There sure happen to be considerable time loop games recently, huh? This year alone we’ve gotten 12 Minutes, The Forgotten City, Returnal, and now Deathloop. It feels like we’ve been seeing Deathloop trailers for forever at this time, but now that the game is within our hands, how does it endure? Deathloop has that Arkane flair that everybody was expecting it to have, however the studio really went above and beyond with this game.
Deathloop is a first-person shooter from Arkane Studios, the developer behind the acclaimed Dishonored series. You play as Colt, a guy stuck currently loop on the mysterious island called Blackreef. The only chance Colt has of smashing the loop would be to kill eight specific targets called Visionaries prior to the day ends and everything starts throughout right from the start. It’s much more complicated of computer sounds, especially because he’s also being hunted with a rival assassin named Julianna the whole time. Solving this murder puzzle is the core of Deathloop, however it isn’t as easy as running and gunning through Blackreef until you find the correct people.
Because of the whole time loop thing, you are able to only visit a lot of places during the day. Each loop is split up into four parts: morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Which means you can only continue four missions each day. With four missions and eight targets, you’re going to have to get creative with your approach. There is also three lives during a loop, then you’ll be delivered back towards the start of the day. Revisiting areas, learning schedules, and discovering new information are key to solving the puzzle.
There are just four playable locations on Blackreef, but they change with respect to the time of day you visit them. This is the most interesting bit of the puzzle. Places feel very different in the morning versus the evening, and looking after something earlier in the day can have ripple effects through the remaining loop. For example, one of the Visionaries throws a celebration each night inside a region called Updaam. A few of the other Visionaries are extremely busy to go to, unless Colt frees up their schedules by sabotaging the work they do earlier within the day. Small things like that can cause multiple Visionaries to end up in the same place at the same time, bringing you a measure closer to killing all eight in a single loop.
Of course, all locations feel unique because of Arkane’s level design prowess. These are the Dishonored devs, and it really shows. Updaam is the most Dishonored-like level with windows to climb through and rooftops to sneak across, but all four levels are a joy to explore. You are able to really visit a lot of Dishonored’s DNA in Deathloop, but it still feels fresh because of its unique style. The decision to make each level smaller but with different variations depending on the time of day is brilliant. There’s no wasted space, and you can get acquainted with layouts and shortcuts very quickly.
You’re not likely to break the loop on your first try, however, you don’t have to start fresh every day either. You can carry over weapons and abilities between loops by infusing them with a currency called Residuum. You can harvest Residuum from certain items found throughout levels, but many of the Residuum will come from slain Visionaries. At the end of a loop, you can spend whatever Residuum you have to permanently add something to your arsenal. The sport isn’t stingy with Residuum and you may find some pretty great weapons at the start of the sport, so I were built with a solid selection of weapons and powers inside my disposal after just a few loops.
While I went into Deathloop expecting top-notch level design and a beautiful world to explore, I wasn’t expecting to be hooked by its story and characters. Discovering the reality of times loop and being familiar with the Visionaries is interesting, but Colt and Julianna are the heart from the story. There is a much friendlier rivalry than I was expecting. Despite the fact that Julianna is continually attempting to kill Colt, the 2 are actually playful and flirty with one another. They recognize that the stakes aren’t really that top since death just means they reach do that all over again tomorrow, so that they have some fun with it.
Julianna is much more contained in the storyline than I thought she'd be too. She calls Colt at the beginning of every level and can comment on your actions whenever you reach song of the story. More often than not she’ll just tease Colt, but in other cases she’ll casually drop vital plot-relevant information on an impulse. She’s a fascinating character, and learning more about the dynamic between her and Colt is definitely one of the best reasons for Deathloop.
Julianna can also be area of the game’s most interesting mechanic: invasions. Julianna can appear at any time throughout a loop to try and kill you, but she can be controlled by another player if you’re playing online. When she appears, Colt is unable to leave the region until he hacks a special device, trapping the happy couple in a cage match. The sport doesn’t tell you where either player is, so it’s a tense game of cat and mouse. Julianna typically won’t end your run because the chances are skewed in Colt’s favor because he has three lives and she has one, but she can absolutely ruin your plans.
I thought PvP invasions would ruin the knowledge, but they’re actually one of the best parts of Deathloop. They really make you appreciate Arkane’s brilliant level design much more, because each location not only needs to function as an interesting single-player level, but also a rather balanced PvP arena too. Also, both stealth and action are viable choices for coping with invaders. If you’re a stealthy player, you can just sneak over and hack the unit, finish off your objective, and then leave without being seen. If you’re moving in guns blazing, then you can take Julianna head-on. Invasions don’t feel tacked on. Instead, the whole game feels designed around them.
Playing as Julianna is a ton of fun, too. I only likely to do a couple of invasions to try out the PvP for the purpose of this review, however i wound up sitting there for hours killing as many Colts as I could. I felt rewarded for all the time I put in single-player because I knew all the routes and objective locations to search. Every player plays differently because the game allows for so many different playstyles, so no two invasions feel the same. Would you place mines in a shortcut that you know most people will most likely take? Would you wait on a rooftop with a sniper rifle until Colt walks to your crosshairs? Would you just run at him with a shotgun? There’s a ton of depth to Deathloop’s PvP mode, and that i can’t wait to see the plans people develop as Julianna.
Deathloop is just an all-around amazing game. The amount design is great, not surprisingly, but Arkane has truly improved upon its formula in each and every way with this particular game. Whether you need to play this as a stealth game like Dishonored, play an action-packed first-person shooter, or simply want to notice a great story, then Deathloop will accommodate you. Deathloop takes Arkane’s fantastic level design and world-building and adds a fascinating story with great characters on the top, causing you to be in a time loop that you simply won’t wish to break.