"DEATHLOOP" - Break Or Protect The Loop
If At First You Don't Succeed, Die, Die Again
Arkane is Back
"DEATHLOOP" is a first-person shooter by Arkane Studios, the same team that developed Dishonored and Prey. Published by Bethesda Softworks, "DEATHLOOP" was released on September 14th, 2021 for Windows and PS5.
Hitman Meets Dishonored
"DEATHLOOP" takes some notes from Dishonored, Hitman, Outer Wilds, and We Happy Few. Playing at first as amnesiac Colt, gamers will soon find themselves stuck in a time loop on the lawless island of Blackreef. The one way to break the time loop is by killing eight "Visionaries" in one day, despite being spread across the island.
Where "DEATHLOOP" differs from other time loop games is that everyone on the island, despite reliving the same day, retains their memory from previous loops. In this way, information becomes of the utmost importance and will lead players on an in-depth investigation into the world and people around them.
Concept Rating: 4/5
Stuck In The Sixties
The residents of Blackwater are stuck in a 1960's aesthetic, with all technology from the same era. This might remind some players of We Happy Few, especially with the masks NPCs wear. The atmosphere that this creates works surprisingly well for "DEATHLOOP", and feels natural enough to walk around. As is to be expected from Arkane, the world is intricately designed, with plenty of attention paid to detail and character.
"DEATHLOOP" has a soundtrack that will adapt to how sneaky or openly combative the player is, with rocking guitar riffs ready to sound or cease at a moment's notice. This elevates adrenaline-rushing combat encounters to the next level, making you feel even more powerful than you already did.
The voice actors - Jason E. Kelley as Colt, and Ozioma Akagha as Julianna - are crucial in bringing "DEATHLOOP"'s characters and stories into the spotlight, and they do an excellent job. The chemistry between Colt and Julianna is more than believable - it's compelling. Had the story and concept of "DEATHLOOP" had to stand on its own without such well-written and voiced characters, it would have fallen flat on its face.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 4.5/5
An Intricate Piece of Clockwork
"DEATHLOOP" starts players with a linear tutorial that runs for a couple of hours of play-time, which can feel like a bit too long. After this, however, players are free to roam the lawless expanse of Blackreef to their heart's content. A saving grace for such a lengthy tutorial, however, is the game's endless wit and banter between Colt and Julianna. Both characters are spectacularly written and voice acted, helping drive forward the intrigue and tension.
While players might be anxious about a ticking clock counting down to the end of each day (and thus the end of each loop), Arkane has made the vitally beneficial decision to instead divide each day into four time periods: morning, noon, afternoon, and night. Players can stay in each time period for as long as they want, giving them ample space to explore the one district they choose for that time period.
Each loop can be reset by playing through to the end of the four time periods, or by dying three times. Each reset strips you of your inventory, including your weapons and powers. However, any information you learn stays with you, and items can be retained over loops by gathering and spending Residuum. This mechanic encourages you to experiment with different weapons and combinations of powers, helping you fine-tune your play style that you'll approach the end-game with.
The concluding chapter relies heavily on players having picked up hints and clues throughout the game, which can be easily missed since they're not mandatory to find. This lessens the potential impact of the game's climax, so to avoid a let-down, players should pay close attention.
Once out of the tutorial, players can choose to play not only as Colt but as Julianna. Playing as Julianna will allow you to "invade" other people's worlds, which is an exciting twist to the game, and does a better job for the feeling of a cat-and-mouse chase than an AI might be capable of. If players want, they can opt-out of being invaded altogether or limit invaders to friends only.
Gameplay Rating: 4.5/5
When All's Said And Done
"DEATHLOOP" is an intricate puzzle to be solved, with combat and dialogue that doesn't take itself too seriously. With fun characters and a new take on time loop gameplay, "DEATHLOOP" offers something new and exciting to experience.
Replayability Rating: 2.5/5
Fans of Dishonored looking for a good time and a layered mystery to uncover will be delighted to jump into the world that Arkane has created with their latest game, "DEATHLOOP".