Loop8 Summer of Gods Review

Home » Game Reviews » Time Travel Taking a Turn for the Worst – Loop8 Summer of Gods Review

Loop8 is a JRPG, but with a heavy focus on managing relationships with the protagonist’s friends. It also emphasizes traveling in time loops if things don’t work out, and the game takes place entirely in the month of August (the 8th month), hence the name “Loop8”. Unfortunately, the game does feel like a budget title with many bad quality of life decisions that make the game a real chore to play as well as a very clunky combat system.

I will not spoil the plot of the game and I’ll only give a basic premise of the plot and the gameplay mechanics. The game stars a student named Nini, who is sent to a rural area of Japan after the space station he was on was destroyed. This game features many fantasy elements, and in this title a demon menace named Kegai are destroying countries. The game does a good job of showing the duality of the situation; for instance, the nature of rural Japan is beautiful, but at the same time humanity is on extinction. It’s actually similar in tone to the anime Evangelion, where you see humanity on the brink of extinction but you still get to see interesting areas of Japan and Shinji interacts with a wide cast of characters to get through daily life between battles.

I was surprised that the game actually has an English dub, which is a rarity for JRPGs in general nowadays. The beginning, ending, and important lines of dialogue are all voiced in English while the generic text is unvoiced. There are thousands of lines of voiced dialogue in the game with a cast of a little over a dozen major characters and the dub voice acting is professionally done. The only voice acting I didn’t like was the protagonist, who narrates the beginning and I didn’t feel like that was necessary, but later scenes where he has a few lines of dialogue if a friend dies are genuinely heart-wrenching.

The artwork in the game is great. The close-up 3D models of characters when talking to NPCs is great and the battle models are great too, but the 3D models on the map leaves a bit to be desired. The enemy designs are pretty generic, but the bosses are all unique and have amazing designs. The environment is beautifully designed, but controlling the protagonist on the maps is clunky and very slow. The character graphics are similar to those in the game AI: The Somnium Files, a bit on the lower budget side and not technically impressive, but the art style and art direction are certainly there.

The gameplay really focuses on the minutiae of life, or in other words, all of the smaller details. Nini attends summer school which is optional and you can explore the map to talk to a wide variety of characters, from other students, teachers, adults, children, and a Tamamo deity named Beni. You need to interact with these character in a visual novel style, learning about their conflicts or just talking about their likes and dislikes.

One major supporting character you’re introduced to in the introduction is Konoha, who says she’s your cousin but is actually your aunt (like a grandparent having another child after their own child had a child) which is odd because you can pursue a romantic relationship with her and you really wouldn’t see that in the West.

Loop8 Summer of Gods Screenshot 1
The 3D models up-close are decent. When hanging out with friends you can choose a variety of options. (Image Credit: Marvelous & XSEED Games)

There’s a time management system, where a clock is constantly ticking away each day and you have a month (August) to complete the entire game. After the tutorial of 3 days, you’re actually free to do whatever you want. You can choose between talking to other characters or improving your stats. Your stats vary between many categories, but some include strength, appeal, intelligence, and more. These will either affect your stamina or energy, which are your MP and HP in battles, respectively. Your stamina and energy affect you outside of battle as well, with talking to your friends costing points. You can choose different options when talking to friends. It starts out limited, but you can get more options as you get to know them better, which at the same time may cost more stamina and energy to use.

It can become a headache because it’s very overwhelming all the stats you have to manage. On top of this you have friendship, affinity, and hate for each character. In general you want to increase the former two, with affinity being on the more romantic side of things.

The gameplay of this game is very repetitive and grindy. You know how recent Persona’s (3, 4, 5) have a calendar system as well? They managed to do it right and even perfect the system. The developers of those games made the individual days not too monotonous, and the social link system manages to divide your friendships into mostly equally spaced portions. Even games considered “Persona knock-offs” such as The Caligula Effect and Tokyo Xanadu manage to do this right.

