For my #6 game of 2021, it’s a title that came out near the beginning of the year, and I think a lot of people forgot about its release and impact.
#6 Loop Hero
Loop Hero is one of the most interesting takes on idle gameplay that I’ve seen yet. Combining the passive experience of an idle game, with the planning of a strategy game, combined with the run-by-run play of a roguelike. The game’s fairytale book pixel aesthetic gives it an extra layer of detail, along with the story of literally trying to repair the world after everything is destroyed.
Like Lobotomy Corporation, I love this idea of letting the player decide the difficulty through their choices. Here, every building, structure, or point of interest on the map you place, will change the difficulty and challenges that show up on a run. Think things are going too easy? Add a vampire castle and watch the nightmare unfold. Secret combos of different buildings can be used to change your strategy, and there is dealing with the act boss.
What stops it from breaking into the top 5 is that I had some issues with the design. The focus on the cards, or points of interest, you take, makes things a little too repetitive in my opinion. Your main form of progress is upgrading your hamlet to unlock permanent upgrades and new options, but it leads to the game being grindy. The RNG behind what equipment drops became a source of frustration due to your limited interaction with the world. I had runs that were very swingy — either snowballing into victory or failing because of it.
Like some of the games that are in the top 5, Loop Hero is a title that I suggest everyone check out for the sheer ingenuity of the design alone.