Review of Deathloop
Yo, what's up, guys? Today, we're talking about "Deathloop." This is a Bethesda and Arkane game, and it's a timed PS5 exclusive that's also on PC. Now, we've been playing a review copy of the game, and this footage, so you know, is spoiler-free and captured on PS5. Straight up, I enjoy "Deathloop" a lot. It's got some weird issues, and your level of tolerance for some of those things might differ based on your preference, but ultimately, I came away surprised by just how much I enjoyed this game. The setup seems a bit confusing, and I'll take some time to explain it, mainly because when I first heard about the gameplay loop, when it was described to me, I was like, eh, I don't know about that. That doesn't sound that good. But it turned out to be a great experiment because it's more straightforward than it seems, but it's fun. So in it, you are Colt, and he's this guy trapped in a time loop on this mysterious island of Blackreef. He has one full day, and everything is reset when he wakes back up on the same beach. Same if he dies. He dies and lives again. The entire island is filled with these crazy murderer people, partiers and mad scientists, and the eight leader Visionaries, who all maintain this never-ending time loop. The only way to break the loop is to kill all of them in one day.
How to play Deathloop?
The Visionaries appear in various places at various times, and the game's full-day loop is essentially structured in chunks. There are four reasonably large playable, explorable maps that you load into, and every time you load into the next one to do something else, it progresses the time of day. So when you're in gameplay, time doesn't move forward. It only moves forward in this structured, menu-like way. So you can load into a map during the day and explore and find goodies and stuff, and then load back in at night or a later point, and it's different, and maybe an enemy set up shop or something like that, and there's more… You get what I'm going for there? So the different times of day and all the enemies that you have to take out and then move around, it seems like it's almost this super open-ended thing, almost Hitman-style, and it half is.
The game almost overexplains itself to you at the start, but once you get going, it gets more simple, and most importantly, more fun. Essentially, to make progress in this game, you can track and follow different kinds of leads. You can click on arsenal leads in a menu and track and follow to get more excellent and more powerful weapons and super special abilities called slabs. Then there is information that leads you to follow and work through, and this progress the story, build out the world and information and allows you to access new areas, do different things, or learn how to draw out or take out someone in a particular way. All of it sounds a bit different, but what it does is it encourages getting to learn the ins and outs of all the levels. There are tons of secrets and side things to pursue and just things being different at different times of the day. Every new mystery or lead or whatever you follow, any time spent in any of these areas, always ends up rewarding for a while because you're working to improve your character and your stuff.
Weapon & Abilities System in Deathloop
So even if you die or you end a day, you don't have to lose all of your stuff if you're good enough. You can collect currency to spend on infusing certain items and upgrades, which allow Colt to keep them, even after the loop resets. The prices are often steep for some of the stuff. If you want to infuse a weapon so that you get to keep the weapon for the next loop, you got to put a lot into it, and you are going to have to make decisions a lot of times. You're not going to be able to get and take everything you always want, but it makes for a satisfying loop, for lack of a better word, a gameplay loop. You're collecting different weapons with different perks and rarity levels. You're also picking up weapon trinkets that are attachments for your weapons to allow for stuff like greater accuracy, less recoil, and weirder things that are fun to discover. Then you also have your perk attachments for Colt himself that give him faster sprints, an excellent old-fashioned video game double jump, faster health regen, stuff like that.
Then, for your super abilities, the slabs, you can eventually give them an extra one, like a bonus or ability to make them stronger or completely change their purpose. So with all of that being explained, yes, I found the game itself fun because sometimes you're just going back to kill a boss again to upgrade one of your abilities, or you're going back to open up a safe that you found the code for on your last loop. The way the game encourages screwing around is just enjoyable. It always manages to feel productive, even when you're not necessarily gunning for the main thing. The best part is that the whole thing, the entire pursuit through the loop over and over and over again, the one thing that you get to keep that's more important than just a gun or a trinket or a little booster is actual information, knowing what's going on in the world, learning a new secret and all of it being tracked in your in-game journal.
Now you have the option to play things sneaky or go in guns blazing, and both work pretty well. The shooting feels pretty damn good. It's an upgrade for Arkane with loud, chunky guns, good feedback, and some cool sound effects. We did play the PS5 version. We're not the best with the controller here. We were hoping we could play it on a mouse and keyboard because this game style begs for that type of thing. But the sniper is the one thing that doesn't always feel the best, but otherwise, shotguns and stuff, blasting dudes, all of that stuff does feel great, especially combined with those slab abilities, some of which might be familiar if you play "Dishonored."
The shift is essentially like a teleport or a blink, which immediately opens things up to you, creeping around on rooftops and getting into all kinds of crazy trouble. You can go invisible, and you could do a force push or a slam, you can chain enemies together so that if you kill one of them, they all die together, all stuff that encourages a little bit of messing around in the world and seeing what happens. Colt is highly agile and fast and can do cool melee kills or shotgun blasts while zipping up to rooftops and tossing grenades or setting off hacked turrets. It can be a lot of chaos, and it's fun to watch it unfold because it's just so fun to play. Some of the guns are creative, too. I wish there were a few more.