On the other hand, in Loop8 all of the character dialogue is uncategorized and, frankly, a mess. This means you have to go through thousands of lines of generic throw-away dialogue to get the good scenes with the characters. Loop8 is way too bloated with way too much unnecessary dialogue and there’s no way around it, making the game extremely boring to play. For some reason the dialogue scenes are not categorized well either, with black screens after these scenes and then you have to talk to the character again to continue. There are some scenes that consist of two lines, then the screen dips to black and then you have to talk to the character again. The issue is that you’ll have to keep doing this.

One major problem is in the beginning of the game with Beni, where talking to her is a complete lore-dump and I talked to her about 50 times within just the first half hour to get through her dialogue, some of which was interesting lore about the world but a lot of generic dialogue too like her talking about fluffing her tail and such.

This issue is compounded because you need to get through the generic dialogue to get to the option to increase your friendship or to have them join your party for battles, which I’ll get to later. I know that this game takes inspiration from visual novels and that it’s meant to be full of dialogue. My issue, though, is that the dialogue is extremely unstructured. It should’ve had some kind of system like how Persona has 10 distinct social links for each character. It doesn’t make sense in Loop8 how some scenes are only two lines, then you need to talk to them again.

By the time I finished the game I talked to each character thousands of times and my fingers were sore from mashing (if you don’t talk to the character again fast enough time passes in the game), compared to Persona where you’re not actually talking to characters that much because you’re just letting the cutscenes play.

I’ve played many hundreds of hours long visual novel games or JRPGs with a lot of dialogue, but this game should’ve structured everything better. It doesn’t help that the early-game is hard until you grind up your protagonist’s stats, with a lot of companions outright rejecting you and increasing your hate status. A lot of times it’s not in your control and choosing the wrong dialogue option will make them mad.

When choosing suggestions on what to do when hanging out with your companions you don’t get a percentage chance indicator. Instead, you get your chance of success described as words in a qualitative way, not quantitatively. So to give an example, let’s say you want to invite Beni for cutlets, it’ll say something like “probably will work” or it could say “I’m sure of it”. Usually the descriptors aren’t too bad but there’s a lot of factors such as the mood of the area and the mood of the character you’re talking to, so sadly “I’m sure of it” might not be a 100% chance and adds even more complexity to the game.

Loop8 Summer of Gods Screenshot 4
The characters are all very nuanced and have their own personalities and conflicts. Beni was an interesting character. (Image Credit: Marvelous & XSEED Games)

The worst part is I didn’t even talk about the talking magical squirrel in Loop8 yet. Almost every time you get revealing information about a companion’s struggles in life and whatnot a magic squirrel appears to give you a bonus along with 5 lines of dialogue you need to mash through. There is a fast dialogue option but it’s actually faster to mash it.

The problem is that some of these scenes with your friends only consist of 2 lines of dialogue, then the squirrel pops up to congratulate you, and it doesn’t help that its voice is on the irritating side. I’ve had it pop up 10 times in under a minute of gameplay and I’m not exaggerating. It’s annoying to the point where I wonder if they play-tested the game and it makes no sense to me. I genuinely wanted to learn more about the characters by interacting with them because the characters are extremely nuanced, but it was such a chore to do so. The squirrel constantly popping up to congratulate you is game-breaking, to the point of ruining the game even further. I’m not joking, if you thought Ratatoskr from God of War: Ragnarok was bad you’ll get an aneurism from the squirrel in this game.

The gameplay structure is also very awkward as well. You raise your stats and you befriend people to take them with you in dungeons. The twist with this game is that every few days there will be a calamity and you need to stop it. A kegai deity will take over one of your friends randomly and you’ll need to find that friend to gain access to Yomotsu Hirasaka, an evil version of Japan that has the kegai who possessed your friend who you need to fight. You’ll fight the boss to, hopefully, save the friend that became possessed, but if you didn’t raise their friendship or affinity enough then they’ll be permanently killed. I do love the real life lore of the deities and they prey on that person’s insecurities in a way that makes narrative sense.

