Loopmancer PC Review

Loopmancer has quick action that can suddenly get bogged down by random level creation.

By Fragnarok, Posted 22 Jul 2022

Loopmancer is a side-scrolling action game by eBrain Studio. In a cyberpunk future, detective Xiang Zixu searches for the missing reporter Lisbeth, last seen interviewing gangster Wei Long. But upon catching up with Long, Zixu is killed by a barrage of gunfire. He instantly awakens in his apartment as if it was just a nightmare, only to receive a call from his supervisor to begin the Lisbeth investigation.


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Loopmancer contains Rogue-like elements. Players must complete all five stages in one life; if they die, they are sent back to stage one. All unspent currency is lost, but purchased weapons may be reobtained and strengthened, giving Zixu a limited amount of progression even when failing a run. If players make it through to the end, Zixu still dies, but this time will retain all saved money and acquired power-ups, making subsequent playthroughs even faster.

Zixu has a few additional options before leaving his apartment. Clues picked up on a run can be added to the Memento Board, giving additional information on characters, bosses, and other world lore. Some entries also grant either e-Coin money or another currency called Cubes. These can be used to grant permanent buffs like increased health or new attacks. Excess Cubes can also be used to purchase new costumes for Zixu or saved to repair healing stations in a level.


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Loopmancer has a full range of quick movements, including double jumps, sprinting, evasion, use of a grappling hook, and ducking. These will all be used to weave between combat, explorations, and puzzle solving fluidly. The default keyboard layout is quite uncomfortable, with such combinations as D+Shift > Space > Left Control to execute a dashing hook jump. PC players should either rebind every key or, better yet, use a console controller. But there is no full controller customization, only three presets.  

Zixu has a few different weapons, tools, and items to utilize in his quest. He can wield melee weapons of various speeds, strength, and combo lengths. If players defeat enough enemies without being hit, they can execute a powerful “overkill” finishing move that also provides invincibility during the entire animation.


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Zixu can also equip a gun for ranged attacks, though ammo is limited until finding a supply cache. Tactical Gear is extremely powerful offensive tech but has limited capacity for the entire level. Finally, Skill Chips offer an instant ability with a long cooldown but can otherwise be used an infinite amount of times.

Which of these items will be available is completely random. Prior to a mission, Zixu will be given a selection of three free items - including possible multiples of the same category. While out on investigation, there are two options for spending Zixu’s e-Coin currency.
 

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The first is direct purchases from the friendly merchant Funk, but his gear is lost if players end up dying. The second option is weapon terminals found randomly in each stage. Players can invest e-Coins directly into the machine and even upgrade the initial item, retaining these investments on all subsequent loops. All held items can be further upgrades at the police station with the help of tech Dave Ray.

Zixu may have different leads to follow at certain points, resulting in several alternate endings.  Loopmancer is designed with the intent that players will die, try again and eventually become stronger. The game may at first present an impossible situation - like saving two hostages across town in less than five minutes - only for this to be a cakewalk after five to ten runs of the entire game. Completing all events will eventually lead to the true ending where Zixu finally succeeds.


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Each stage will have a random layout - unique hazards, enemy placement, and weapons. On full replays of Loopmancer, the game may even visually “glitch” and scrambles enemy sets to other levels - like finding Kouga ninjas out of place in a mutant camp. However, this makes it hard to prepare for a level or gain muscle memory, as situations may not spawn again.

Random levels can also interrupt pacing, as an action-packed sequence might suddenly come to a crawl when a platforming puzzle section is unexpectedly jammed in. Worst of all, enemies can sometimes be placed in absolutely frustrating locations. This includes snipers firing completely off-screen or invisible foes hanging out on ledges as Zixu traverses upwards. When weird combinations are mixed together, the camera highly prioritizes puzzles and hook ledges, leading to a far too zoomed-out view while a battle is still taking place.


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Combat balance in Loopmancer is all over the place. Attacks from both Zixu and enemies lack correct hit stun, deal surprisingly heavy damage, and often register damage half a second before an animation connects. At other points, a simple pistol might have rapid knockback and juggle potential. This makes encounters less like an action game and more like an MMO RPG where calculations are more important than timing.

The gameplay is generally too busy and cluttered to discern by animations alone. This is further compounded by the aggressive default motion blur that makes fights even harder to parse while moving. This setting can be disabled but can make the game suffer from slowing down. As of the game’s first patch, more icons have been added to recognize hazards and certain attacks quickly.


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Voice acting is all over the place in Loopmancer. Regular enemies have terrible line delivery, often spouting the exact phrase repeatedly. There is also constant use of the famous Wilhelm scream when killing Wei Long’s underlings. The main characters don’t fare much better, with cutscenes ranging from passable to ear-grating. Characters weave between English, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese, but it is clear that either actor aren’t bilingual or two actors are playing one person.

Loopmancer will be repetitive for a very long time, but after collecting e-Coins and Cores will eventually become far too easy. The game has a great foundation but needs tweaks to balance performance and level generations. Maybe with three to six months of more work and patch updates, Loopmancer will become a side-scrolling classic.
 

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
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General Information

Loopmancer

75/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): eBrain Studio, Yooreka Studio, Xu
Developer(s): eBrain Studio
Genres: 3D Platformer
Themes: Action, Side-Scrolling, Cyberpunk, Roguelike
Release Date: 2022-07-13

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