Battle System in Deathloop
Now, if you're looking for it to play exactly like "Dishonored," like even the… I mentioned those abilities, and I wouldn't say to get your hopes up. It's not as elegant as "Dishonored" or "Prey," but it is more bombastic and wacky. Stealth is simple here, not a lot to it, but it's effective and guns blazing. Not too much to it, but it's satisfying, and in the hands of the right player with some good slab abilities and skills and weapons, it can be pretty awesome. You've probably seen the trailers where players make these crazy kills with the abilities, or they're just doing hyper-accurate headshot shooting and all that stuff. You can pull that stuff off in the game, it's not false advertising, and it's pretty fun when you do. That being said, the enemy artificial intelligence is usually really, really bad. They're pretty dumb to sneak around and are so easy to just kind of bait in some shootouts. You can die pretty quickly here, but you can also just kind of cheese your way around some shootouts and blow enemies away. Sometimes, it's embarrassing, and I think they're going to have more of an issue with it for some players. This is the thing I mentioned early on. This is one of the bigger flaws. Many other things are going on in the game, so I understand why maybe artificial intelligence didn't get the biggest focus because, at the end of the day, they're just mindless fodder in this stupid world. They know that the time will reset, and when they die, they're going to come back, too.
But still, I think it's worth mentioning. At the very least, I usually play stealthily. So if I'm head shotting you from a rooftop with a silenced pistol, I don't care how smart you are, but thankfully, the Visionary AI seems to be a bit stronger than Julianna's, which let me explain her. So there's a woman tied to Colt in the story named Julianna, who also messes around with the loops, and she's been hunting you and killing you for a long time. So every so often in a world, you'll get a notification that Julianna is here and hunting you down. This is usually another player playing as Julianna. Sometimes it seems like it can be artificial intelligence as well. And just so you know, you can change your settings so that you can only be invaded by friends if you want and not randoms, but this works as a great shakeup to whatever you're trying to do in a map. It's like an extra level of chaos because she can show up and screw you over, and you can't technically leave the map until you take her out.
Thankfully, you can get killed twice and bounce back. It's kind of like a story thing with Colt, whereas you need to take her out once, and then it frees you up to leave the map again. And if that player Julianna happens to have a sick gun, then it's yours, and that can shake things up. It makes for some great cat and mouse games in the maps, which are very well designed for, very intricate, and encourage that stuff. Sometimes, you get killed in a bullshit way or a sniper hit to the head, and you don't know where she came from, but it's always pretty cool. I don't usually like these mechanics much in games, but I like how it works here. It's only annoying once in a blue moon. And so on the flip side, you, you can choose to back out of the menu and choose to defend the loop as Julianna, instead of breaking the loop, and you can match-make into random people's games or your friends'.
Julianna is like a separate thing, with her items and unique abilities to send enemies towards Colt's location and disguise herself as an NPC. It doesn't work the best because players have to look for an NPC that's acting weird, but in some contexts, it's fantastic. Playing as Julianna is fun for a little temporary diversion if you want, but more importantly, it's rewarding to the main game. Julianna has her achievements and scores to work through and check off lists and earn points, and you can get more stuff for your main game, like skins and weapons and whatnot. I got cool skin for my Colt. The game wants you to play as her sometimes because the rewards are pretty generous. Story-wise, you'll notice I haven't mentioned much yet because the gameplay is front and centre here. There is a story, and how it unfolds towards the end and all of the science stuff behind all of it, it might not be the most fantastic thing, but the characters within it, specifically Colt and Julianna, is where the game shines. They have some damn good voice actors. Some of the writing can be a little awkward, but it's surprisingly funny when it hits. There's some really good, funny moments and some good, heartfelt moments throughout, and a lot of the exchanges are just perfect. The only other issue I had with the game were some bugs.
Sometimes in the menu, it would hang up when I paused the game, and it would get stuck in pause and then I would have to restart the game. Also, the occasional frame drops on the basic 60 FPS mode on PS5 are a little disappointing, and screen tearing during some cutscenes was pretty weird to see. Despite that, this is a game I enjoyed for the layers and the absurdity. It's like "Dishonored" -lite with an emphasis on screwing around more and murdering dudes just for the sheer fun of it. It's all designed like a bit of complex Rubik's Cube, with you slowly finding and locking in abilities and weapons and shortcuts around the map and ultimately how to beat the bad guys, but it does it in a way that's not entirely open-ended. It's got just the right amount of guidance to keep things always interesting without always just wholly holding your hand like a baby. Do you know what I mean? You're going to be getting through this game anywhere, roughly, from like 12 to 20 hours, depending on how much exploring you do, how much invading you do, any side stuff, how you take your approaches.
In the END
Some people play these styles of games slowly with stealth. Either way, this is a game where I thought the vibe and the violence were excellent, but I was sceptical of how it was structured, but after playing it, I'm glad I've been proven wrong. It's creative and ups the fun factor. I don't know if it'll be considered Arkane's best game, but it's another weird and risky one, and I enjoy it. But, of course, that's a "Before You Buy." I'll give you some pros, cons, and personal opinions, and now I want to hear yours down in the comments. Were you looking forward to this game? Maybe it wasn't on your radar at all. Did you not understand how the game worked? Did I explain it, okay? Perhaps now you get it. There's a lot to say about it, and thanks, guys. See you next time.