Loop8: Summer of Gods Review – Shooting for the Stars

    Unfortunately, it doesn't quite reach them.

    The time loop is perhaps one of the most overused sci-fi/fantasy plot devices I know, yet I simply can’t get enough of it. There’s something inherently appealing to me about seeing how a single scenario can play out in several different ways. Whether it’s Steins;Gate or All You Need Is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow, I can often find myself enjoying a time loop story. It’s a tried and true method of telling a story in movies/books/anime/manga, but what about video games? Well, the answer to that is Majora’s Mask, but Loop8: Summer of Gods is the latest attempt to bring the time loop concept to games. 

    The reality is that implementing a time loop mechanic in a game is tricky. Other mediums can easily curate each loop, preserving a good sense of pacing (unless you’re the Endless Eight arc from Haruhi and blatantly decide to ignore this). Games don’t really have the privilege of being able to meticulously curate what the player experiences during each time loop (with the exception of visual novels). So, does Loop8: Summer of Gods present a worthwhile interactive time loop experience, or does it fall under the weight of its ambition? 

    Welcome to Ashihara

    Strolling through Main Street in Loop 8
    Main Street is perhaps my favorite location in Loop8: Summer of Gods

    Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of Loop8 is its setting. The world of this game comes off as somewhat dream-like in how it juxtaposes a relaxing 1980s-style rural Japanese town with a fairly bleak premise. I am a sucker for rural Japanese settings and Loop8 is no exception to this. The sense of atmosphere is spot on and can feel incredibly calming, despite the stakes at hand. 

    When you begin your first playthrough, you understand what your goal is. Humanity is nearing extinction thanks to beings from the Underworld known as Kegai. It is your job as the player to somehow stop the Kegai invasion and save what’s left of the world. Despite this, you still feel as if you are a fish out of water and that’s because you kind of are. Nini, the protagonist, formerly lived in space but has now arrived in Ashihara after humanity’s escape to the stars didn’t work out so well. 

    The town of Ashihara is something of a social puzzle for the player to solve. At least at the beginning, you are not completely at the center of everyone’s attention. It’s up to you to discover how the people of Ashihara and their relationships work. Not every character is as they initially seem, and some characters can be a bit more complex than others. Above all else, the social elements of Loop8: Summer of Gods are at the core of its appeal. 

    The Gameplay Loop

    Loop8: Summer of Gods gameplay
    You won’t be seeing much of this screen.

    Let me get this out of the way first. Loop8: Summer of Gods is definitely not a game for those who are looking for a combat-focused JRPG. Yes, the game contains combat encounters, but you’ll only be engaging in them approximately 20% of the time. Honestly, I’m pretty glad that combat encounters are rare, but I will explain why later. The other 80% of the game is a time management social sim where you’ll mostly build relationships with your high school classmates. 

    If this sounds a bit like Persona to you, that’s because it is. Loop8 doubles down on the social aspects of Persona and attempts to provide a more complex experience in that regard. Not only do you have to consider how other characters regard you, but you also should consider how other characters regard each other. Some characters are fond of each other, and others hate each other. Paying attention to this can sometimes help you out. 

    As soon as you take control of Nini, the clock starts ticking. Time can pass without you doing anything, and you can theoretically spend an entire loop idle inside your room (not that you would want to do this). This initially creates a sense of urgency. At first, it can feel as though you need to spend every second doing something. It’s a structure I very much enjoyed at first, but this sense of urgency faded the more I got into the game, and not necessarily for good reasons. 

    The Ambition of Loop8’s Social Mechanics

    A conversation with Beni
    I can’t be the only one that thinks Beni could have a successful career as a VTuber.

    I admire the ambition of Loop8. It’s trying its best to craft a complex social system, but it’s apparent that the game has been made with a very limited budget. Unfortunately, building relationships with characters can be a bit of a mind-numbing grind. It will be a while until your options open up. You will repeatedly need to make the same suggestions again and again until you start getting interesting dialogue. Fortunately, most of the characters are likable enough that it feels worth building relationships with them.

    However, not every character is equal. Some characters are hiding intriguing secrets, while others are exactly as they seem. At least one twist with a certain character caught me off guard, even though it was foreshadowed, because I never considered how the twist could be possible. In addition to this, at least two other characters stood out to me due to the complexity of their relationship. 

