I’m not too far into Loopmancer, but I’m loving it. It’s a beautiful 2D roguelite mounted in a glorious 3D cyberpunk world. You have great wonderfully nasty weapons, the controls are swift and precise, and the polish fails at the most charming moments – your character’s hair is one, and the pleasantly stilted swearing of your enemies is another.
But there’s already something about it that I am really becoming obsessed by. The pocket money. Downed enemies drop money for you to collect, money which you too will lose if you have it on you when you die. So instead, it’s imperative that you invest it. Loopmancer: stylish, violent, and impressively prudent.
Luckily for us, you’re investing your money in stylish violence. Scattered around the game’s levels are terminals that allow you to put your money towards unlocking the fancier parts of the game’s arsenal. Whenever I come across one of these terminals, even if it’s a basic grenade I doubt I’ll use, I end up dropping all my cash into it, because this is a roguelite and I lose my cash when I die, and – crucially – I have to assume I’ll die pretty soon.
So here’s an interesting fail state. Dying is fine – you’re kicked back in the loop, you wake up back at your apartment, and you grind the level you were on once again. But dying when you had a load of cash on you is a proper nightmare. Other games have done this – I seem to remember getting very upset about what I’d just lost when I died in Rogue Legacy. But there’s something about the little banking terminals set up here, and the miserly flow of cash itself, that makes it particularly stinging.
There is a lot more about this game that I love, of course. I love how brisk the combat is, and how the levels are scattered up and down across various floors and with various routes – and enlivened by just a gentle bit of procedural scrambling. I love the evidence wall back at your apartment, and I love the whole busywork stuff inherent in action games that both give you an apartment and a cat to look after, and also make you go into the office first before you head out for slaughter.
One last thing. I love the detailing in the 3D backgrounds that I glimpse now and then as I’m disemboweling people. Just behind me, into the screen, as it were, I’ll see a little food place set up surrounded by shipping containers and piles of junk. Or the glimpse of a dive bar, where the lights are low and the drinks are probably quite cheap. These are places I would be happy to spend a bit of money – if I wasn’t using it all to unlock those grenades, of course.