Set in 1980s rural Japan, Loop8: Summer of Gods follows Nini, a young man with the ability to loop time. With the end of the world never more than five days away, will you be able to avert disaster and survive the summer in this JRPG from Marvelous/XSeed Games?
Loop8: Summer of Gods is a story of gods and possession. Despite initially seeming like a standard coming-of-age JRPG where Nini spends his summer break going to school and meeting new friends, it leans on horror elements to tell its story but mixes in a touch of unexpected sci-fi too.
We meet our protagonist as he moves to Ashihara Nakatsu to start his new life after an incident. There’s nothing remarkable about this small town except for one thing. God-like beings called the Kegai don’t attack it for some reason. Entire countries have been destroyed by the Kegai, so it did seem odd to me that this wasn’t highlighted more.
Almost as soon as we start the story, Ashihara Nakatsu’s safety is no longer guaranteed. A seal is broken, which starts a pattern of Kegai invading, possessing one of the residents of the town, and taking them to the underworld, Yomotsu Hirasaka.
Nini is blessed (or cursed) with an ability called Demon Sight and can perceive the other world, which has him called upon to dive into the underworld, help fight back, and either rescue or mercifully dispose of the possessed person. If not dealt with swiftly, the world will end.
While characters have their own stories, the overarching events of Loop8: Summer of Gods is extremely minimal in terms of plot. It’s essentially just the same event repeated six times, followed by a brief epilogue that depends on your choices. This certainly fits in the theme of loops, but don’t go into it expecting much of a story, despite it being a JRPG.
Residents of Ashihara Nakatsu
What story we are told is mostly explored through one-sided conversations with the residents around the town. Nini doesn’t comment on the loops, the Kegai, or much of anything aside from a few rare narrated lines. Instead, characters will talk at you, often dropping tidbits as if they expect you to already know them. ‘Secrets’ are obvious too; They’re essentially said directly most of the time, so there’s rarely a reveal that pays off.
I didn’t enjoy this style of storytelling. Even after completing the game, I feel like it barely explored the story. On top of this, there are no group conversations so we don’t get to see much about relationships aside from the odd comment a character has about another and very little is said about current events either.
The characters do have some charm to them and are one of the highlights of Loop8: Summer of Gods, despite a lack of depth. There are certainly some very unusual behaviors that don’t get explained, but Beni the foxgirl is adorable, Micchi is always angry but very worth getting to know, and conversations with Nanashi about his otaku interests are a lot of fun. I do wish each character had more opportunities to get to know them, but there are a lot of characters, so I understand why it’s not the case.
Some characters do get a little more attention than others. A number of them have a weakness in their heart that makes them vulnerable to possession, so we get to explore their hopes, dreams, and insecurities. It was fairly mixed though. For example, Machina reflects on her identity and purpose and came across as sympathetic, and Ichika’s dialogue shows problems with the world, while Kuni’s story wasn’t so strong.
Each day you’re given a limited amount of time to spend. There isn’t much to do in this rural town aside from speaking to the residents, a few activities, and on some days fighting the Kegai.
The vast majority of your time in Loop8: Summer of Gods will be spent in conversations with other characters. The main gameplay mechanic is building relationships with them, which comes down to your Friendship, Affection, and Hate stats. These go both ways interestingly, so someone can be much more fond of you than you are of them. The other residents have relationships with each other too.
These relationships do affect gameplay in several ways. Most notably, the better your relationship, the more success you will have in asking them to do activities with you and the more abilities your allies have access to. For possessed residents, it’s particularly important to have good relationships, for a reason best explained in our guide of Loop8: Summer of Gods.
While the conversations themselves can be mixed, I did appreciate the gameplay mechanic used. It gives you a range of options, with more available depending on your relationship. Each one costs different amounts of energy/stamina, has a different level of success chance, and has different relationship effects.
If you fail, then it can harm your relationship. The more times per day you try, the higher the chance of failure. These work together to initially stop you from grinding relationships and introduce a risk factor. It works well at first but does fall down in the latter part of the game, for reasons related to looping.
Dating, Working Out, and More
Some conversation options trigger cutscenes. These are limited, so a character might only be able to study with you three times, then the option disappears. It’s a nice way to get to know them more though.
As a fun feature, you can invite people on a limited number of dates too. This includes even several characters you’d not expect, such as an elementary school girl, a directly blood-related character, and your perverted male friend. The dates generally aren’t taken too seriously with these characters though.
I was surprised at the inclusion of the male friend who explicitly mentions being bisexual. Another character is adopted by two dads. These kinds of relationships don’t often appear in JRPGs, so it was nice to see something non-standard.
Grinding Those Stats
Want to take a break from chatting? You can choose to skip time by doing an activity for a stat boost. These help in combat and to get more stamina/energy. Some are a little difficult to find but are listed in our guide. There’s no real gameplay to this. It’s just finding the object, interacting with it, then it skips time and gives you a stat boost.
Some of the conversation options link into stats too. If you ask someone to work out, you’ll both benefit from a boost in strength and agility. There is no traditional leveling up in Loop8: Summer of Gods, and this helps you not only strengthen yourself but also the allies you bring with you.
As well as this, stat and relationship increases can come from blessings. Hidden around the town are several objects (again, mentioned in our guide) that can be visited daily for a chance to receive a bonus. It did get somewhat tedious to repeatedly visit these, day after day. On a more positive note though, asking characters to go on a walk and visiting these spots could award them blessings, so made it feel like there was a reason to spend time with them.
