Loopmancer is an upcoming cyberpunk time-loop action roguelite from eBrain Studio that’s ready to make its way into your living room this year. The game looks promising and I have to test my mettle against the demo to see how well it is doing.
The story revolves around a detective named Xiang Zixu, who is killed on a mission to track down an underground criminal. However, he woke up back in his apartment early that morning. Yes, our officer is trapped in a mysterious loop, but he still retains the memory of his past “lifetime”. Figuring out the cause of this loop will be one of the core points of the plot, and eBrain promises that player accumulation of knowledge plays an essential role in shaping Loopmancer’s storytelling. For example, there are multiple results based on your actions. You can decide on different selections based on events from the previous loop. It’s hard to see the extent of that vision in this small part of the game; I just see random examples like Xiang trying to warn his superiors of upcoming events and they slowly coming to value him (or at least make him happy) with each iteration.
Xiang is armed with an arsenal of melee weapons ranging from swords to stools and handguns. Combat feels quick and fluid. I lunge at enemies close by, dash to avoid retaliation or close the gap, and fire from a distance. A hottie for stylish action, Loopmancer is hitting the right notes. You can also use extra equipment like mines and grenades to clear mobs. If that weren’t enough, Xiang has a cybernetic arm capable of unleashing attacks like sparks or blasts of fire. Loopmancer encourages skillful use of your mover. Enemies hit hard and often can knock the player up by activating a defense that absorbs damage or performing continuous attacks. Death comes quickly and often, which is why you should upgrade abilities, weapons, and stats with permanent improvements between runs.
The platform boasts the usual features like double jumps and handy grappling hooks for reaching high platforms. Levels frequently change their layout randomly to keep players motivated, and the rewards for discovery are hidden coins, an important resource to invest in weapons that can be used. new unlockables, as well as a unique checkpoint system. The special terminal restores health but loses its effect when completing a stage. The use of rare cores stores their resilience, providing another incentive for thorough exploration and follow-up.
Loopmancer’s challenging combat has legs, and the Asian-influenced cyberpunk world looks distinctive (albeit familiar) from an artistic standpoint. However, the experience really feels rough around some edges. Resetting the loop requires a ride through your apartment and the police station. You can quickly go through these areas, but it seems like stopping too much when I want to jump right back into the action. Skimming through the same cutscenes also annoyed me after a while. On a similar note, re-gathering lore notes is a chore, and the randomly changing environment doesn’t change often enough. I’ve been through at least three straight runs of the same level layout. Acceptable dialogue is average in a B-movie way, although enemy dialogue is horrendous. Finding enemies will result in them emitting energetic lines like “Tell my family!” or mundane reactions such as “He got our guy …”. It sounded more like they were suffering a minor inconvenience than being brutally slaughtered.
Loopmancer feels like a familiar roguelite walk so far that has some issues to work through before it unravels at launch. Action has potential, and the quality of the story depends on how creatively it uses the time loop premise. There’s an interesting game here, and I hope Loopmancer can realize its potential when it launches this year for PlayStation and Xbox consoles, Switch and PC.