Do you know of 1992’s Groundhog Day? It’s a masterpiece. A tale of one man trying to better himself as the same day repeats itself over and over. It’s the perfect drama, comedy, and love story that shows a very detailed character arch of intense development. Now imagine that, but with guns, gore, and crazy trinkets that make you double jump and kick enemies off the top of Cliffs.
I present you DEATHLOOP.
Arcane are masters of First-Person adventure games with a twist. With over 20 years of experience and some of the best First-Person adventure games, such as Dishonored, Prey, and the Classic Arx Fatalis. So will DEATHLOOP be their masterpiece in the making, or should we wait for Red Fall to come out?
Read on.What is DEATHLOOP
DEATHLOOP centers on the life of Colt. He’s a man trapped on a mysterious island with no memory of how he got there and who he is. But worst of all, the island is home to some extremely unpleasant and unstable people who relish in the fact, that the island is their perverted paradise, where Colt is the enemy. But it’s not all bad, as Colt can relive the same day over and over with no hope of escape…
That is the worse part of Colt’s day actually.
Colt is trapped on the island with all types of deranged killers, and a tormentor named Julia who seems to know more about Colt than he does. So, it’s up to Colt to figure out the mystery and what is happening on the island. But more importantly, he needs to break the loop and do so, he needs to take out the 8 heads of the island.
The Visionaries are the leaders of the island and Colt needs to take them out as quickly as possible. But he only has one day to carry out his kill-list. Otherwise, the loop begins again, and he ends up right at the start. But with each loop, Colt can learn more about his enemies, acquire new abilities and weapons that will help him take out the Visionaries quickly and more efficiently.
Can Colt take out all 8 Visionaries within 24 hours? Can he learn the patterns of his enemies, figure out an effective way to kill them all off, and all the while not falling for death himself?Story
DEATHLOOP has a very captivating mystery, and one constantly gives throughout the adventure. While much of it has been seen and done before, such as the TV shows Lost and The Prisoner, DEATHLOOP unravels its mystery very well. Small snippets are revealed each time you enter a loop and engaging with each Visionary allows Colt to learn a bit more of himself. There are plenty of documents to find that reveals the lore of the island, each of the Visionaries about the mysterious tech behind the deadly time loop itself.
Much of the information is extremely well hidden and to expand your knowledge not only of the resources that can help you but about the island and much more, you must do some digging. The investigation side of things is what keeps you invested and piecing everything together and doing so in what feels quite natural is why DEATHLOOP’s narrative is so engaging.
Colt himself is a very likable guy and one you do feel for during the venture. Things start off with him fairly confused as you might expect, then him joking and putting on a brave face before feeling the weight of the situation towards your victory. I sadly didn’t feel Julia was a good counterpart and just feels massively more like a spoiled brat. Which she ends up being really. If Julia was more antagonising in a meaningful way, she would be an ideal villain rather than a spoiled and annoying brat.
The end also feels a little underwhelming overall as well. Not to go into spoilers, but I had hoped with the amount of lore and character development for Colt, it would bring a more interesting conclusion or revelation to the tale of DEATHLOOP.Gameplay
Colt starts each day with a massive objective – to kill 8 powerful individuals on the island of Black Reef within 24 hours. However, each of the Visionaries is located on different spots on the island at different time. They also harbour some extreme powers and defences that Colt must deal with, along with dozens of their deranged followers as well. So timing is key and learning about your enemy is most important.
So each “Loop” will see Colt and players searching the island of Black Reef for clues and leads for new gear, weapons, perks, and weaknesses on the Visionaries. Hoping that after enough Loops and searching, that he can plan and carry out a swift hit on all 8 Visionaries and break the Loop once and for all.
The day will start, and players can explore the several sections of Black Reef during different parts of the day. These locations include the picturesque cliffside town of Updamm, an old WW2 bunker known as the Complex, a fishing Port that feels like an amusement park called Karl's Bay, and Fristad Rock which houses a massive swanky mansion and another underground bunker.
Most sections of the Black Reef can be explored at any part of the day, from the morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Exploring each main area of the island during a different part of the day will reveal various opportunities, allowing Colt to kill his targets. But it takes keen exploration and knowledge to discover the best ways to take them out. So, exploring the town of Updamm in the morning will be very different to exploring it in the evening. There will be different events taking place, certain buildings will be fully open, NPCs of interest will show up and the key appears will appear.
Players are tasked with piecing everything together, learning of these opportunities, and executing them to ensure the goal is met. This means a lot of trial and error, backtracking and repeatedly searching and same areas over again to discover even the smallest new clue or advantage.
But DEATHLOOP has an incredible amount of depth to each location, that they feel close to a fully fleshed level from the recent Hitman games.
