PAX: Loop8 truly believes in the power of friendship

Loop8 Summer of Gods

Or, you know, the power of pettiness

Social links are a popular tool in modern RPGs. But Loop8: Summer of Gods doesn’t just settle for a side serving of socialization. Rather, Loop8 builds its house atop the bedrock of friendship, affection, and yes, even hate.

Developed by Marvelous and published by XSEED, Loop8: Summer of Gods is a “coming-of-age” RPG set in the quiet rural town of Ashihara, in August 1983. You are Nini, a “newly earthbound” teen. And it’s one month until the world ends. You and your friends must loop through the eighth month of the year until you either overcome the Kegai, an otherworldly threat, or humanity becomes doomed.

It’s a really high-concept set-up for the story that, in all honesty, I’m still not 100% clear on. The mixture of time-looping and alternate-world monsters felt like something that I’d probably understand a bit more in the full game, rather than the quick 20-minute demo I got on the showfloor of PAX East 2023. What I did look at, and what has me eager about Loop8‘s potential, is its social system.

Friends ’til the end

A core part of Loop8 is forming and reinforcing relationships with others in town. I saw this right away when, as soon as I launched into the demo, I was tasked with getting an ally to help me take on a formidable foe. I needed to recruit the right person, and crucially, it wouldn’t be based off their level or experience.

Rather, Saru—my demo-chosen companion—was effective because of his relationship with the person we’d be fighting. This was the first hint of an overarching theme, as different characters’ relationships all intersect with each other in good or bad ways. A special screen showed the bar chart of everyone’s feelings for each other, with varying intensity levels of Friendship, Affection, and Hate.

Image via XSEED

The extra twist was that to add Saru to my party, I needed to actually find him. The different cast and party characters all wander around the town on their own schedule, doing their own thing. So for a short spell, I ran around a few areas, trying to pick up his trail and catch up to him. It might seem annoying, and heck, it could be in a full game.

But this, combined with the heavy reliance on social links, gave me an appreciation for how Marvelous is making social interactions a pillar of Loop8. It felt very centralized, in a time and place, in a quiet town where there’s still a lot happening if you go looking. It’s got real summer vacation vibes going, in a way I instantly connected with and enjoyed.

Image via XSEED

Battle your pals

Things got a little stranger once I moved towards the combat section. I should note here that there’s a slight stuttering to Loop8 at times. I couldn’t tell if this was a specific choice to emulate film or TV, or just a tech thing. Either way, it was noticeable, though it only really felt in a bad way during fights.

Once it was combat time, I went straight to the boss—I was on a time crunch, after all—and started the battle. Here, fights got a little interesting; rather than controlling the whole party, I just issued orders to my own character. Saru and my fox-maiden pal did their own thing in a system that instantly made me recall original Persona 3.

Image via XSEED

That said, you can intuit what your character can do by focusing on the emotions in the air. Little quotation bubbles will give you a sense of whether someone will go on the offensive or throw some support. I didn’t love this, but it wasn’t the worst, and it did play into Loop8‘s  “relationships are important” drive. Different skills can be augmented with emotions too, either driving up the enemy’s rage or calming it, or doing bonus damage based on the typing.

I do wish I had more to work with in my section, as I had a slim set of skills. Characters are set to develop more powers and grow over time, so hopefully there are more tools to deepen combat once you’ve gotten to know everyone in town.

For now, Loop8: Summer of Gods is an interesting curiosity to me. It combines the summertime vibes of a rural town with social sim constructs to inform its time-looping narrative. Whether it clicks into place or not, it won’t be long until we know for sure.

Loop8: Summer of Gods arrives for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam on June 6.

About The Author
Eric Van Allen
Senior News Reporter - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.
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