Visit the Underworld
Unlike a standard JRPG, Loop8: Summer of Gods features very little fighting.
The basic flow is that there are five days until the world will end. A character will be taken to the underworld around day three. You have until the end of day one to rescue or kill them. Whichever day you do this, it then starts the next sequence of five days. The order of possessions isn’t set.
Each time you dive into the underworld, you’ll need to collect one to six magatamas and put them into the slot in the boss portal. These are found in portals that you interact with. Aside from the rare battle, these are just stat checks. Interact with the portal and if you pass, it’ll drop a magatama. There are more magatamas than slots.
Theoretically, you only have to fight the bosses if you’re lucky, but there are smaller battles dotted about too if you interact with enemies. The only benefit to this is potentially collecting blessings.
The battles themselves feel quite basic, despite some mechanics around mood and relationships. You and up to two allies can fight, but you cannot control your allies and your own moves are quite limited. To make up for this, your Demon Sight lets you predict enemy and ally moves and choose your own. On the downside though, the ally AI makes illogical choices like buffing themselves when a single attack would finish the battle.
At first, bosses feel like they can be overcome via careful planning, skill, and maybe some luck, but later it’s easy to just attack mindlessly and win even against the final boss. It’s a letdown. Permadeath is included (until a loop) which adds a risk, but again doesn’t matter much later on.
Looping for Boredom and Power
If you don’t defeat the boss in time, if you talk to a character and choose to, or in most cases when you die, you restart a loop. This has you start again from the first day.
Stats and relationships somewhat return to their starting point, but boosts from blessings carry over. On top of that, any stats previously gained are regained at twice the normal rate. When you know what you’re doing, this can quickly lead to becoming overpowered.
This is a very interesting mechanism, but unfortunately, it’s mostly let down by a simple fact: repeating the same thing over and over is boring!
Loop 2 might be interesting. Suddenly a standoffish character like Micchi might be much more open to talking and we can see new events. Loops 3, 4, 5, and so on are less so. I’d already gone through almost all of the dialogue by then. To restart building the relationships, I needed to skip through tons of dialogue that I’d already seen for every single character, which involved talking to each one for about ten minutes each time. There are a lot of characters and building new relationships with everyone is needed for every loop, so this really detracted from the experience.
The loops sometimes cause consistency issues too, like a rather standoffish character telling me that we’re close when I speak to them for the third time or telling me they love me on day one.
Bosses became barely worth it too. By Loop 3 I’d taken out early bosses in a couple of attacks. I finished on Loop 5 with maximum stats and the final boss was a breeze.
I mentioned consistency issues with loops, but they were elsewhere too. Characters acting as if they hate you, even if you have their relationships maxed out or a character saying “our relationship isn’t as close as I’d hoped” when it’s at max are two examples.
Character movement is an issue too. Each one is somewhere on the map, such as the school, or main street. But this doesn’t always follow logic. They might walk out of one area, seemingly going to the next, but instead, they’ve disappeared. On occasion, they just suddenly disappear after talking to them too. Or they’re behind me walking to class, but when I arrive they’re already there. On that topic, there are just little things like the classroom being difficult to move in. I’ve gotten ‘trapped’ so many times due to too many desks and the area being full of characters.
One particularly annoying minor issue was an extremely sudden unpredictable game over. It was triggered by a conversation with someone who I had a positive relationship with, not a battle. Luckily, unlike regular game overs, it didn’t trigger a loop.
Just something I personally didn’t like too, was that I couldn’t completely control who I got into a romantic relationship with in Loop8: Summer of Gods. It directly says there’s no choice, and this can lead to multiple relationships at the same time.
Visuals and Audio
In terms of world design, as someone who has lived in rural Japan, it does feel to me like it captures a lot of the atmosphere. It felt like I recognized a lot of the elements as similar to places I’d been before.
The 3D models look quite nice when in a closeup view, though they do suffer from a jagged outline when shown walking around the world. They make good use of movement to add a sense of life to them, typically with an expression or position change per line.
Loop8: Summer of Gods features both Japanese and English audio, with the game being partially voiced. I played primarily with the Japanese-voiced option but went through one loop in English.
I felt the Japanese audio was better, but I do generally prefer that in most anime titles. The voices all fit the character well, and some of the enemy lines added well to the creepy atmosphere.
The English dub I felt was more mixed. Beni’s voice actor fits the character well and gave a good performance, but some of the others felt somewhat wooden. The little messenger voice was particularly high-pitched and annoying in the English dub. It does feature some voice actors from anime that I recognize the name of, like Christina Vee and Crispin Freeman, so it has got recognizable talent onboard.
One annoyance that did stand out in the English dub was notable lip flapping in English, continuing long after the voiced line has ended.
Loop8: Summer of Gods has an interesting concept and some great characters that give a good reason to play it. My first impressions were actually quite positive and if my review was based on the first ten hours, it would probably be a 7/10 due to some great character moments and idea of growing stronger through loops. Unfortunately, the issues with gameplay and systems that came to light over the full forty-five hours it took to complete, and the method of storytelling make it difficult to outright recommend.
WAIT FOR SALE ON LOOP8: SUMMER OF GODS
Many thanks go to Marvelous for a PlayStation 4 review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.