|Publisher||Visual Arts (Windows)|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch|
A young Tyler Akira hears a story from his mother about a magical item that's power grows whenever it is given to another person. Later on, Tyler meets a young Mia Fujikawa in the hospital; The two play hide-and-seek and Tyler gives her his favorite eraser, encouraging her to pass it on one day.
Several years later, on August 1st, Tyler goes geohunting and runs into two old classmates, Hilda Kiriko and Leona Machimura. Tyler and Hilda bond over a shared love for geohunting and Tyler recruits the girls into helping him with his current hunt. While searching in a park, Hilda is frightened by the Sagashi-Onna, a spirit said to wander in search of her heart. Leona successfully finds a geocache and Tyler goes home shortly afterwards. On his way home, he stumbles across a murder and chases the assailant, Simon Takaaki. Once cornered, Simon remarks that it is unusual for Tyler to pursue him and Tyler is suddenly knocked out from behind. Meanwhile, Hilda and Leona visit a convenience store and Leona experiences a bizarre personality shift that results in her being hospitalized. As Hilda returns home, she has several visions of the deranged Leona. That night, Hilda is awoken by a strange voice inside her head. She panics and accidentally pushes her father down a flight of stairs, killing him. Hilda leaves her house and wanders the streets until 5AM. When she returns home, she finds father alive, with no memory of what happened.
At some point in the daytime, Tyler goes out geohunting and is struck with a sense of deja vu, culminating in him "finding" the same geocache he found the day before. He checks his phone and finds that it is still August 1st. He meets up with Hilda and the two conclude they have gone back in time; however they haven't gone far enough back to undo Leona's hospitalization. The two visit Leona at the hospital and run into Simon and Mia, who explain the concept of the Temporal Spiral: a localized time loop that occurs as a type of natural disaster. The current Spiral is in Japan and endlessly repeats August 1st; those caught in this Spiral will retain their memories across loops and are a part of Simon's group, the Loopers. Simon introduces the two to the other members of the group: Joe Kirishima, Holly Sana, and Ritapon. There are also three other members of the group, Leona, Kuro, and Kai, but all three are currently in comas at the hospital. Simon explains that the mental strain of the Spiral leads to members eventually being put into comas from dying too often or going insane.
Tyler experiments with the limits of the loop, including using Simon's credit card for a shopping spree, free-climbing apartment buildings, and attempting to impress Mia with an elaborate treasure hunt. Throughout this time, Tyler and the other Loopers have run-ins with the Sagashi-Onna, explained away as "temporal echoes" from the real world that occasionally manifest inside the Spiral. Later, Simon reveals to Hilda that, even if they escape the loop, precedent indicates that it will likely take Leona several years to wake from her coma. This causes Hilda to desperately attempt to wake Leona from her coma. After 115 loops pass, Simon tries to tell Hilda to give up on saving her, however Tyler convinces him to go along with a scheme to wake her by digging up and reading a time capsule they buried in elementary school, thus stimulating pre-Spiral memories. This successfully wakes Leona.
Some time later, Simon manages to compile enough data to predict the next appearance of an exit portal out of the Temporal Spiral. The group spends the next several loops preparing for their escape. The day prior to the portal's appearance, Tyler and Mia go on a date where Mia asks if he would prefer a treasure hunt with a definitive end or one that goes on forever. When the portal appears, Simon, Joe, Hilda, Leona, Holly, and Ritapon escape. Mia refuses to leave and reveals to Tyler that she created the Spiral in the first place. She runs away and Tyler reluctantly enters the portal.
Once in the real world, the Loopers reconvene and find a letter from Mia. She apologizes for abandoning them and confesses that she suffers from severe hypersomnia due to Kleine–Levin syndrome. Having reached the latter stages of the disease, Mia would likely fall into a permanent coma if she didn't undergo a dangerous brain surgery. As a result, Mia wished to live in a world that looped forever. Believing herself responsible for the Spiral and fearing the likelihood of her death in the real world, Mia chose to stay in the Spiral.
Mia spends several more years inside the Spiral, growing increasingly despondent due to her isolation and regretting her decision to remain. In the real world, Tyler becomes determined to save Mia and learns from Mia's mother that Mia's wish for the Spiral was a result of his meeting with her in their childhood; Mia had placed Tyler's eraser into a geocache and it had subsequently changed hands countless times, eventually gathering enough magical power to create Temporal Spirals. Tyler recalls that the story of the magical item includes a warning that its magical power will vanish if it returns to its original owner. Mia, inside the Temporal Spiral, hears of Tyler's plan via temporal echoes and realizes that the Sagashi-Onna the group had encountered several times was actually herself, searching for the eraser.
In the real world, the Loopers recruit as many people as possible and search for every geocache they can in hopes of finding the eraser. Meanwhile, the Temporal Spiral begins to crumble as Mia searches for the eraser herself. The Spiral is slowly reduced to nothingness, with both Tyler and Mia finding the eraser in the moments before the Spiral completely vanishes. The two are able to confess their love to each other before Mia vanishes with the Spiral. Tyler and Simon visit Mia's body at the hospital, which has fallen into a coma. Tyler vows to keep his promise to her to live his life to the fullest.
