Loop Hero

“grimly enchanting” – PC Gamer

IGF (Seumas McNally Grand Prize Finalist): https://igf.com/loop-hero

Website demo: https://loophero.com/

Gameplay video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9xl0K08UwE


Loop Hero centers around a brave hero embarking on a journey to rebuild his collapsed world. Stuck in a timeless loop, the hero regains silvers of his memory and advances on a harsh path to defeat the Lich that destroyed his world. This is a story of one’s solitary perseverance in a desolate world. Driven by a unique set of game mechanics revolving around mystical cards, Loop Hero enchants players in an endless RPG, push-your-luck rogue-like game.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyCPka34TQ4

The Elemental Tetrad


The game begins after the world’s demise, with a dialogue introduction that tells a tale of an evil lich obliterating reality and everything in it. The hero wakes up in a small campsite along a path and tries to restore the world. En voyage, he meets other survivors that assists him in restoring the world or desperate ones that attack him in despair.


Loop Hero is made of a beautifully intersecting set of game mechanics, of which includes:
Infinite Adventure: Select from unlockable character classes and deck cards before setting out on each expedition along a randomly generated loop path. No expedition is ever the same as the ones before it.
Strategics: Wield cards to place enemies, buildings, and terrain along each unique loop. Finding balance between the cards to increase the chances of survival is tricky and thrilling.
Looting: Strike down creatures, recover stronger loot to equip on the fly and unlock new perks along the way. Gain resources for the camp.
Expanding Camp: Turn resources into campsite upgrades and to reinforce the hero for the next loop.
Boss Fights: Overcome a series of unholy guardians over a grand saga to save the world and break the time loop of the Lich.

Adventure & Looting
Camp Building


In terms of graphics, Loop Hero may not be as visually appealing as anime-style games like Genshin Impact or adventure games like Red Dead Redemption 2. However, it has beautiful pixel art designs, crafted with very minute details that appeals to players that love rogue-like games. Additionally, it boasts an alluring playlist of OSTs, which corresponds to the different levels and sections of the gameplay. An example that immerses players in the gameplay is the menacing music played on encounter with boss monsters.

Battle Graphics


Loop Hero is a 2D game that doesn’t need to implement the complex graphics and rendering in 3D games. It also doesn’t employ a lot of physics like in some 2D games such as Angry Birds. As a single player game, it also doesn’t integrate multiplayer aspects or enable cooperation between players. However, the low memory, graphics and storage requirements allow it to be playable on most devices and reach out to a greater pool of players. The game is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux as well as Nintendo Switch.



The game has a clear goal – to defeat the Lich. The different aspects of the game builds towards this ultimate goal to defeat an overpowering adversary. The endless loop and camp expansion mechanics of the game reinforces each other (the loot gained from adventure upgrades camp while camp improvements help the character to survive longer in the adventure). As the adventurer gets stronger and stronger, the challenges posed by the monsters increases until the emergence of the final boss.


The looting aspect in the adventure creates a sense of excitement within the player, as the player has a good chance of obtaining extremely strong equipment from monster drops. The game is designed in a way such that if the player takes greater risks (by placing cards in a certain fashion to increase difficulty of monsters that appear), the player has a better chance of obtaining higher tier drops. Additionally, the randomness of cards received creates a thrill by making players adapt to the situation.


The game is designed from an apocalyptic point-of-view. The background is gloomy and the colour scheme is dull which creates a sense of foreboding. The art style fits that of a rogue-like game and effort is put in to make the interface look ancient. The mouse cursor is also changed to that of an iron gauntlet which helps to craft an immersive experience for the player. The atmosphere is reinforced with stimulating music and sound effects that give off a feeling of battle.


Action-wise, Loop Hero does an excellent job of enticing players to learn the game mechanics and strategies to defeat monsters in the game. The intuitive interface allows users to dive right into the game with little tutorial while encouraging players to experiment and try out different strategies. However as the game reaches the end stages, players have given reviews that it gets more and more difficult to overcome bosses, forcing players to end up relying on a fixed set of strategies of cards to defeat levels. This limits players’ range of actions to take, which could lead to players losing interest due to lack of creative stimulus.


Loop Hero balances the grind of the game even as an endless RPG genre of game. This makes it different from auto-RPG mobile games which are designed to be so tediously grindy that even when the combat is automated, the game is still a chore. The clever twist of map/card building mechanics and a fun settlement-building portion allowed me to spend an enjoyable time playing the game, rather than just grinding to progress. However, the game does get grindy towards the later parts which may frustrate players.


Overall a well-designed game with a unique take on the usual dungeon-crawler games. Highly recommended to try.


Baba Is You is a multiple award winner of 2018 IGF awards, bagging prizes for Best Student Game and Excellence in Design. The game revolves around manipulating “rules”—represented as movable tiles in the game —to help the character, Baba, to clear the level.

