I have always found time loops to be an exciting concept. Between Looper, Groundhog Day, and Edge of Tomorrow, the time travel genre seems completely exhausted. Deathloop is the latest medium to put a spin on the concept, and while it doesn’t feel entirely original, it does a fantastic job of keeping you glued to your seat.
Deathloop has been everywhere the last few months, and Arkane was so confident the game would be a hit that they explained the plot before the game was even released. You play as Colt Vahn; a man stuck in a time loop repeating the same day on the same island over and over again. To break it, Colt must kill eight victims — also known as Visionaries in-game — within 24 hours. It all seems pretty straightforward.
Blackreef — the island you are located on — is a cold, dark, gritty former fishing outpost located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, soaked in graffiti and blood. Deathloop draws significant influence from James Bond in both the ’60s aesthetics and the upbeat soundtrack that plays when tensions are high. However, I wish the trailer song, Déjà Vu, played in every scene because, well, who doesn’t like that song.
“There are no difficulty settings in Deathloop, which leads to a few issues.”
The day is split into four quarters, representing various times of the day. There are also four areas on the island of Blackreef; The Complex, Karl’s Bay, Updaam and Fristad Rock. Colt can access each zone through a network of tunnels. Therefore, travelling to each stunning area at different times of the day offers a unique experience. Enemies will move positions, and some areas will be inaccessible or different than another time frame.
Deathloop has a lot to unpack in the prologue. Fortunately, after it finishes, you are free to do as you please. However, if you plan to uncover the mystery of killing the visionaries on your own, well, you can’t really do that. Deathloop is, surprisingly, quite linear. There are set missions you must pick in order to progress in the story. Therefore, you can’t go off and do what you want when you want and expect to figure it out on your own. Instead, Deathloop holds your hand and tells you exactly how to kill all eight visionaries. While this is nice, it did make the game start to get a little repetitive, especially when the AI is incredibly basic.
There are no difficulty settings in Deathloop, which leads to a few issues. Moreover, snooping around Blackreef feels a little dull when the enemies barely notice you and drop like flies as soon as you fire your weapon. Even killing some Visionaries feels anticlimactic when all you have to do is walk behind them and kill them in a single blow. My gun would often take out enemies with ease, but that isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable.
“It feels like a missed opportunity to not include multiple melee weapons.”
While there aren’t many varieties of different weapons, gunplay in Deathloop is incredibly satisfying. The game contains a single type of standard weapons; submachine gun, pistol, shotgun etc. On top of that, you will also find different colour rarities, with Orange being Legendary and the rarest you can find. White or common weapons feature the unique, widely advertised trait of gun jamming. Unfortunately, this is entirely over-marketed and, apart from the first weapon you receive, you find better gear on your first day on the island. Initially, it does feel a bit clunky, but when you start to deck out your weapons with unique trinkets, guns tear through enemies. If you mix this with a heavy aim assist and some powerful abilities, you’re in for a world of enjoyment.
Arkane has implemented the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality for Deathloop. Shift is similar to Blink, and Nexus is alike to Domino from Dishonored. Luckily, it still works. Like Dishonored, it still feels empowering chaining enemies together and taking them all out with the flick of your wrist.
However, it feels like a missed opportunity to not include multiple melee weapons. You start with a machete, and even though you can select what type of machete — preorder variant or original — it feels pointless having the option. Deathloop would have benefitted from additional melee weapons that could have provided different takedown animations. Although a machete is a great weapon, a blunt weapon could have provided some much-needed variance.
“This is a cat and mouse situation, and it’s definitely more suited to players than AI.”
Throughout Deathloop, you are also tormented by Juliana, the Visionary who is hell-bent on protecting the loop. She stalks Colt through the DualSense’s speaker, commenting and criticising him every step of the way. This rivalry and banter give the game life, and the character cast feels a little thin without it.
The chemistry between the two even continues into each level, with Julianna having the ability to show up randomly while you are exploring Blackreef. She is more challenging than any other visionary, but she’s nothing to worry about. Fortunately, this rivalry gets an added boost by allowing players to control Juliana and invade other players’ games. As Juliana, you must take down Colt by any means necessary, and you even have some abilities of your own. This is a cat and mouse situation, and it’s definitely more suited to players than AI. With your fixed reprise ability, you can die up to three times in a single instance in the day. Therefore, you shouldn’t have too many issues taking down other Julianas as Colt.
Playing Deathloop on PlayStation 5 also offers haptic feedback. Colt’s footsteps are replicated through vibrations, and the adaptive triggers provide resistance, adding weight to the weapons. This is not quite as proficient here as in other first-person shooters, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
Deathloop is a good game that I highly recommend checking out if you are a big fan of Hitman, Dishonored or Prey. While I don’t find it as enjoyable as the Dishonored series, it’s still a must-play game for anyone into stealth shooters. It’s well worth the triple-A price tag.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS5, code was provided by the Publisher.