Updated: Sep 29
Developed: Arkane Studios
Release Date: Sept 14th, 2021
*Game provided to me by Bethesda
Deathloop is an action adventure shooter that is developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda. Coming off releases of titles like the Dishonored series and Prey, Arkane Studios attempts to give us a game that takes ideas from their previous creations and mixes and mashes them together to make one brand new experience, unlike anything we have played before. But do they succeed in giving us something super original or are we left looping through a constant pain of dissatisfaction like Bill Murray? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
Take on the role of Colt as you search for a way to put an end to a timeloop trapping Blackreef while being hunted by the island’s inhabitants. Use powerful weapons and abilities to take out eight key targets across the stunning and chaotic island before the day resets. Lurking in the shadows is rival assassin Julianna whose sole mission is to take Colt out and keep the loop going. Learn from each cycle, try new paths and approaches to break the loop once and for all.
So stop me if you heard this one. Man wakes up. Man finds strange things going on that he cant explain. Man dies and wakes up immediately after wondering what has happened and then realizes the same day is playing over and over. Sound familiar? well it should because that's the premise of many movie titles, such as, Groundhog Day, Edge Of Tomorrow and the recently released Tomorrow War. Now I know that sounds pretty unoriginal for a video game and I'll be honest, it really is. However, what sets Deathloop apart from other games and movies that use and fail with this same trope, is its overarching narrative and focus on you being a detective. Sure it still has the generic, die and repeat the day mechanic, but each new day you loop, the experience of each different day and level completely changes drastically. This is in large part due the two main characters, Colt and Julianna. Each character makes the different day loops feel like a new and authentic experience and it never feels like you're re-living the same day over and over when both of them are involved in their banter. I'll explain more in detail the further I get along with this review.
As you start your game, you're immediately shown Colt in a fight with Julianna and uh.. he's getting his butt absolutely handed to him and he is being murdered right before our eyes. Upon dying, Colt wakes up and is obviously confused about just what in the hell had happened to him? I could've sworn I just died he thinks to himself. As he makes his way off the cold beach, he begins to see specific objects he recognizes ,to an extent. Such as a walkie talkie that works as a hacking uplink that you can use to hack video cameras, as well as enemy turrets to either deactivate them or turn them on your enemies. As you continue the opening hours of your journey, which acts as your tutorial, your introduced further to the main character Colt, whos been trapped in ''the loop'' for an undisclosed amount of time that he cant seem to remember, possibly due to amnesia. While listening to banter on your radio from Julianna who is threatening to kill you over and over again because she finds it fun, you learn that you're in an area named Blackreef and Blackreef is NOT a very safe place at all, especially for you. All of the worlds inhabitants, known as Eternalists are out to get you and kill you, but none more so than your arch nemesis Julianna who makes it her mission to hunt you down daily, day or night to make sure you re-loop and never ''break the loop'', thus ending everyone's game of fun. Armed with a variety of weapons and an even deadlier mouth of profanity and arrogance, she stalks you at random through a various levels to try to tip you up. Now I'll be honest, this gave me total Dark Souls vibes and Its a mixed bagged to me. Sometimes it can be pretty intense and a lot of fun, but other times it just completely ticks you off because if you're trying to be sneaky on a hard mission, she completely ruins it all with her gun fire that alerts 10+ enemies in your area. What a damn jerk!
But yes I know you want me to talk about actually game play mechanics right? not some loud and obnoxious psychopathic killer. alright alright, we will. But don't worry were going to CIRCLE around back to that topic.. ha ha.. no? ok then loop back around? no? yup. alrighty then. As you begin your progression through the game, you will notice that will you be tasked with playing 4 unique levels. These levels consisting of The Complex, Karl's Bay, Fristad Rock and Updaam and each specific level having multiple sections to playthrough based off the time of day you play them on. ''Hold on?'' you tell me, ''there are only four levels in the entire game? really? Yawn fest. Come find me when you wake up!(from the boredom)''. Ok Emily Blunt. I am not Tom Cruise, so don't get that attitude with me sister. Four levels is not as short and cut and dry as it sounds, heck no, and this is because each of the 4 levels are also broken down into another 4 sections based off of Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Evening. Each one of these times of day completely changes the way the levels are structured overall. For instance on one level you will find the Eternalists at night living it up, dancing and having a grand old time at a party taking place in a hall of a castle, but if you go there in the afternoon or even the morning, patrolmen are there instead. This is where I feel most people are going to get the most amount of appreciation for this game, the overall details. No level feels similar, even if it is the same level aesthetically, just in a different time of day. Go to an area on one day and it may be sunny and green outside, but go back another day and time and it is now covered in show. Besides the level changes that happen in regards to those subjects, enemy placement also has a huge adjustment. Think of it as a rogue lite.. lite. Its rogue lite without leaning too heavy on the overall mechanic. One moment you can be blasting your way through hordes of enemies who are scattered all over the map like ants, but go back the next day and there's just some dude playing a guitar on the side of the mountains, rocking his butt off and damn, he's actually really good too. Which is why you must kick him in the back and send him flying to his death below because where I come from, that's the ultimate form of flattery. Don't agree with me? pfft I'll kick you too!