Gameplay Link:

BABA IS YOU = you are controlling Baba
FLAG IS WIN = if you touch flag, you win
WALL IS STOP = walls are impassable
ROCK IS PUSH = rocks can be pushed around

Each level comprises of various objects, characters, and movable word tiles. The word tiles generally fall into three categories:

  1. Nouns: that correspond to specific types of objects and obstacles on the field (such as Baba, the goal flag and walls)
  2. Verbs: “IS” and “HAS”
  3. Descriptors: tiles that determine the properties of these objects
    • “YOU” – which makes all instances of the object controllable by the player;
    • “WIN” to determine the winning object)

When three word tiles are aligned vertically or horizontally to form a valid syntax, they create a rule that governs how the object behaves and is enforced until the string is broken up.


#25 Lens of Novelty

BABA IS YOU’s mechanics are extremely novel. Most games rely on a fixed set of rules that are understandable to players, and players hone their skills and maneuver around the constraints of rules to achieve a goal. However, BABA IS YOU requires players to manipulate rules in order to win the game in an innovative way. For example, in Fig1 below, the player controls BABA (BABA IS YOU), and cannot pass through walls (WALL IS STOP). Touching the flag is the win condition (FLAG IS WIN), however, it is surrounded by water, and the player will die if it touches it (WATER IS SINK).

Some creative thinking is required for the player to realize that the descriptor tiles can be pushed around and end up in a configuration like in Fig2. Now, we see ROCK IS WIN, and Baba just needs to touch the rock to win instead of the flag. This level is just one of the 200+ levels available, with new rules thrown into the mix with familiar rules every subsequent levels. Hence, not only does the novelty not wear off easily, there’s still a good balance of novelty and familiarity every level.

Fig1. Rock is Push; Flag is Win
Fig2. Condition manipulated – now Rock is Win. Baba (you) touching the rock results in clearing the level.

#8 Lens of Problem Solving



Fig3 and Fig4 shows up just how many types of word tiles there are. The number of permutations of rulesets that can be generated is thus exponentially bigger. This allows for an almost infinite number of possibilities and solutions, which creates a high replayability and encourages players to problem-solve and experiment with different rulesets. For programmers & engineers, this game helps hone computational thinking and problem-solving skills well. Players must understand the implications of each word and rule set on the gameplay mechanics, which creates a unique challenge for them. This necessitates critical thinking and understanding of how the various words and rules interact with one another in an elegant way.

#71 Lens of Beauty

The game employs a minimalist art style, coupled with a simple user interface of the game. While this creates a clean and uncluttered UIUX, this is a double-edged sword because although the minimalist aesthetic allows players to focus on the gameplay mechanics, some may find it unappealing or too basic, limiting the game’s appeal to a broader audience. BABA IS YOU’s sound effects and music are effective enough in creating a sense of immersion without overwhelming the user with too much audio stimuli. Considering all of this, the game still won the Excellence in Design prize in IGF, which is a testament that beauty doesn’t have to be complicated.

#47 Lens of Punishment

While the game appears to be a casual 2D game that doesn’t seem too intense, there are finite states that the player can fall into that are dead ends, forcing the player to restart. Just like many games, the player has to restart the level when the player dies. But that’s not all, even “minor” things like when the player accidentally deconstructed the BABA IS YOU syntax in Fig5 causes him to immediately lose control of BABA, and is forced to restart the level. Imagine doing something like this after 20 carefully premeditated moves in the level and having to restart. There is a fair share of brutality in the game as some critical finite states cannot be reversed easily. This is exacerbated by players having to do things in a trial-and-error manner to find out how to advance in the game.


Elemental Tetrad


BABA IS YOU’s mechanics set it apart from other games. Players are encouraged to break and bend the rules, pushing around word tiles on a grid to change the game’s rules. This gives the players multiple ways to clear the level. BABA IS YOU is no longer monotonous because players can always revisit levels to combine rulesets and come up with creative solutions for that level. However, because the game requires a lot of experimentation and trial-and-error, some players may find it too difficult or frustrating and be turned off. This is not a game for the casual gamer. The game’s difficulty level may be regarded as a barrier to entry for some players, limiting the game’s appeal.


BABA IS YOU does not go too in-depth into the story or plot. After all, it is not essential to have any context or background before clearing the levels. The main focus of each level is to provide a unique and challenging gameplay experience for the player. BABA IS YOU’s game mechanics gives it its competitive advantage over other games, a story line could potentially add to the attractiveness of the game, but it could also distract players from the main selling point of the game, which is to experiment with different rulesets to clear the levels.


The aesthetic attraction of BABA IS YOU is found in how it employs simplicity and minimalism to provide the player a distinctive and seamless experience. Players seeking a more meditative or minimalist gaming experience may find the game’s clean, uncluttered appearance appealing due to its minimalist art style and straightforward user interface. The game’s color scheme, which mainly consists primary colors against a dark background, also creates a sense of simplicity and cohesion. Furthermore, for typography, all rule words fit nicely in a unit square word tile, yet it is descriptive enough and fairly easy to understand what the implication of the word tile is. This is again aligned with the effective and minimalist aesthetics of the game.