    One of the only times I looped in my playthrough was my favorite moment of the game. As soon as I beat a boss, I had no choice but to kill a character. The game made it clear that I had done something wrong, but it didn’t stop me from continuing. I had to choose whether I wanted to go back and correct my mistake or just continue with blood on my hands. Moments like these are where Loop8 realizes its potential and becomes a wonderfully unique experience. Unfortunately, these kinds of moments are more rare than I would like. 

    Loop8: Summer of Gods Is Incredibly Easy

    The clasroom in Loop8
    The classroom is prime for NPC jank.

    Sadly, this game’s social mechanics feel like they can be easily exploited. Unless they are an event, suggestions require no time investment, and an unsuccessful suggestion barely punishes the player. There is no reason not to keep making suggestions unless you have a 50/50 chance of success or below. Thanks to this, it only took me three loops to beat the game and reach the maximum friendship and affection stats with all characters.

    Loop8 attempts to tackle the tedium of looping by speeding up the process of rebuilding relationships in each loop. While it makes going through much of the same dialogue again a bit more of a breeze, it only makes an already easy game even easier. One thing Persona definitely does better is a sense of momentum. In Persona, you must invest time in building relationships, leading to interesting decision-making. In Loop8, you ultimately don’t have to worry about time investment too much. 

    Divine Blessings are something you will continuously pick up as you play through the game. If the game wasn’t already easy enough, these make the difficulty of the game an absolute joke. You get to keep any Divine Blessings you find between loops, which can quickly make Nini completely overpowered. 

    Prevent the End of the World

    Loop8: Summer of Gods trailer introduces daily life in Ashihara
    Nini looks like a slightly less generic protagonist when he activates his power.

    There are no dungeons in Loop8: Summer of Gods. Instead, you will take a portal to a spooky version of Ashihara that tasks you with collecting magatama. You can go here alone or with party members, but you will need to recruit them by building relationships with them first. Collecting magatama requires you to pass a skill check, but I only ever struggled with this very early on in the game. Chances are likely that Nini’s stats will be too good by the time you reach these skill checks. 

    Picking up these magatama becomes a tedious chore you can’t avoid. You will not be able to fast travel in this version of Ashihara, which makes your slow movement speed a major annoyance. As you progress through the game, you will be required to pick up more magatama than your previous visit to this realm, making the process even more irritating than it was before. 

    Once you collect all the magatama you need, you can finally face the monster of the week. You don’t even need to consider your health or energy resources before you challenge the boss. Both will be automatically refilled, making the game somehow even less of a challenge than it was before. 

    The Combat System Exists

    Loop8 Summer of Gods Gameplay Walkthrough
    These fights are both way too long and way too easy.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have very many nice things to say about Loop8‘s combat system. In fact, I’m almost baffled as to why it was even included in the first place. I have never seen a “game over” screen because of a combat encounter. In fact, the only time I saw a true “game over” screen was when a character decided to go full yandere on me and murder me so she could “keep me forever and ever”. That was about as random and hilarious as you might expect. 

    Anyways, the vast majority of the time I spent fighting was against bosses. I don’t even really understand the purpose of including generic mobs to fight. The reward usually isn’t worth it, and they present no challenge. To make things worse, there is zero enemy variety outside of the bosses. I am barely exaggerating. You will only encounter a few color variations of the same enemy that barely deal any damage at all. 

    Some of the boss designs are neat, but actually fighting against them is painfully easy and tedious. Long and repetitive combat animations drag out each encounter much longer than they should. I can guarantee you that you can win these fights blindfolded. In fact, there was at least one boss that dealt so little damage; I wondered if it was actually broken. There is an attempt at some unique mechanics here, but they aren’t even worth discussing when there is basically no need to engage with them. The only reason why the combat system doesn’t weigh heavier on this review is that it only takes up a small fraction of the game. 

    Loop8: Summer of Gods is a (Mostly) Pretty Game 

    The Oyama home
    In HD resolutions, 3D models look a little awkward on top of pre-rendered backgrounds.

