a few loops, you get the hang of it.

Loop8 Summer of Gods 7

The battle system is very strange. You have a party of three, but Nini is the only character you can control. It’s possible to try and see what actions your party members are going to use, but a straight attack approach is just as good as any. However, not even that is straightforward as you’d hope because each attack is tied to an emotion, and if you use Hate, you’ll risk raising the power of the boss.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, you have to plan who to bring into the underworld with you because you’ll want to make sure the characters in your party have a good relationship with the boss. Further, there are no straightforward ways to heal party members, and you’ll just have to hope that someone in your party can help out by providing Energy or other buffs. Following the fight, you’ll progress the day, and the gameloop will continue as you raise the relationships with your friends, find invading Kegai, and save the world.

Loop8 Summer of Gods 2

The overall narrative becomes exceptionally emotional in the later parts. However, the biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome is feeling close to any of these characters. Your first time through, the experience is confusing as you’re pretty much free to roam around and do whatever you want. You aren’t forced to interact with any of the characters, which makes things kind of weird if it’s your third week on the island, and a character is making their introduction.

Regardless, the impact of the character relationships evolves over the course of each loop. Sadly, Nini barely handles these situations properly, as he has the same conversations with characters each time but doesn’t seem to retain any of the information. I think the rules of the time reversal create some plot holes, but if you’re on your final loop and have everything in order, the pieces begin to connect in some rather unique ways.

Loop8 Summer of Gods 3

Aspects of gameplay need some quality-of-life adjustments. For starters, Nini is just too slow. I understand this may be due to the active time system, but give the boy a run option. Further, the map will tell you where a character is in town, but sometimes they are standing just out of the screen, so if you approach them, you’ll go to the next area. This is emphasized further when taking into account the many loading screens you’ll encounter between areas. Additionally, battle animations can’t be skipped, and the fights can drag on sometimes as you wait for the boss to finish a speech and attack repeatedly.

Still, the presentation and overall graphics are decent. The colorful animation and somber mood of the island really deliver this small-town narrative. I would have liked for there to be a bit more to do or see, but the lack of dungeons and additional areas make the entire experience feel small in scope, especially when the fate of the world is on the line. I should add the voice-over options for the English and Japanese are both viable choices to enjoy the experience. I played using both and found something to like about each option.

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Loop8: Summer of Gods is a gorgeous and ambitious JRPG that introduces unique elements to the genre but doesn’t know how to properly mix them to deliver a cohesive and memorable experience. The narrative gets insanely good, but I wish it didn’t take several loops to figure that out. Sadly, the limited quality-of-life features, strange battle system, and lack of character attachment make the entire experience more effort than it’s worth. However, if you look past that, you may find enjoyment in this one-of-a-kind JRPG that took some commendable chances on the genre.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.