BABA IS YOU is a 2D game which does not require advanced graphics. This is also a single player game which does not have online multiplayer support, nor any AI-powered enemies integrated. Hence, it can be played almost anyone who owns a decent computer with basic CPU and GPU. However, the minimalist aesthetics and low technical demands of the game may be viewed as a lack of visual and audio polish. This is especially so for players who are used to playing the latest AAA games (that have realistic graphics and interactiveness) may be disappointed by the game’s basic UIUX and technical features.


Night in the Woods, Baba Is You win big at the 2018 IGF Awards | Independent Games Festival


From the IGF 2022 website: https://igf.com/unpacking

Gameplay videos (disclaimer: it is not mine, and the person presented in the video is not me either)
Part 1: https://youtu.be/kZZXGdzkTVU?t=2m17s
Part 2: https://youtu.be/DF7ZHBzPFMc?t=3m10s

Game Description

Unpacking is a single player game where it simulates a person moving houses and having to unpack his/her items in the house. The overall storyline presents a person who has to move houses several times in his/her life due to various events, then the player would have to unpack his/her items in the house each time. The items can include a huge variety, from daily necessities, to toys, to books, to decoratives, and many more. The game is expected to be able to be completed within 5 hours, so it is a pretty short game. While the game looks very open-ended in terms of the possible places the player can place various items, there are certain rules that are bound for each item, which prohibits the item from being placed at certain places. For example, the photo of an ex-boyfriend cannot be placed in plain sight, and the player is supposed to stuff it into a cupboard instead of hanging on the wall (at that time, it was a result of a breakup).

Screenshot (taken from https://youtu.be/2hFS54C3Vy4): https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/707571615365464124/1066303274745082017/image.png

Let us examine how the Elemental Tetrad is applied in Unpacking.


The goal is to unpack everything and place all objects at their appropriate places in the house. Since it is a game that is played purely by using the mouse/cursor, the main player action is to drag and drop items to adjust their positions in the house. The environment is basically just the interior of the house itself. The rules are extremely simple, which is basically the same as the goal, with certain exceptions where each item has their own appropriate places to be placed. For example, as written above, the ex-boyfriend photo cannot be placed in plain sight, so it should be hidden from sight, such as inside the cupboard. When an object is placed inappropriately, it will be outlined in blinking red. As for the physics, objects cannot float, and the game ensures that all objects must either be hanged on the wall if possible, or must not be floating.


It presents a girl from young who goes through various phases of her life, which would cause her to shift houses. In particular, when her family moves houses as a whole, when she enrolled into a university, when she moves into her boyfriend’s place, when she breaks up with her boyfriend and moves back to her old house and when she moves into her husband’s house. It is very linear and the story actually does not affect the gameplay. It is mostly storytelling with no interactions needed by the player basically.


The music and visual effects are very calming in general. It is a relaxing game afterall with nothing much that is happening during the gameplay itself. The gameplay is very simple with not much special mechanics. There is also an ending song when the player finishes all the levels to describe what the girl in the story has experienced in summary. Also, the book also represents the diary of the girl in the story, and it is used to save pictures of each house at the end of each level. In fact, when the player starts the game, it even labels the book with the player’s input name, which enhances the flavour of the story as the story is about a girl living her life through the years.


The art is fairly simple (looks like pixel art) but they still look aesthetically pleasing and makes sense. It is played on a computer, preferably with a mouse, but touchpad is possible too. The keyboard is not needed other than to type the player’s name at the very beginning of the game, even then on-screen keyboard exists. There is also an ending song as mentioned earlier, which meant that some sort of song writing ability is needed, as well as the tools to create the melody of the song itself. Also, the animation of “writing” the year number and the “unpacking” logo probably also requires a screen recording device, but it could also be animated directly since the font looks too consistent to be handwritten (using the year numbers as comparison).

Now that we have analysed Unpacking against the Elemental Tetrad, we will now look at some other lenses of game design.

Lens of Problem Solving

This game is very simple, which is to place all objects appropriately. Essentially, the problem solving required is to complete the level. It is not competitive and there are no scoring systems of any kinds, so it is very relaxing.

Lens of Venue

It is a game about moving houses, so it makes sense for the game to be in a house. It is a simplified version where only the interior of the house matters. At the earlier levels, the player only needs to settle a few rooms instead of the whole house (based on the story, the girl is very young too, which means that she should have less responsibilities too. The exterior of the house is left untouched by the player, and it is inaccessible.

Lens of Judgement

There are huge judgements needed for this game to determine where should each object be placed. Most of the time, it is common sense as to where to place each object, but some objects are more tricky as they are more bulky, and players do not know exactly what is in each package (players draw a random item in the package). There could be many books to be placed on the shelf, and players would have to find a way to squeeze all those books in.

Lens of Imagination

Players take on the role of the girl in the story to place objects in the house. It is essentially up to the player on how to place each item appropriately. In fact, the “room” to enable such imagination in the game is pretty big.


It is a very cohesive game concentrated on the idea of moving houses, and also giving the relaxing vibe to the player through various art and music.