Loop8 Summer of Gods Screenshot 5
Many of the character in the game tease the protagonist, Nini, for coming from outer space. (Image Credit: Marvelous & XSEED Games)

If you’re not able to save the world by defeating the boss in time, you’ll game over and loop back to August 1. When you repeat the game, all stats resets but you gain stats and friendships faster. I didn’t find a way to easily skip dialogue or the squirrel, making a new loop playthrough very useless.

You’ll also get a new order of bosses; it won’t repeat what happened in your last playthrough which is annoying too because I was preparing for a specific boss and then now the order of the bosses fought was changed making my build worthless. This random-ness was very annoying too because on my first playthrough I got a really difficult boss early on who kept spamming accuracy down on my party and critical up on himself, causing him to one-shot my party members and I couldn’t even hit the boss, but the later bosses were significantly easier which left me scratching my head at the balancing issues.

I did a new loop where much easier bosses were fought and then that same boss I lost to was fought as one of the later bosses, which was much easier since I now had more tools to use against it. In contrast, Persona and most other games will have a fixed story and order of bosses. From my experimenting on multiple playthroughs, in Loop8 it does make the bosses stronger or weaker depending on the order you face them, with earlier bosses being weaker and later bosses being more tanky but it doesn’t change their moveset from what I could see which is what really makes the battles hard in the first place.

When in Yomotsu Hirasaka, you need to explore to find the boss, protected by a barrier. You need to collect magatamas to undo the barrier, which are stat-checks. Here’s all the ways it can go wrong. If you don’t pass enough stat-checks, you cannot fight the boss. It’s somewhat random, so if you have time to go out of the dungeon and in it again the next day (leaving the dungeon consumes the entire day) maybe you’ll get lucky to have magatamas that have stat-checks you can pass. There are enemies, but from my playthrough it was honestly only one kind of enemy type with palette swaps, and there are no levels in this game, you might be able to increase friendship from fighting but it’s much more efficient to just hang out with friends outside of battle.

Loop8 Summer of Gods Screenshot 2
The battle system is turn-based. Unfortunately, you cannot control your party members. (Image Credit: Marvelous & XSEED Games)

Then, you need to fight the boss, which will be one of your friends possessed by a kegai deity. This can go wrong in many ways. If you didn’t build up enough friendship or affinity points with that character in advance, then you won’t be able to save that friend no matter what and they’ll be permanently dead unless you loop to a new playthrough. If you want to reload, you actually need to reload by many days or even weeks. I found the friend I didn’t build enough affinity with, but he gets sucked away by a void as soon as the countdown timer began (“5 days away until game over”) so I can’t build up affinity even though you’d think I’d have time until the countdown actually was up. The game encourages you to loop to fix mistakes but it’s very annoying with all the repeated dialogue and the game doesn’t acknowledge it’s another playthrough. The problem is compounded because the whole game is compressed into thirty days, meaning the deadlines were always about 5 days apart or so, really adding more stress.

Adding onto that, if any of your party members die during a fight then their death is permanent unless you loop to a new playthrough. This is horrendous because I couldn’t find a healing character and my party members were dying to tanky bosses who took too long to defeat. You also have no control of your party members whatsoever, so often they’d be doing moves to the opposite of what I wanted, like if a boss debuffs my accuracy they’d never use the move to increase my accuracy or if the boss was one hit away from dying they’d use a buffing move, etc. I ended up building a powerful protagonist and not even using party members because they were such a liability and I didn’t want them to die permanently!

The combat system is also very slow. The animations for the skills are well-made, but there’s always a line of dialogue before doing the move. This is very terrible for boss fights, where in some instances the boss will go as far as to yell an entire soliloquy before one of their moves. The battles end up being terribly long. I understand why they did this, because each boss is one of your friends taken over by a deity and there’s a narrative reason why this happened. Some of the bosses try to taunt you too, but in the end it just really makes the battles very slow and not fun to play.

