Loopmancer Review

Unprecedented wealth diversification, cybernetic humans blurring the lines between robots and sapiens, corporations and government agencies working together towards their own interests: all themes that have become fashionable over the past few years in gaming. In short, the cyberpunk genre is more popular than ever. Loopmancer, developed by eBrain Studios, jumps into the fold as a 2D action platformer that combines the grit and dystopia of cyberpunk worlds with roguelite elements to create a thrilling game full of twists, turns, and lots of violence. Loopmancer is a great game, offering one of the most visually compelling indies this year. It’s full of heart-pounding battle sequences and a mysterious detective storyline that makes for an exciting cyberpunk noir narrative. However, its roguelite elements often feel disjointed to the game and tend to create more friction than fun in an overall solid package. The year is 2046 and humanity has evolved into its next phase of technological advancements. Breakthroughs in nano-biotechnology have advanced medicine to new heights, citizens are walking the streets with bionic prosthetics, and new breeds of criminals are emerging after such technology. At the center of Loopmancer’s story is Xiang Zixu, a troubled private eye still reeling from the death of his daughter and the disappearance of his wife. In the midst of grief, Zixu is tasked with finding a missing journalist who may be related to the underworld of Dragon City. Quickly, Zixu unravels a conspiracy that could bring Dragon City to its knees. Loopmancer Key Art Zixu is shot and killed while chasing Wei Long, a high-ranking boss of the LongXi Gang who may have the answers Zixu is looking for and may also be the key to his wife’s disappearance. After falling to the dead, Zixu wakes up the same day he died, remembering everything that happened and being stuck in an endless loop until he finds a way to break it. Using his knowledge of past events, Zixu must make critical choices throughout his journey that could have dire consequences for each character involved. Loopmancer’s cyberpunk noir atmosphere is thick and immersive, serving as more than a simple framing device for the game’s loop-based mechanics. Although very B-movie in its execution and character development, Loopmancer still manages to hit the right story beats to keep players interested in what comes next. Every layer that Zixu peels back only raises more questions for the audience and takes some unexpected twists. The branching storylines at the center of the narrative are not as complex and interweaving as they could be; however, it still offers enough incentive for players to come back and experience multiple endings as the story goes to new areas depending on the player’s choices. This is a pulp fiction mystery that must be followed from beginning to end. Visually, Loopmancer looks great and serves as an impressive showcase for Unreal Engine 4’s graphical prowess even in 2022. The game’s first mission is striking as it contrasts with the flashy, neon-soaked background of Dragon City with its monochrome and crumbling foreground. criminal underworld. However, Loopmancer doesn’t stay too long on the streets of Dragon City, which is a surprise in a genre that leans heavily on its urban environments. ZIxu fights in dilapidated rural lands, corporate buildings, ninja training grounds, and even dabbles in the supernatural at some points. Each level is unique and offers a new look, an important element to get right in a game that heavily emphasizes repetition and seeing the same level multiple times. While the plot is solid and its graphical presentation is good, Loopmancer lacks in its voice acting and localization. Zixu and the accompanying characters seem uninspired in their dialogue delivery, and their lines often sound flat. Localization could also use some work as intel caches, and subtitles are often difficult to read. Loopmancer base Loopmancer’s biggest strength is its combat, which always feels fluid and heavy. Combat works best when players mix and match the tools in their arsenal, alternating between melee, ranged, and special attacks, with the game encouraging this style of play thanks in a list of challenges for different zones. These challenges reward players with more money and upgrade materials so they can be put to better use should they fail and have to do another loop. Zixu’s selection of weapons is vast, from katanas to bats to auto-turrets and drones. Players will discover many weapons as they invest coins in weapon stations in each level, unlocking better weapons for a higher chance of survival. While Zixu and his combat animations look great, the enemies in Loopmancer lack the same level of polish. Enemies often slide along the ground in a way that doesn’t match their walking animation speed, and they look unfinished in their current state. Additionally, some enemies have issues with the stagger mechanics. Low-ranking LongXi Gang members tend to stagger, stay there, and get hit until they die. In most cases, Zixu only finds a challenge when there are a lot of enemies, or in boss fights where the game forces players to reconsider the speed of their combat. Overall, however, Loopmancer’s action feels fantastic and is the driving force behind the experience. RELATED: ‘Half’ of Callisto Protocol’s Combat Will Be Melee According to Developer Loopmancer is another entry in the 2D action-adventure roguelite genre. Every time Zixu dies, his loadout resets, only taking upgrade materials and a reserve currency to give him an edge on the next run. Each loop changes the composition of each level, but only slightly. Players will see close to the full extent of each level after the first five runs, and the changes are so minimal that they sometimes feel unnecessary. Many roguelikes may lean towards a procedural generation system that offers a unique experience with each run or a static but challenging level design that forces players to master each mission. Loopmancer doesn’t go in either direction, and its level design feels mediocre in its execution for a game that requires repeated level runs. Its per-loop level changes are mostly shallow, occasionally sprinkling a simple puzzle, and it feels like a linear level design was first there with the studio reworking it with roguelite mechanics. Loopmancer's platforming All in all, Loopmancer has some issues with its execution of roguelike gameplay, and it occasionally detracts from a great package. An important part of roguelike games is their ability to make each run rewarding and unique despite being frustrating and repetitive. It’s a very carefully crafted system that almost absurdly tricks players into having a good time despite the fact that they routinely fail. Loopmancer struggles to make every loop rewarding because its roguelite progression really only starts in the endgame. The first half of Loopmancer provides upgrade materials and low-level weapons at a slow pace before the rewards increase in the second half with legendaries and mountains of upgrade Cores. As a result, eBrain creates an uneven experience where players can feel like their wheels are spinning in the first two missions for a few hours before the mechanic picks up and they can rush through the second half when pretty fast. There could have been a better way to let players find and acquire quality weapons and Cores earlier in the game to make for a more balanced roguelite experience. As it stands, Loopmancer’s drip-feed early game progression makes the game feel tedious and boring at times. RELATED: Mortal Kombat 12 Should Feature Roguelike Game Mode Furthermore, Loopmancer loads its dialogue and cutscene sequences at the start of each run, making getting back into the action a slog. An option to skip dialogue exists, but it still requires running through two full areas, loading screens, and clicking through several menus before players can return to combat. Loopmancer’s attempt to mix roguelite mechanics with a compelling, dialogue-rich story is a novel concept but makes new loops a chore through extended play sessions. Traversal is another sore spot for the Loopmancer. The levels feature some rudimentary platforming sections that fail when the game wants to be more mechanically rigorous. That means its wall-jumping mechanics aren’t as crisp as the rest of the movement suite. Players will find themselves struggling with the controls in sections that require precise timing and spatial awareness in some areas. Wall-jumping isn’t something the game regularly calls for, but it’s a pain to put up with when it happens. Loopmancer Boss Fight Mostly, Loopmancer presents itself as a game struggling with an identity crisis. On the one hand, there’s a solid 2D action-adventure game with enough wit and tight combat to be an engaging and tight experience. On the other hand, there’s a roguelite game that struggles to find balance in its execution of the genre and ends up making its gameplay loop unnecessarily tedious and occasionally dull. Where Loopmancer steps up is in its gritty story, frantic action, and striking aesthetic. Otherwise, eBrain’s debut title needs some thought into its rogue-like premise to create a better balanced game. Loopmancer is now available for PC. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review. MORE: From Rogue to Returnal: How Games Like Hades and Spelunky 2 Prove Fans Are Not Sick of Roguelikes

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