    I have seen some confusion online about perceived performance issues with the game, but I can assure you that’s not the case. The limited frame rates on animations are an intentional stylistic choice. It’s an attempt to mimic the lower frame rates of anime for a more convincing style. Unfortunately, the confusion around this shows that the execution of this is a bit of a mixed bag. I appreciate the attempt, but some animations still look awkward, and this style has simply been done better in games such as Guilty Gear Strive

    Sure, I may have spent half my playtime on a PC with fairly capable specs, but I also got the chance to test the game out on lower-end hardware. Switch users will likely not have to worry about their experience with this game. I can say with confidence that this game will probably run on most potatoes you can throw it at, and that’s for a few reasons. First of all, PC users will notice the distinct lack of graphics options. You can change your resolution and toggle anti-aliasing, but there isn’t much to change besides that.

    The game utilizes a mix of small 3D environments and pre-rendered backgrounds, all separated by brief loading screens. Jumping between the two can be a little jarring at first, but I got used to it the more I played the game. However, I would’ve preferred if the game entirely used 3D environments so the character models would look less out of place in some scenes. However, I still appreciate the overall art direction of the game. 

    Some Additional Thoughts

    Loop8: Summer of Gods

    I was hoping to unlock some additional dialogue options after at least one loop, but this is not the case. Most loops are going to feel similar for the first little while. However, that’s not to say that the game doesn’t make any attempts to make loops feel different. The order in which you tackle bosses can change, and some characters seem to react differently depending on who you’re spending time with.

    However, I don’t feel very compelled to replay this game all that much because too much of each loop feels incredibly similar to what I played before. While there are incentives for looping, I found myself actively trying to avoid looping as much as possible. Perhaps it’s part of the game’s artistic direction, but looping to experience much of the same tedium comes across as a punishment instead of an interesting mechanic. 

    While I enjoy the interactions with several of the characters, the game’s overall story feels as if it lacks the impact it’s going for. Considering how most of the game’s lore is revealed in a non-linear fashion, I can somewhat excuse why this is the case. However, considering that the game’s story doesn’t have any particular pacing, it can make the story’s conclusion feel a bit rushed. 

    Should You Purchase Loop8: Summer of Gods?

    Loop8: Summer of Gods

    At its best, Loop8: Summer of Gods is a relaxing game with a great atmosphere and some enjoyable characters. There is also some replayability in the form of multiple endings and some of the game’s social mechanics if you can put up with the repetition. If that sounds appealing and you’re willing to put up with some tedium, Loop8 may be for you. However, for the vast majority of people, I believe Loop8 is going to be a hard sell. 

    Overall, I did enjoy my time with Loop8. It offered me possibly one of the most unique gaming experiences I’ll have in 2023, but that’s not without some heavy caveats. Unfortunately, the game suffers from some terrible balancing issues, and it just doesn’t quite live up to its potential. In a year that’s filled to the brim with amazing titles, it’s a shame that Loop8 will likely be unable to stand out. 

    Ashihara is small, and you may grow tired of seeing the same screens over and over again. The soundtrack is pretty decent, but you will be hearing many of the same tracks throughout the game. Loop8 is a game that’s simply attempting to punch a little too much above its weight. If you’re interested in picking up Loop8, it will be available June 6 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

    Disclaimer: XSEED Games provided Final Weapon with a Steam copy of Loop8: Summer of Gods for review purposes.


    Loop8: Summer of Gods is a unique and memorable game that unfortunately falls victim to some severe balancing issues. An intriguing world and likable characters are unfortunately not enough to make this a great experience. While it may appeal to some, JRPG fans looking for a unique challenge may want to look elsewhere.
    Itch has a strong passion for PC gaming and retro consoles (especially the Dreamcast). From Melty Blood: Actress Again to Forza Horizon, he will play just about anything that catches his eye. Ever since playing Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit as a young child, he has been in love with the medium of video games and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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    Loop8: Summer of Gods is a unique and memorable game that unfortunately falls victim to some severe balancing issues. An intriguing world and likable characters are unfortunately not enough to make this a great experience. While it may appeal to some, JRPG fans looking for a unique challenge may want to look elsewhere. Loop8: Summer of Gods Review - Shooting for the Stars