The idea of living the same day over and over is a nightmare for most people. Having to hear the same conversations, see the same routines; it’s no wonder Phil went crazy in “Groundhog Day”. That is the basis of Arkane Studios’ Deathloop. Released on September 14th, 2021, it takes the concept and turns it up a notch. As a fan of Id’s Wolfenstein and someone with experience in Arkane’s Dishonored, I was more than eager to give this title a go. This is my experience on the strange island of Blackreef.
We’re introduced to our protagonist, Colt, in the most abrupt way possible. After encountering a mysterious lady who shoots him dead, he wakes up on a beach with no memory of how he got there. He assumes he just had a crazy night out; but shortly after coming to, he’s contacted by the woman, known as Julianna, and informed of his situation. Somebody has built an island where the day repeats endlessly, and our pal Colt is out to stop it, for reasons unknown to him at first.
After trying and dying several times over, the ins and outs of the island become clear. With only 24 hours available, Colt must stop the cycle of Blackreef’s looping day. To do that he must eliminate the island’s 8 visionaries, a group of intellectuals hell-bent on living forever, no matter the cost. While you’d think it possible to accomplish in one day, locating and cornering your targets proves much more difficult. Matters are made worse with Julianna popping up to eliminate Colt from time to time, sometimes under the control of another player. The writing is superb and the characters themselves are very well written. This story is an absolute trip and a blast to play through, and it’s only made better with the gameplay.
Deathloop isn’t your standard fps campaign, and that becomes apparent rather quickly. You’re thrown into the world of Blackreef with only Julianna’s voice to guide you. Not the most encouraging beginning, but the pieces fall into place rather swiftly. If you’ve played either of the Dishonored games, much of Deathloop will feel natural. You even acquire powers that can strengthen your abilities as you defeat each of the visionaries, much like in the games’ predecessors.
The combat in this game is among some of the best I’ve experienced in an fps in the last few years. Sneaking around and silently taking out guards just feels right, and zipping around like a superpowered badass is just as enjoyable. You’re given free reign over how you approach each objective and confrontation, and it works well. The mechanics go a lot deeper than combat and exploration. The way you plan these missions is unlike any I’ve seen before.
Mind if I Keep This?
In a time-loop you’d think everything returns to its rightful place at the start of each day, right? Well, sort of. Everything and everyone that is stuck on Blackreef Island contains something called residuum, a kind of supernatural element. This functions as a currency that can make weapons and upgrades permanent for Colt. You gather this by interacting with items that are stuck in time, from killing visionaries, and from scrapping loot.
This main gameplay loop can be described as a single player extraction shooter (I use that term loosely). You enter an area, search for clues and equipment, possibly assassinate a visionary, and disappear into the tunnels beneath the island. There you plan your next move and spend the continuum you gained to add your loot to your arsenal. As I mentioned before, sometimes you’ll have to fight another player and unlock the tunnels to escape. This added to the extraction shooter feel for me. After hours of going through this cycle, I can’t say I ever got bored. It stays fresh through the agency it gives the player, and I’m here for it.
Sound and Graphics
Like Dishonored before it, Deathloop fully embraces its art style and time period. The music has a funk to it even during combat, adding a nice groove to the background of your journey. The voice acting is great, and the actors seemed to be having a good time in the recording booth. The visual aesthetic is beautiful, and quite honestly what made the game stand out to me.
Vibrant colors juxtapose the partially destroyed locales, and the cultist enemies feel similar with their bright paint and masks. It captures the feel of a fantastical universe without looking like a sort of caricature of real life and people (something I wasn’t the biggest fan of in Dishonored, but that’s just my opinion). The graphics as a whole look amazing, but that’s to be expected with a game that released exclusively on the new generation of consoles.
Deathloop is a phenomenal title with a great premise. Its gameplay makes for great short gaming sessions, and there’s enough to discover to keep the gameplay fresh for hours on end. However you choose to explore Blackreef and eliminate all the visionaries in one day, you just might find yourself restarting the loop time and time again anyways. Today is tomorrow. It happened.
- Addicting gameplay
- Beautiful scenes and aesthetic
- It’s a great, fun take on the fps genre
- Well written story and characters
- Can be confusing at first
- Doesn’t have a sequel yet