The mission selecting structure of Deathloop, if you don't actually pay attention enough from the get go, can actually get pretty frustrating and at times, even a little annoying. Yup. I'm talking about me. Each mission you partake in is structured in a tree like fashion with missions that branch off into small ones and ultimately lead to a bigger and final mission that involves you killing off the enemy visionaries. What are the visionaries you ask? The visionaries are an elite group of killers who wield special powers known as Slabs and each Slab gives you a different power to use to bolster your arsenal. As Colt, its ultimately your goal to hunt them all down and kill them and end this cycle known as '' The Loop''. Think of the movie Edge Of Tomorrow and how they use their knowledge gained off every one of their failures and use it to advance further in the narrative because they know what's going to happen. That's how it is structured here in Deathloop, it's Naruto without the clones. That doesn't sound annoying right? well it's not, when you pay attention. You see in order to gain access to further the narrative, you must select a lead from your visionary quest line and then hop into a specific day and time to fulfil an objective that you learned about from documents, computers, tapes and notes. My issue was that I just wanted to hop into game and kill. I only hear ''Kill the visionaries to end the loop'' and that's it. So as a complete dumb dumb I kept tracking quests specifically to kill visionaries and then having the day loop. I literally did this for TWO HOURS before realizing, Oh crap... I had to search the leads, investigate, put together clues and find secrets to actually advance the storyline. I'm literally repeating the same missions over and over because the day loops. OH...MY...GOD. I'm so stupid.
Once again this is what makes Deathloop so intriguing as a game. Sure, there might not be that many levels and their varieties aren't in the realm of vast quantity, but when you add in the looping mechanic with re-living the same day over and over, implement a detective feature that makes you scour each level in thorough fashion and searching every inch you can in order to find any clue to a visionaries weakness, their hiding spot, secret hideout, sabotage their plans and even make them kill themselves on accident by rigging their own projects, gives this game an Elder Scrolls Oblivion type of feel. Remember how being sneaky with the Dark Brotherhood was in that game? well think of that, but more jerkish and on a bigger scale. It's so dang addicting. What makes things even better is there is no set time limit to complete a level. Want to kill every single person there is on the map? go for it. Want to try to stealth and find all clues like a super secret detective without being seen? just like Darkwing Duck, you too can be the terror that quacks in the night. The amount of creative freedom you're given in this game is honestly very staggering. But don't get too complacent yet because Deathloop has far more to offer you going forward, so much so that it's really hard to express everything in a condensed fashion because trying to condense it all, feels like you're doing the game a disservice. It's a really strange feeling.
As you move forward in the narrative, you will pick up the ability known as infusion. This is going to be key to whether or not you have a good or bad time during your playthrough. You see, every single time you die in this game two times, your day automatically resets and you lose all weapons and upgrades you happened to pick up at that point in time. Play a half hour and die? say goodbye to everything you earned. Well that is unless you infuse your weapons, trinkets, slabs and other items with Residuum. Residuum can be picked up by absorbing power from any glowing purple objects, as well as from visionary deaths and Julianna. Collect Residuum and survive to the end of the mission and now you're allowed to use that as a form of currency to place onto your weapons and items. Once you manage to use it on trinkets and weapons you like, they will then stay in your inventory automatically, even after your day starts over. This is key to building your favorite loadout for Colt and allows you as the player to pick any play style you want. Whether you want to go in guns blazing with shotguns and rifles or take the slow and steady approach with silencer pistols. Freedom of choice is king in this title and is ultimately the main focal point that is front and center of your entire 20 hour journey. When picking up your residuum, make sure you are also on the look out for mini disc like objects laying on the floor, these are know as Trinkets and each trinket will offer you a specific upgrade when equipped. These upgrades range from maximizing your power and health, steady aim, shotguns and other guns shooting longer distances, double jumping, quieter running and many more. Seeing these discs laying on the ground though does make me very O.C.D. seeing it because it reminds me of me being over at my friends house and seeing their Playstation discs laying on the floor or coffee table and I'm internally screaming to myself ''FIX YOUR DANG GAMES, YOU'LL RUIN THEM, AHHH!''. Ahem.
Besides stronger weapons and upgrades via trinkets that you'll be able to upgrade to make your character even stronger, let me rewind time back to what I was talking about earlier in relation to Slabs. Slabs are another form of power up that can only be obtained by killing one of the visionaries, as well as Julianna. Once they've been defeated, they will drop one specific slab, which you can then equip to make traversing easier or even create some hectic moments. For instance your slab known as Shift, allows you to not only teleport to an area you have selected, but if you use it on an enemy eternalist, you will switch places with them entirely and if you time it right, you can make them fall in various hilarious ways. Other slabs that you are able to collect is an Ether slab that for roughly 5 seconds allows you to go completely invisible to either use as a means to escape a barrage of enemies or use in order to be super sneaky like the butler in Mr Deeds. Sneaky sneaky. It all depends on your play style. There's no wrong way to play this game. Now most of the footage I've seen from reviewers or streamers, I see them using all these amazing powers, pushing people off ledges, mind bending them, but me? I love the intense slow approach. I crouch and take every corner slowly, only using my silencer pistol to one shot people in the head and try not to raise any alarms. Utilizing the Ether slab and going invisible allows me to be even more like a ghost and sneak around enemy cameras or even combining both Ether and Shift together to silently move from the tops of buildings and go invisible to pick my spots and find the best way to kill my enemies. I'm basically a more gun toting Kevin Bacon from Hollow man, only not as incompetent. But not everything is as picture perfect as I'm making it out to be, sadly, I ran into some huge problems that sometimes took the fun out of it for me. Now it didn't kill ALL my fun, but more so killed enthusiasm at that point in time. I'll elaborate.
