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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Yooreka Studio
Developer: eBrain Studio
Release Date: July 13, 2022


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Loopmancer'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 21, 2022 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Loopmancer is a 3D horizontal roguelite action game with realistic graphics that takes place in a cyberpunk universe.

Loopmancer opens with your protagonist, Xiang Zixu, being dishonorably dispatched by a wave of gunfire while he investigates the disappearance of a reporter. His death ends with him awakening in his apartment, and he quickly discovers two important facts. One: He's living the same day he "dreamed" before. Two: Any death brings him back to the start of that day. Combining these two facts allows Xiang Zixu the chance to solve a mystery that threatens the safety of the cyberpunk future world of Dragon City.

The core combat in Loopmancer feels nice and peppy. It's a 2D action-brawler, so you have a lot of flexibility in the basics. You have a lineup of weapons: melee, ranged, a "tactical" item like a bomb, a special skill that uses your bionic arm to smash foes, and plenty more. You can use all of your abilities and attacks in a single fluid series of motions, so you can instantly melee down one dangerous foe and then blow away the foe behind them with a shotgun blast.

The key to success is managing resources. You have limited ammunition and supplies, so it's important that you decide when and where to shoot your gun or throw a bomb. Your special skills have a lengthy cooldown, so using them at the wrong time could leave you flailing with your melee weapon of choice. There are ways to restore ammo throughout the stages but no unlimited refills. You need to decide if it is worth grabbing ammo now or saving it for later, when you may be in more dire need.

As in any good roguelike, you have a ton of different options. Melee weapons can range from your bare (robot) fists to katanas or golf clubs equipped with teleporters. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and they even have special killer moves that you can unlock by defeating a lot of enemies without taking damage. There are pistols and shotguns for ranged weapons, or various elemental (e.g., fire, lightning) super-punches for special skills. Some begin unlocked, while others must be unlocked over the course of a game.

Loopmancer is fully adopting the incremental progress feature in a lot of modern roguelike titles. When you die, you lose all your progress and weapons and return to the start of the loop. However, you remember everything that happened and can use that information to change the plot by choosing different paths. You can also invest cores into new abilities or outfits for your character. You lose all your money if you die (unless you buy certain upgrades), but anything you've unlocked during a run remains unlocked, so you have more chances to get cool weapons later on.

The basic loop (pun fully intended) in Loopmancer is satisfying. I'm not clear how the final version will add up, but the preview build feels like it has the makings of a very enjoyable roguelike action game. The combat feels smooth and fluid, and death feels like the next step in the journey instead of a defeat condition. I look forward to seeing how the final version of Loopmancer pans out when it hits the PC and consoles later this year.

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