Tales from the Loop Review

Tales from the Loop - Free League Publishing - ~45
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Game title: Tales from the Loop

Game description: In 1954, the Swedish government ordered the construction of the world’s largest particle accelerator. The facility was complete in 1969, located deep below the pastoral countryside of Mälaröarna. The local population called this marvel of technology The Loop.

Overall
4.3
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Beneath the Swedish Mälaren Islands and Boulder City, Nevada lay secret scientific installations, both only known as The Loop. Each Loop contains an experimental particle accelerator used for all sorts of experiments. Strange things tend to happen in and around The Loop, whether it be in Sweden or the US. As kids in the 80’s, left mostly unsupervised, it’s up to you to root out the answers to various troubles and mystery affecting your home town. Of course, there’s still homework, hormones, and parents to get in the way.

Pros

  • Amazing art
  • Quality lore
  • Outstanding production

Cons

  • Narrative roleplaying may not be for fans of crunchier RPGs

Full Tales from the Loop Review

Beneath the Swedish Mälaren Islands and Boulder City, Nevada lay secret scientific installations, both only known as The Loop. Each Loop contains an experimental particle accelerator used for all sorts of experiments. Strange things tend to happen in and around The Loop, whether it be in Sweden or the US. As kids in the 80’s, left mostly unsupervised, it’s up to you to root out the answers to various troubles and mystery affecting your home town. Of course, there’s still homework, hormones, and parents to get in the way.

Based on the sci-fi art of Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop offers an alternate 1980s, much like our very own, but with robots, levitating vehicles, and other retro-futuristic technologies. Reading through the book will feel very familiar for those who grew up in the ’80s, yet different enough to be slightly unsettling. This version of the ’80s makes for fantastic lore to build incredible stories.

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Tales from the Loop uses Free League’s Year Zero Engine. A narrative-based RPG engine that uses several d6s based on a character’s core stats. A roll of a six on any die is considered a success. You can even push your luck with another set of rolls, though 1s on those rolls now count failures leading to worse consequences. It’s a clean and straightforward system that doesn’t get in the way of a great story, even winning Forbidden Realms a Platinum Pawn last year.

Tales from the Loop contains everything you need to play in the territories around either the Swedish Loop or the US Loop, including four different adventures that tie together and can run in either locale. Players can choose from various child archetypes such as the Bookworm, Computer Geek, Jock, and more. There’s no player death, but the kids can become Upset, Scared, Exhausted, Injured, or even Broken, each providing its own set of negatives to their rolls.

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Narrative roleplaying isn’t for everyone, especially those used to crunchier, more numbers-based RPGs. Still, there’s a lot here to love and I urge even the most hardcore stats-lover to give Tales from the Loop a chance. There’s so much to love about this book and it strikes a nice balance between story and mechanics.

With Simons art, the narrative work of Nils Hintze, and Free League Publishing’s Year Zero Engine and outstanding production values, there’s no way Tales from the Loop could be anything other than a fantastic product. Those things combined with a price point lower than most RPG hardcovers of its size, there’s no reason not to own this book.

A copy of Tales from the Loop was provided free for review by Free League Publishing

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