Dr. Faux is on the loose. He has built a crazy and terrible time machine and with the help of his clones is causing chaos across time and space. Through the ages, clones of Dr. Faux are pushing his agenda to execute project Omniscience 2000 and aims to become the master of the universe. As a member of the Agency, you are a legendary agent and must work together with your fellow agents to stop the fiendish schemes of Dr. Faux. Utilise powerful yet "quirky" artefacts to repair the rifts in time, complete missions and destroy Dr. Faux's clones.
About The Game
The Loop is a cooperative deck-building game for one to four players designed by Maxime Rambourg & Théo Rivière and published by Pandasaurus Games. In the Loop, you play as a temporal agent travelling through time and space to stop Dr. Faux. Each round is made up of several phases. At the start of the round, Dr. Faux drops off new clones, drawn from a bag, into specific eras of time. New artefact cards are revealed and Dr. Faux activates in a specific era. Rift cubes are added to a tower and are spewed out in three possible eras. If a particular era ever has a fourth rift cube added a vortex is created, these are bad. Two vortices in the same era are an instant defeat, the addition of a fourth total vortex is an instant defeat.
After Dr. Faux has activated it is the player's turn. They can move to an adjacent era, activate their three cards in their hand by exhausting them or perform a Loop. All cards are assigned to a particular elementary dimension (or a suit). By spending an energy cube players can ready exhausted cards from the same dimension and use them again on the same turn. Players can perform any number of actions any number of times in any order they wish. After the players have had their turn, they can add an artefact card to the top of their deck if there is one available in their era. Next, they can complete a mission if all of the relevant stages have been achieved and gain rewards. Finally, they discard their hand, and all players draw up to three cards.
The players lose the game if a second vortex is added to an era already containing a vortex, a fourth vortex has to be placed or Dr. Faux reaches the end of his third cycle (effectively goes through his deck three times). The players win if they complete four missions (in the Sabotage mission).
There are a number of different missions to complete in the game and only two are visible at any one time, there are four different scenarios to play and five different agents all with a different starting deck of cards and special abilities.
From the quirky theme and artefact cards (who doesn't love maintaining the space-time continuum with a "Double Joystick" and a "Strawberry Doughnut"), the cooperative nature of the game and the tension from the rift cube tower drop, The Loop has a lot to offer. Cooperative deck buildings are always a hit with me, and The Loop is no exception. The looping mechanism in The Loop lets you loop (ok, that is too many loops, looped together) your actions together and is, in all honesty, such a simple yet wonderful thing to do.
Loop Da Loop
Each agent gets their own deck of starting cards and a special ability. There are five in the game so there is some replayability and variability right from the start. There are four different scenarios to play, ranging from the low to hard complexity adding even more replay value to the game. On top of that, the deck of artefact cards is a decent size and varied. The game has a lot of replay value and variability which is going to give you a different feeling game each time and I love it.
The main actions you can do are fairly straight forward and for the most part, the game is pretty easy to teach. But how you string your actions together, in which order you activate your cards and when/if you perform a loop is where the meat of the game comes. You need to do a bit of firefighting if one era is close to getting its max rift cubes. You need to advance the missions as this is the way you win the game. But you may want to try and end your turn in a specific era to gain a useful artefact card. You may want to activate particular cards to set up your teammates for the powerful turn. Clones may be building up, so you need to try and push them to a particular era to remove them. There is a lot to think about and yet it doesn't feel overly complicated. The main gameplay is pretty smooth and flows nicely.
I love the little bit of chaos that is thrown into the mix with the rift cubes in the cube tower. The cubes are only going to spill out into either the region Dr. Faux is present in or the two adjacent regions. But depending on the game state this can create some tense moments as you are hoping that the cubes fall the right way to not trigger a vortex. This little bit of (what I like to call) controlled randomness can make for some hold your breath moments as the cubes tumble into the tower. Gameplay moments like these are what I like the most about The Loop. Irrespective of which way it falls it creates moments/memories which is what gaming is all about.
The artefact cards are very quirky and really cool. Fighting clones with a Strawberry Doughnut or a Sniper Shotgun is just fun. Adding energy to an era with a Timenado or pushing a clone with a Brutal De-Localiser (aka a boot) is, again, just fun. I don't like using the word fun a lot in a review as everyone's opinion of fun is different, but I really think this is the best way to describe The Loop. One of the most satisfying things to do in this game switches a dire situation into a more favourable situation with the loop mechanism. It feels so good when you move, activate a card to push and remove a clone, spend energy to move again and remove rifts from each adjacent era and activate another card to add more energy. You then use this energy to perform a loop and activate your cards again. You can create some pretty exciting and powerful turns.
The missions are varied and are often related to normal in-game actions, like performing loops in certain eras or ending your turn with two players surrounding Dr. Faux etc. They are not overly complicated to understand but can be a challenge to complete. There are 10 in the game, and you use 7 each game with only two revealed at a time, so there is some variety.
There is so much that I love about this game. It is easy to get to the table, offers a lot of replay-ability and variability and plays pretty quick. The solo mode is great, either playing true solo or multi-handed with the two characters. Yes, there is some randomness, and I would keep the player count down to solo or two players to avoid downtime. I can't get enough of The Loop at the moment and everyone that I have introduced it to has had a blast playing it.