Game: Loop8: Summer of Gods
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows ), PS4 and Xbox One)
Developer | Publisher: Marvelous (XSeed)
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 12+
Price: US $49.99 | UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: June 6th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Marvelous Europe and Decibel PR
RPG Loop8: Summer of Gods is a game about Nini, who has the power to save the world. A world that the Kegai almost entirely swallows up. The adventure takes place in a nostalgic-looking part of Japan, with beautifully recreated snapshots of a rural Japanese townscape. Battles are turn-based in this RPG, but levelling up uses a unique system. Let’s take a look!
A Bit of Background
Kegai, creatures from the Underworld, are based in Japanese folklore and have manifested themselves over history in the form of horrible calamities. And every time, humanity manages to rise again, and Japan’s islands are born over and over in every new Loop.
At this time, there isn’t much left of the world after the last calamity. The Kegai have pushed humanity to the brink of extinction. Earth’s survivors have sought refuge among the stars. Nini, a high school student raised on the failed space station called the ‘Hope,’ returns to Earth for the summer of 1983 in Ashihara, a rural Japanese town that serves as one of the few remaining sanctuaries for mankind. Although Ashihara has been relatively untouched, the looming threat of the Kegai remains, and the protective divine barrier shielding the town won’t hold forever.
Nini possesses a unique power called the Demon Sight, which grants him the ability to see into the ‘Underworld,’ where the Kegai lurk. It also lets him see the thoughts and emotions of the people he meets. This is an important power, as it will be the key to the last hope for humanity’s survival. And as is often the case, he can’t face this ancient menace alone. Up to you to make Nini forge bonds with his classmates if they are to stand a chance against the impending threat.
Time in Loops
When Nini arrives in Ashihara it’s August 1, and we know that he will have only the month of August to prevent the Kegai from taking over even this last sanctuary. The first few days are spent as a tutorial, teaching you everything you need to know. The first loop ends in a battle, which I lost, which was intended to happen. Because afterwards, I just returned to the start of my Loop on August 1, and this time I could make my own choices.
What’s important to know is that every loop lasts five days in RPG Loop8: Summer of Gods. This is due to the fact that The Kegai can possess someone and consume their victim in 5 days. During the day, Nini is busy forging relationships, doing activities to raise his stats and hunting for blessings, which can raise stats or influence relationships. At night, you will witness how one of the Kegai manages to break the barrier and make it into Ashihara. And the next night, how the Kegai make a victim (nothing gruesome, mind you). So on day 3 of the Loop, it’s time for Nini to spring into action and form a team to take with him into the Underworld, Yomotsu Hirasaka.
When Nini and company are successful in saving the Kegai’s victim, the next Loop starts. If Nini perishes himself, you are back to August 1 and must do it all over. But you do keep some of the friend stats with the other characters; these are from blessings you have received.
Emotional AI System
It is an interesting concept that much is sure. Marvelous has implemented in Loop8: Summer of Gods what they call the Karel system. It’s an emotional AI system that makes sure the emotions and human relationships of the characters change depending on your choices. This means the story unfolds differently each time you play.
Friendship, affection, and hate define Relationships with classmates and other people. Suggestions for activities coming from Nini will build these relationships. When you know characters well enough, there will be more activities to choose from. Plus, the type of suggestions to choose from varies with how the characters feel at that moment. A good thing that Nini has demon sight, for he can check how the character is feeling before making the suggestion. There is an emotional value (Stamina and Energy) to pay for each suggestion. That in turn depends on how Nini sees the character he addresses, as well as on their gender.
I would have liked it if the suggestions had had more body. I mean, you can choose: get to know them better. The character mostly responds with thanks or something, but you don’t witness what has been said. You do get some background about the story or an interesting insight into one of the characters from time to time, but never from the suggestions. It feels very much as if you are a bystander.
Musasa Brings Blessings
Another influence on the relationship is blessings. You can receive them from shrines or other special places, but also at certain moments in your chats and activities. These blessings vary and can have an effect on one of the stats or on the emotions that make up the relationship. They are delivered by Musasa, the divine envoy, who looks super cute. However, I can tell you it gets pretty annoying how often it pops up and stops the gameplay. I won’t complain, though, as all benefits are very welcome!
All of this makes up a grid on Nini’s relationship with the other 12 characters, but the other characters also develop a relationship with each other.
Saving Your Friend
When you feel Nini is strong enough to enter the Underworld and try to save the friend that has been possessed, you have to form a team. You can take two friends with you, and you have to handpick them. Invite them to walk with you if you feel your relationship with this friend is strong enough. But at the same time, you have to keep an eye out for the relationship that your chosen companions have with the victim. The relationships between the characters will also bring about significant changes in the battles. Hate, for example, will make the Kegai stronger, making it harder to be victorious.
Nini needs Magatame to breach the barrier of the boss once he is in Yomotsu Hirasaka, and he generally gets those from smaller battles or trials. When he has enough, he can start the boss battle. Battles are turn-based, but you can only control Nini. The others choose their own actions, attacking the boss or boosting each other’s stats.
I felt the battles in Loop8: Summer of Gods were few and that the difficulty ramped up quickly. All the more, as there is so little room for error, knowing failure means resetting to the start of the game.
Visuals and Sounds
There’s no doubt about it. Loop8: Summer of Gods is a beautiful game. The cutscenes are amazing, detailed and life-like. Game designer and scenario writer, Yuri Shibamura, has captured a nostalgic 80s atmosphere. Outside of the cutscenes, the graphics are also good, but the way Nini walks looks a bit strange and is very slow. Also, I wish I could pan the camera, but that’s not a feature.
I feel as if the surroundings could have been fleshed out more. For example, on the main street, I can only get food to restore my energy in one restaurant and one café, while there are many more storefronts and vending machines. But maybe this is a result of Ashihara being the last little bit of earth that hasn’t succumbed to the Kegai.
The soundtrack by Tokuyuki Iwatar is good and never intrusive. The theme song, “Original Scenery”, is sung by Nanaho, a multi-talented artist, singer, actress and TV personality. I haven’t been able to find it yet on Spotify, but I will surely be on the lookout.
Playing Loop8: Summer of Gods, I debated about which rating to give. Often I know even from the start which way my verdict will go, but not so this time. At first, the town felt so barren, and I often felt like I was just clicking away. Suggesting as much as I could towards everyone I met. Eventually, I began to see how I should play the game, paying more attention to relationships and whose friendship I wanted the most. Plus, I did my best to max my stats with activities.
I liked the battles; I would have loved more of them, not just on the days that the gate to the underworld was open. But what made me keep on doubting my verdict was the feeling of being an outsider. Sure, I tried to get closer to my classmates by making the right suggestions, but I would have loved more real background stories and feeling. When I suggest “Get to know better”, I really want to know the person!
I am going for I Like It, as I feel Loop8: Summer of Gods has more potential. To get the A Lot added to the I Like It, I would have needed more fleshed-out characters to relate to, making forming an emotional bond less a matter of clicking away and more of really wanting to know them more!
Final Verdict: I Like It