It also doesn’t help that the protagonist has a severe lack of moves to use in combat. You have several damaging moves and moves to defend your party members, but you can’t win by defending as you still need to damage the boss so it’s not too good. You also have options to replenish your stamina and energy, but you can’t do that for party members and party members unfortunately cannot heal their health, only MP, making my protagonist the one I’d use. Why was there no healing, buffing or debuffing moves for the protagonist? You unlock moves by meeting certain stat requirements which make sense, such as needing certain strength and agility for physical moves. So why couldn’t they have added spells for the protagonist to heal, buff, debuff, etc, which would depend on other stats such as appeal or divine power? Someone with a lot of appeal can probably buff their friends, for example, so it would make sense from a narrative standpoint. Your protagonist does have a demon eye allowing you to see what moves your party members will make, the moves the enemy will make, as well as what buffs/debuffs you have, but it’s still not useful.

There are no consumable items in this game which is a missed opportunity. No equipment is in the game either and you have to increase your companions’ battle stats by hanging out with them. It’s way too much micromanagement because it’s not just your protagonist, now you have to manage all your companions’ strength, appeal, intelligence, etc.

Speaking of the protagonist’s stats again, you can’t grind levels and have to spend time raising your stats. One issue is that although the game has a tutorial, it’s not really that useful. It doesn’t show you all the locations on where you can raise your stats, so you really need to explore the locations at the right time as well. The Yomotsu Hirasaka is all just a palette swap of Japan you explore with maybe a couple of screens of fields added, meaning all bosses use the same dungeon.

Without mentioning spoilers, I enjoyed the multiple endings this game had and I was able to get an extra epilogue scene as well. But I don’t really think the whole trek through the game was worth it. The battle system in this title is extremely underwhelming and just everything about how this game is structured is bad, from way too much unnecessary dialogue, to repeating dialogue in new loop playthroughs, the squirrel popping up, way too many stats to grind for all the characters, stat-checks everywhere, very easy to fail if you don’t raise all your companions’ friendships and affinity enough, etc. Again, it’s not just the big players such as Persona doing it right, even every other low budget JRPG or visual novel does it better too. This game is marred by many bad decisions and it’s just not fun to play at all. They should’ve just made it into a regular visual novel like Stein;s Gate because most of the time management gameplay in Loop8 is not fun at all.

Loop8: Summer of Gods

Our Score: Okay

Pros

  • The plot as a whole involving deities taking over your friends’ bodies is interesting, and the characters are all very distinct and interesting.
  • The game is extremely non-linear, and you can do anything you’d like early on.
  • The idea of being able to “loop” to restart your playthrough is very interesting, and when you loop the order of the bosses you fight will be different.
  • An English dub in a JRPG game with a heavy narrative is a great addition.
  • Amazing boss reveals and boss designs.
Cons

  • Way too much generic dialogue between meaningful dialogue. You have to mash the button to keep talking with your companions constantly. The squirrel appearing every 5 seconds is downright infuriating.
  • Poor quality of life gameplay. There’s a fast forward text option, but it’s actually slower than just mashing the buttons. Going onto a new loop does multiply your gains faster, BUT you need to go through all the repetitive dialogue again which takes dozens of hours. You need to re-fight all bosses on new loops as well.
  • Combat is just not fun. No leveling, equipment, or items. All stats are from training activities or hanging out with companions. You cannot control party members in battle. Protagonist has a severe lack of good skills for combat.
  • The game is extremely unforgiving because it badly wants you to keep looping to new playthroughs. If you don’t raise friendship with certain characters before they’re possessed, you cannot save them that playthrough. If any party members die, they also permanently die that playthrough. Barely any party members have healing skills, and your protagonist only heals himself.

Brandon Harris
Reviewed on the PC

Brandon is a passionate gamer and reviewer who respects the artistic and technical prowess that goes into creating interactive experiences. He enjoys playing the guitar, volunteering, and traveling to experience different cultures.


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