As a storyteller, time travel is always a tricky topic to tackle. Whether you’re crafting a two-hour movie or developing a large interactive experience, there’s a lot to consider. Are there blatant paradoxes that make the core concept too frustrating to be fun? Does it jumble the story and core experience too much? Is it even necessary? There’s a lot to consider.
But it’s clear that, when it came to creating the story behind Deathloop, Arkane Studios threw all caution to the wind to create a bonkers first-person shooter that only has one concern – give players a ton of different ways to kill their targets.
The 1960s setting of Deathloop is an alternate take on the New Generation, full of high-tech gear and bad guys in need of a good walloping. Players take control of Colt Vahn, an assassin tasked with slaying eight targets known as Visionaries by the stroke of midnight. The catch? If he fails, Colt’s day resets, and he must traverse the mysterious Blackreef Island right from the beginning.
Whether he leaves a target alive or falls victim to one of his many pursuers, Colt’s efforts are undone, and he’s back to square one. For players, it could be as frustrating as it sounds, but Deathloop offers engaging gameplay, a unique array of characters, and Arkane’s signature blend of gunplay and powers helps drive this shooter from a repetitious slog to something quite memorable.
As with most of Arkane’s games, Deathloop is a wonderful mix of fast-paced combat and careful consideration of which skills and abilities will get the job done. While firefights can ensue, Cole is also a master of keeping out of sight, which helps give him the time needed to decide how to approach each situation.
Fortunately, time is on the player’s side as there is no ticking clock. Instead, Colt’s day advances as players progress through the story, so choosing how to end the life of their targets can be done at the player’s leisure.
Time is definitely needed because each of Colt’s six skills is uniquely fun and functional. A few more skills would have been nice, though players get access to a new ability when playing as Colt’s antagonist, Julianna Blake, in the multiplayer mode.
Weapons & Abilities
When not slinging abilities at their foe, players will be manning an assortment of firearms. It’s not a large library, but guns like the large-calibre Rapier and shotgun-like Vopat Trencher lend a decent variety.
For a boost in variety, weapons can also be outfitted with modifiers, or Trinkets, that can increase reload speed, accuracy, and fire speed or add effects on enemies like delayed regeneration.
Even Colt can be equipped with Trinkets, which serve to increase his power regeneration speeds, maximum health, hacking speeds, and so much more. There are quite a few more character Trinkets to work through, and, like the weapon Trinkets, most have three levels that improve efficacy, so there’s quite a bit of customization to play with.
Storyline & Visuals
With games like Prey and Dishonored in its wheelhouse, Arkane has shown that it can weave complex and immersive narrative tales. Unfortunately, Deathloop’s story is among the studio’s weakest.
While it should feel unique, it’s easy to get a sense of familiarity, especially as the story takes a twist we’ve seen some iteration of before. However, Colt, Julianna, and the inhabitants of Blackreef are well-developed enough to keep players engaged as the story moves along.
Barring its occasional blips, framerate drops, and technical flaws that marred its launch, Deathloop is a smooth shooter with a delightful aesthetic. The 1960s setting wasn’t entirely necessary, but it certainly helps with a visual and narrative style that calls back to the classic spy movies of the era, complete with an appropriate soundtrack.
Blackreef is alive with all the expected elements of a secret base, and it creates an entertaining but challenging atmosphere with turrets, security doors, and rather obnoxious cameras. It doesn’t take much to fall victim to the other Visionaries, and caution is absolutely recommended when approaching an area full of hazards and enemies.
While the single-player aspect is the focus of Deathloop, Arkane developed a multiplayer experience that allows players to take control of Julianna. As the villainess, players enter another player’s game and do their best to keep Colt from stopping the time loop.
It’s not entirely game-changing, though Julianna does have a unique skill and there’s no real punishment for failure. When you die, you just jump into another game and wreak havoc.
Deathloop isn’t the groundbreaking next-gen needed to drive PS5 sales, but it’s certainly the kind of game every PS5 owner should at least try. It’s a beautiful title that uses the hardware wonderfully, though it’s not a remarkable increase from the height of last generation gaming. Abilities pop with sparks of colour, and the world is vibrant and well-textured, though the firefights could be a bit more impactful.
Arkane fans will absolutely sense the developer’s blueprint, though it’s not quite as strong as in Dishonored. That being said, if there were more content released or even a sequel, there would be plenty of enthusiasm to return. You should experience the game for yourself, stock up on your gaming products from OffGamers over here and get the game today!
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, also heading to Xbox in 2022
Reviewed on PC
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