While plundering the Steam Puzzle Fest that’s on this week, I’ve been checking out a bunch of pure puzzle games I’ve not gotten around to looking at. After bouncing off a few, I found Loop, and immediately decided this is the sort of puzzle that my brain’s not designed for. 21 levels in, I was still certain of this, and yet kept completing them.
Describing how Loop works is, I’m convinced, harder than actually playing it. You have grids, on which are marked fixed coloured diamond-shaped slots. Also on the grids are coloured diamonds, which when you push left, right, up or down, move accordingly and simultaneously around the level. Except, if they’re at an edge, they’ll loop around to the opposite side. And the levels aren’t a set shape. The goal is to manipulate the diamonds into their matching slots, using the differing lengths of each row or column to realign the diamonds until they all fall into place. Now I have a headache.
What’s so fascinating about Loop (which is a terrible name for this game, not least when it’s already the name of a bunch of other games on Steam) is just how instinctive it is, despite looking like something requiring galaxy-brain levels of thinking. By the time it added a third colour at level 24, instead of jumping out a closed window, I thought: maybe I can actually do this.
A lot of the secret behind the success here is that solutions are never a thousand steps away. In fact, if you’re taking too many turns, you’re likely approaching it incorrectly. Each puzzle has an elegant, satisfying correct route, usually taking many fewer moves than you’d expect. Oftentimes the best method is to reset (which it does instantly: 10 points) and start over, rather than keep plugging away with a tangle you might have got yourself in.
Annoyingly, the game has shipped with no display settings at all, and no way to prevent it from trying to run at fullscreen (which on my ultrawide monitor saw the menus collapsing on themselves). However, for once this is a game that doesn’t override Steam’s overrides, so just right click it in your Library, choose Properties, and stick in “-windowed -screen-width 2560 -screen-height 1440” (or your preferred resolution) and it neatly obeys.
More than anything else, Loop is a dollar. In fact, it’s 90 cents this week, during the sale, just in case you needed 8p for something more important. That’s completely daft, and I’d have been delighted to have spent a fiver on this. This is very smart, very nicely designed, and gorgeously presented. The only negatives are the boring name, and the peculiar developer name of “Lofi Robot”, the trademarked name of a popular Polish robot construction kit.
- Lofi Robot