eBrain Studio’s upcoming cyberpunk time-looping action rogue-lite Loopmancer is set to slash its way into your living room this year. The game appears to be promising, and we were able to put our skills to the test against a demo to see how well it’s shaping out.
The plot revolves around a detective named Xiang Zixu, who is assassinated while on a mission to track down an underground crime lord. He does, however, return to his flat early that morning. That’s correct, our officer is stuck in a strange loop, but he remembers his past “lives.” One of the main plot aspects in Loopmancer will be figuring out what’s causing the loop, and eBrain promises that players’ expertise will be crucial in influencing the story. For example, depending on your activities, you can get a variety of results. Based on occurrences from a previous loop, you may make alternative decisions. During this little portion of the game, it was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of that vision; we only saw incidental examples like Xiang attempting to warn his superiors of impending events, and them increasingly taking him seriously (or at the very least amusing him) with each loop.
Xiang is armed with a variety of combat weapons and weaponry, ranging from swords to bar stools. Combat is quick and fluid. We screamed at enemies up close, raced to avoid reprisal or narrow gaps, and fired shots from a safe distance. Loopmancer is hitting all the right notes for us like a sucker for slick action. To clear mobs, you can employ supplementary equipment like proximity mines and grenades. As if that weren’t enough, Xiang also has a bionic arm that can fire bolts of lightning or a stream of flame. Loopmancer invites you to use your moveset to its full potential. Enemies can hit hard and throw players off by activating damage-absorbing protective states or launching uninterruptable attacks. Because death came quickly and frequently, it’s a good idea to update abilities, weapons, and stats with permanent upgrades in between runs.
Loopmancer’s platforming includes standard features like a double leap and a grappling hook for reaching elevated levels. Exploration rewards secret stashes of currency, a vital resource for investing in new unlocking weaponry, as well as a unique checkpoint system, and levels randomly vary their layouts every so often to keep players on their toes. Special terminals replenish health but lose their effectiveness once a level is completed. Spending uncommon cores preserve their healing potential, giving you even another reason to explore deeply and keep a lookout.
Loopmancer’s difficult combat has staying power, and the Asian-inspired cyberpunk universe looks fantastic (though familiar) from a visual sense. However, there are some rough edges to the experience. A journey through your dwelling and the police station is required to reset the loop. Although you can speed through these sections, it feels like one halt is too many when we’re wanting to get back into the action. After a while, skipping through the same cutscenes irritated us as well. Re-collecting lore notes is a pain, and the randomly shifting settings don’t change frequently enough. We ran through the same level layout at least three times in a row. In a B-movie sort of manner, the dialogue is acceptable, though the enemy dialogue is comically bad. As you slice through your enemies, you’ll hear over-the-top comments like “Tell my family!” or banal ones like “He got our guy…” It sounds like they’re going through a minor annoyance rather than being slaughtered mercilessly.