Loop8: Summer of Gods - PS4 Review

Loop8: Summer of Gods by developer Marvelous and publisher XSEED GamesPS4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 9 minut
Have you ever been doing something and thought "hey, haven't I done this before"? Have you had this feeling of Deja Vu for an entire month? Have you also felt like you've been fighting evil spirits that want to destroy the world? Well, Loop8: Summer of Gods will give you that feeling, for better and for worse.

In Loop8 you control the character "Nini", a boy who has come down to the Japanese town of Ashihara in the 1980s. In this alternate version of the world, creatures called Kegai have been running rampant across the world. Thankfully, the town of Ashihara has seen a distinct lack of Kegai activity. Well, it's lucky that Nini's been forced to show up, as the Kegai are beginning to stir in Ashihara.

Loop8 takes a very interesting stance on gameplay, having a sort of persona-esque vibe, just more of a focus on the social networking, less on the turn-based fighting. Well, let's start at the top and you'll see how things go. After you're new roommate and distant relative gets you situated and registered at the local highschool, you'll start having free time after the tutorial has run its course. During your free time you can explore the town, interact with other characters, and increase your stats. Normally I like to start broader and then get into some of the specifics, but today we're doing the opposite!

First let's talk about interactions with other characters. All the characters you can interact with have three different social values: Friendship, Affection, and Hate. Whenever you interact with someone, there are a number of options to choose from depending on their social stats. For instance, if you build enough friendship or affection with someone, you can ask them to hang out. In addition, every character will have their own mood and feeling, which will affect the success rate of your interactions. The general area you're in will also have a general mood depending on who is there at the time and their moods.

As you can probably guess, failing at an interaction usually increases hate and reduces friendship or affection. What I haven't mentioned yet is that interacting with other characters require health and stamina from Nini. As you move about the town and interact with people, your health and stamina will decrease. If it runs too low, or it gets too late in the day, you'll need to return to your room and sleep, starting the new day. Yup, that's right, it's one of those timed things. On the plus side, you can get a lot done in a day, as well as increase your health and stamina through your character stats (not the social ones).

Your character stats include such examples as Strength, Agility, and Divine Power. These determine battle effectiveness as well as increases in health and stamina. Your character stats can be improved either by interacting with specific locations around town and spending an hour and a half of in-game time or certain interactions with characters will increase both of your stats. An important note here is that even characters that won't necessarily fight alongside you still have status values. Pro tip, if you invite a character to walk around with you, they enter your party and you can check if they have any battle skills, which is a good way to check if you can have them fight with you in the combat segments.

So then, here's a question before we get into the combat type elements. Why is the game called Loop8? Well, anytime you either lose or make a request to a certain character, you will repeat the game from the beginning of August, continuing to loop until you reach an ending. Each time you do though, your stats and relationships will get reset, with two caveats. The first is blessings. As you meet certain criteria, you and your friends will earn blessings from the Gods. These blessings will permanently increase your stats between loops, giving you a higher starting value. The second is that your stats will increase at twice the rate until they reach their previous value, making future loops progressively easier as you increase your stats faster.

Alright, so now that we talked about what the bulk of the game involves, let's talk a bit about the combat portions. Basically, the world will end because an evil spirit possesses someone in town after a day or two. You have a 5 day countdown after beating a boss where that new evil spirit possesses someone. In order to start the foray into the world of the dead where the kegai reside, you actually need to figure out who is possessed and probably talk to them a few times. A portal then appears at the shrine, and you and up to two other members can venture forth to defeat the Kegai. This is where your affinity with other characters comes in, as you need a certain level of friendship and affection in order to ask others to fight with you.

Exploring the realm of the kegai is a little different than exploring the town. There are barriers around the mirror town you find yourself in, requiring magatama to unlock. You can interact with orbs in the mirror world and there are status checks to see if you get a magatama. Get enough for the barrier you want to unlock,, and you can challenge the boss. Alternatively you can talk to the shadow beings walking around to get some info on why the person who's being possessed is possessed to begin with. Or you could get into a fight.

Combat is...an interesting affair. Your party members will take action on their own initiative, while you can actually select what type of move you make yourself. You can attack with any of your social stats: Friendship, Affection, or Hate, which will have different impacts on the enemies, and bosses. If you attack with too much hate, or let it build too much from the boss, the bosses can increase in strength. Attacking with affection will lower this, but hate tends to be a stronger value, so use that wisely. In battle any moves you make will generally require stamina, except the option to restore stamina. If you get too low you will need to recover it. So you also have a health gauge, but you need to be careful. If Nini loses all his health, it's game over, and if your teammates lose all their health? They die. Like, OG Fire Emblem, they're gone for good.

Now, here is where I have to make the obligatory statement that I have no idea behind the exact mechanics of what determines the difficulty of a boss. They're also kind of randomized. For example, the first boss I fought during my first non-tutorial loop was the last one, before the final boss, during my first successful completion of the game. Now, for whatever reason, the second boss on my first loop, and the third last on my first success, were the hardest. Disgustingly so. That's where I learned your party members can permanently die. But I soloed the last three bosses no problem? Even the last boss was a bit of a pushover compared to that one specific one? It's probably related to your social stats, but I still don't fully understand just how the mechanics work. Maybe that's some science I can do later though.

Loop8 has a pretty wide variety of characters, all with  their own personalities and quirks, and it's really neat to see them all interacting with each other. That being said, you'll see that a lot, as each subsequent loop means you need to watch the same scenes over and over again while building up characters Friendship and Affection. To add to this, time passes really fast. Like, one in-game minute is one second in real time. While you'll generally be given a lot of time to deal with all the characters and increase your stats accordingly, the speed at which time moves, even in the mirror world, can seem quite pressuring.

Another bit of complaint I have is that there is a lot that is...rather under explained. While a bunch you can get from hints dropped by the divine flying squirrel that gives you your blessings, there's a certain amount of info that would've been really helpful to know a lot earlier than when I figured it out on my own. There's no real "check in here for different tips" deal either, so you have to basically just hope any non-blessing squirrel will give you actually helpful tips instead of random trivia.

Overall, I had a really good time with Loop8, despite some of the absolutely frustrating moments it gave me. I like the breadth of characters each with their own unique events, the backstories are generally either really relatable or make you feel for the characters. Well, at least some of them, yeah? The slow walking speed, the recurring scenes you have to go through every loop, and the necessity to build up relationships and stats again can feel quite off-putting at first, but it was nice to find out it just becomes easier the more loops you do.

Loop8: Summer of Gods is a rather rough game. It has some issues with pacing due to the looping nature of the game. Combat feels a bit like a slog to get through half the time, and frustrations can arise if you screw something up and find out you need to start a new loop because you aren't happy with the outcome. That being said, Loop8 is one of the most uniquely endearing games I've played in quite a while. Honestly, what you get out of Loop8 is roughly what you put into it. If you're shallow on your relationships, the game feels shallow, whereas if you ignore personal improvements, combat can become difficult. It's a very interesting JRPG take on balancing a personal and social life, more or less.

Score: 7.5 / 10



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