In a post-credits epilogue, Mia wakes up some time in the future. She reunites with the other Loopers and begins a relationship with Tyler.
Development and release
Following Key's previous success with the production of two prior visual novels termed "kinetic novels"—Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet (2004) and Harmonia (2016)—since their gameplay offers no choices or alternate endings, Loopers was one of three kinetic novels announced in October 2020 alongside Lunaria: Virtualized Moonchild (2021) and Stella of The End (2022). Planning for the project began with video game director Kazuma Takada and producer Tōya Okano, the latter of whom has been credited on the staff of Key's visual novels since providing scenario assistance with Air (2000). The game's motif was built around the concept of treasure hunting, specifically geocaching. During a production meeting, Okano suggested the idea of a geochache containing a human finger, adding an element of horror to the story. In keeping with Key's main theme of making the end user cry, the concept for Loopers was solidified around "treasure hunting, horror and crying", to which Takada suggested Ryukishi07 of 07th Expansion be brought in to write the scenario. Ryukishi07 had previously worked with Key on the scenario for Rewrite (2011) and its fan disc Rewrite Harvest festa! (2012) because of his reputation as a horror writer.
Ryukishi07 used his experience as a horror writer, along with his recognition as an author who uses time loops in his stories, to repeat the same day in the story at given intervals as the plot progresses. As he had plenty of time for the development of the game's plot, he was able to carefully write it while continuing to discuss it with the production staff over the course of its development. In contrast to his work on Rewrite, which he views as having been written with a certain youthful vigor, he sees Loopers as a culmination of everything he has cultivated as a writer, making it his most carefully written story to date by his own admission. In keeping with Key's brand image, Ryukishi07 restrained from making the story too horrific, opting to give it a mysterious feel with a story that is 70% tear-inducing and 30% horrific, as well as making it suitable for all ages. However, some of his suggestions for horrific elements were rejected by the production staff as not being compatible with Key's image.
Ryukishi07 had not initially been familiar with geocaching when brought onto the project, and he even tried it himself with a geocaching app to get a feel for the treasure hunting process. In researching geocaching, he did not want to sully what is what he refers to as a "fun treasure hunting game," leaving out anything too extreme as a result. Ryukishi07's aim was to write a plot that was a balance between what fans of Key have come to expect from the brand and what he as a writer chosen specifically for the project could bring to add unorthodox elements not normally seen in works produced by Key. He was also attempting to write a story that worked best as a kinetic novel as opposed to a visual novel adventure game. It took him a long time to remain faithful to the story of Loopers while also adjusting its orthodox and unorthodox elements.
Kei Mochizuki is the art director and character designer for Loopers. In production meetings about what art the game would have, there were discussions about how the typical art style Key has used in their games up to now would not be the best fit for a scenario written by Ryukishi07. As a result, Takada suggested to go with Mochizuki because of her distinct art style described as not only stylish, but that which also incorporates moe elements into it to make her character designs both cool and cute according to Ryukishi07. At the time, Takada had been looking forward to what he termed a "large chemical reaction" that would occur from bringing together two creators who have very distinctive styles.
Key released a free game demo on April 26, 2021 on the game's official website. Loopers was released on May 28, 2021 for Windows in Japan. Three editions were released: a download edition just for the game itself, a limited edition, and a more expensive special edition that comes bundled with more content. Both physical editions came bundled with the game's original soundtrack and a full color art book. The special edition was also bundled with an illustrated acrylic plate, a metal key-shaped charm, a Loopers badge, an illustration signed by Kei Mochizuki, and a special card featuring the main characters.
Loopers was also ported to iOS and Android devices in Japan on July 20, 2021. Prototype released a Nintendo Switch port worldwide on June 2, 2022 with text support for Japanese, English and Chinese.
- "Visual Art's/Key Announces 3 New Kinetic Novels". w:Anime News Network. October 27, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
- "Keyキネティックノベルプロジェクト「LOOPERS」竜騎士07スペシャルインタビュー" (in Japanese). Visual Arts. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
- "丘野塔也 関わったゲーム一覧" (in Japanese). ErogameScape. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
- "Rewrite Production Staff Special Interview". Key 10th Anniversary Book (in Japanese). w:Kadokawa Shoten: 8–13. 2009.
- "Rewrite+" (in Japanese). Key. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
- "Rewrite Harvest festa!" (in Japanese). Key. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
- "Key, Ryukishi07's Loopers Kinetic Novel Gets Switch Release With English Text This Year". [[w:Anime News Network|]]. February 5, 2022. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- "Key開発日誌（高田）" (in Japanese). Key. May 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- "Download" (in Japanese). Key. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- "Shopping Guide" (in Japanese). Key. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- "LOOPERS -ルーパーズ-" (in Japanese). Planet Media. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
- "LOOPERS for Switch launches June 2 in Japan, includes English subtitles". Gematsu. February 23, 2022. Retrieved February 26, 2022.