Towards the end of the game, you have a main objective of gathering all visionaries in one spot and killing them. This is the only way you can kill them all in one day to make sure the loop ends. ''This is the way'' so to speak. But the journey getting to this final point can get rather annoying. You see during the last half of the game, you are instructed to play all 4 levels once again and complete very specific tasks, all ending with killing one or many of the visionaries in one go because they all have to be killed the same day. Well you have to do all 4 levels in succession with two lives. Die twice and you have to go back to the main level selection screen and reset the day and repeat everything all over again. Yes that's right. Let's say you make it through the first 3 missions and kill like 4 visionaries and on the 4th and final mission to kill the last 3 visionaries, you die. Getting to this point isn't exactly a fast process, it can take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes to get to this point, however, should you die here, you have to go all the way back to the next day and re-do the previous 3 missions All. Over. Again. The same mission, the same tasks, all with two life bars. This can get extremely frustrating if you happen to just make a wrong jump or choice or even if Julianna shows up when you're in the middle of a level trying to survive and either she kills you or alerts 500 guards to kill you. But while that's annoying, the game breaking glitches are even worse. For instance during my playthrough I ran into 3-4 big glitches that either locked up my game mid mission that made me lose my progress, boot me to main menu and have me forever loop on the ''connecting to bethesda servers'' status and even locking up completely during the weapon and quest menu screens. It frustrated me soooo much. I have a few other gripes, but they aren't as big. I'll get to them shortly as I have a few more things I wish to cover before wrapping this bad boy up.
When you're done pushing your way through the main campaign your fun doesn't stop because this game is a game that is made with the idea of longevity in mind and then some. Even after completing your game, feel free to jump right back in and take on more quest leads involving weapons specifically to find stronger and more legendary weapons to bolster your arsenal even further than before. This also opens up the realm of possibility to grind out more residuum and collect all trinkets and slabs in the game until you're the ultimate being in the realm of Blackreef, so much so that even Julianna will ask ''ARE. YOU. A GOD'', which to that you better reply yes because you don't want to end up summoning a giant stay puft man, do you? even if he is soft, squishy and tasty. Besides collecting weapons, trinkets, slabs, you can find secrets throughout the world as well that you may not have noticed, things that are simple as seeing NPC's having unique conversations, dancing, playing guitar or just doing their own thing. Arkane Studios makes this game feel so alive and I still cant fathom how they achieved this. But the weirdest addition to this title for things to do after you beat the main story is to take on the role as the crazy Julianna. As Julianna, you enter a multiplayer mode where you're able to go Dark Souls on other players and enter their game to grief them. This is actually EXTREMELLY fun because she has the ability to disguise herself as any random NPC, so this will allow you to be a total jerk to other players and completely ruin their playthrough. I know I know, I was complaining about it earlier happening to me, but hey, its funny when its to them, so suck it up, buttercup, ''I'm a god, not THE god. I don't think''. I'm just like Phil Connors.
At the end of the day when its all said and done, Deathloop managed to blow away all my expectations for it. When it was initially revealed, It had my interest and I was extremely intrigued, however as time went on, we kept seeing it pop up at different events like Playstation directs and other places over and over to the point where it almost became like a meme of its own. We would literally say ''Well we can't call it a direct unless Deathloop is shown.'' It got to that point. However this game is anything but a meme or a joke. The blending of a narrative between Colt, Julianna, Eternalist, Visionaries and the world of Blackreef with the freedom of choice to play as you see fit, is masterfully done here. Even though there is only 4 unique locations spread out through 4 different times of day, the creativity, the rogue like enemy placement that changes based off the day, great use of your slab power that either makes you feel like an unstoppable machine or a silent killer that would make even Solid Snake or Sam Fisher envious and jealous. Sure, the game is not a perfect masterpiece due to some game breaking glitches that happen from time to time and some of the later missions becoming borderline tedious due to how many times you potentially have to replay the same area over and over and over, however, with Deathloop here, Arkane Studios has set the bar extremely high. This is not only in relation to their own personal game output but for any title that wants to take a crack at creating a game involving time loops. Due to its creativity and great attention to detail, Deathloop is gonna be a hard game to follow for any studio looking to create another shooter like it any time soon. It is HANDS DOWN one of the BEST games of 2021. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick Says BUY NOW