Interest in the concept of time loop-centered games seems to be at an all-time high this past few releases with the emergence of high profiles titles such as “Twelve Minutes” and “Returnal” that garnered quite the attention. Out of all the time loop-centered titles, Deathloop, developed by Arkane Studios, seems to be the most ambitious one yet, featuring a unique plot concept along with its interesting mix of gunplay and intricate mystery. Although sales upon the release of the game were not mind-boggling, the game still solidified its mark in 2021 by winning The Game Award’s Best art direction of the year and Best game direction of the year and with it being chosen as Gamespot’s game of the year. So today, we look at how exactly Deathloop stands out among the already complex array of time loop games, and if it is for you.
Live, die, repeat
The cycle of chaos and exploration is set in an alternative 1960s and takes place over the course of a single repeating day on a mysterious island called Blackreef. You will be playing as Colt, an assassin who aims to kill eight targets that keep the time loop together across the island all within a single day to break the time loop, once and for all. Faced with the problem of the targets being spread apart in different areas, you must plan and find a way to kill the eight targets within the day through rounds and rounds of exploration and experimentation.
The action aspect of the gameplay is composed of using stealth, parkour, offensive skills, guns, gadgets, hacking, and supernatural powers. You would have multiple options in executing your mission such as quietly taking down enemies using an assassin style, razing through enemies in face-to-face gunfights, or sneaking past every enemy with distractions. Deathloop has an open-ended gameplay that allows players to progress in the story using whatever playstyle they want. At the end of the loop, all that matters would be the information gathered that would help kill the targets next time around.
Clues and details across time and space
The map of Blackreef is divided into four districts, with the game being divided into four time periods of morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Along with changes to scenery brought by changes in time are changes to details per district, such as the number of enemies and places you could only go through at specific time periods that really display the time and space aspect of the game. This makes the game unique in facing one of the issues that most time loop-based games commonly face, which is the problem of loops getting increasingly rigid and repetitive as players progress through the story. These different time periods make sure that the thrill of exploration is maintained as players explore the same place but different time periods.
As players progress through exploring the different districts at different times, clues and information seem just seamlessly to fit together and form the bigger picture. This goes to show how extensive the writing of Deathloop has been and how well put together these clues and information were despite being across time and space. Personally, this aspect of spreading clues and details across time and space perfectly complements and makes use of the time loop concept.
Multiplayer: Loop Invasion
Another aspect that makes Deathloop unique is its implementation of the multiplayer option of protecting the loop. After a player has progressed enough through its story, this mode will unlock, enabling them to play as the main antagonist, Juliana, in other players’ timeline loops. Juliana appears at completely random times wherein the otherwise A.I. controlled Juliana would be controlled by the player, hunting Colt down and preventing him from breaking the loop. Through this mode, players can choose to mess with their friends or completely random people as they attempt to accomplish nail-biting missions. Likewise, this would present an interactive gameplay wherein a player would abruptly face other players through Juliana as they try to progress through the game.
Should you try it out?
Living up to Arkane Studio’s ambition for an endlessly complex time loop-based game, Deathloop is successful in implementing a unique plot along with a fascinating blend of fast-paced gunplay and freeform exploration. Coupled with its interactive multiplayer mode, Deathloop can be said to be deserving of being Gamespot’s game of the year. Picking up this game almost seems imminent for mystery and shooter games at this point. Adding the striking 1960s art style and feel in addition to its immersive gameplay makes it a high-tier recommendation for players looking to immerse themselves in a time loop of chaos.
However, the game is not without its flaws. There is the issue of adequately tracking every clue and information obtained wherein specific information and clues are hard to retrace, making it vital for players to truly comprehend and memorize information that they have gathered. Furthermore, the end task of plotting the eventual perfect murder day would require precise planning and diligent note-taking, which may not be of satisfaction to everyone.