Colt will be able to kill any of the Visionaries in the day, but some will be hard to reach or even impossible to kill if its during a certain time of the day. But in between killing, Colt can search the island for leads on new and more powerful weapons, abilities such as Shift which teleports Colt short distances (much like Dishonour’s Blink). Havoc that makes Colt super powerful and ups his damage, Nexus which links enemies together, so when you kill one of them, they all die. And Aether, which makes Colt invisible and super deadly. Then there are others, but these are really the best of the bunch.
Getting them can be a real challenge in itself, but repeatedly killing the same Visionary will allow Colt to pick up an upgrade for one of these abilities and become even stronger. So, it’s worth the risk and if you have the right type of gun for the task, then you should be successful.
Plus, you can gather little perks such as Trinkets for Colt and his guns. Giving more damage, allowing him to double jump and much more.
What you have with DEATHLOOP is a beautifully woven and engaging Roguelike in many respects. Live, die and repeat, but get better with each Loop and keep chipping away at the block that stands before you, until it’s a beautiful statue …. Or until it’s nothing but dust.What DEATHLOOP does well?
DEATHLOOP manages to keep you invested with enough secrets and reveals to make you want to go back for more. The world is rich and full of small details that you pick up on each time you Loop, while new discoveries and events are littered throughout the adventure. If you think of DEATHLOOP as a massive detective game, with gunplay and a surreal twist, you’ll be extremely happy with the end result.
Exploring each section of the island at different times of the day really made the world feel alive and responsive to me playing it. I could simply go out and try to kill everything in my path, or simply venture off and find some great loot such as new and powerful guns or do some detective work and piece all the clues together on how to take out all the Visionaries.
At first, it’s slightly overwhelming, but once you engage with DEATHLOOP and play around with what it gives you, it’s absolutely enthralling. An event such as finding the ability to infuse your weapons, so when a Loop starts over you don’t lose them, was such a great discovery. Learning bit by bit about your targets and killing them off for the first time to reap the rewards is also highly satisfying. But the discovery of new key items and ways to kill your targets does nothing but make the journey even better.
DEATHLOOP is an incredibly nice-looking game too, with a great soundtrack to support. The feeling I got was a mixture of Dishonored and No One Lives Forever. A weird and wonderful 60’s trip filled with murder and mayhem. Each step into the day sees Black Reef slowly tear itself apart with old places being vandalised and destroy, but new ventures opening. The Weather effects are pretty cool and overall, for me personally (on PC) ran quite smoothly.
The gunplay has a real sense of impact, with guns feeling very weighty and packing a punch in a number of vicious ways. The variation of guns is very good, with special weapons really feeling well-earned rewards for intense challenges. Plus, with all the gun trinkets and personal trinkets, Colt can arm himself to become even more powerful than before. All Trinkets and the powers you get are extremely useful and help flesh out the action in dynamic ways. I do wish that you could equip at least one more Power for Colt, but the two Power limits could be for balancing reasons. Still, the more mayhem in creative ways would have been fun to see.
I felt immensely rewarded and stratified with DEATHLOOP’s gameplay overall, with its jigsaw puzzle style operation and approach to completing the overall objective. Finding the multiple ways to take out your targets, following leads to locate new weapons and general exploration and discovery of new secrets and hidden places was immensely stratifying even after 100 loops. What DEATHLOOP could have done better
While I feel DEATHLOOP does some things incredibly well, there were a few things that stood out to make a dent in the experience. First, the game does start off quite slowly and with a lot of information being given to you. There is a fair amount of hand-holding and I get why. So for a few hours, it’s very restrictive and keeps you on a leash. Then there’s the AI, which is really off at most times. Enemies will either be really on the ball and be an absolute nightmare to deal with, spotting Colt a mile away while hidden behind a wall, or just be walking into a wall while you make more noise than a firework display.
The AI’s inconsistent behaviour can be rather jarring and the brute force they dish out is insane at times. Using stealth is recommended but the stealth system is not as intricate as something such as Dishonored.
It can also be incredibly difficult to find clues for certain leads as most of the information you find is on documents scattered across the island. Many of which, do blend in too well with the beautifully detailed world. And as mentioned, the story has a great sense of mystery and build-up, but not the best payoff to wrap things up.The multiplayer mode
So Bethesda has a real soft spot for invasion gameplay at the moment. It was not implemented in DOOM Eternal and so it’s here. It’s a fun little mode where players can take the role of Julia, invade someone else’s game as they play as Colt and try to end their Loop. It’s simple but can be a lot of fun depending on what gear you and the other player have.
I’m never a massive fan of invasion-style gameplay but it was neat to see it well-executed here. Plus, you can turn it off if you like. The AI for Julia is still brutal at times, and clumsy other times.Overall?
DEATHLOOP is another gem for Arkane studios and shows a continuing passion for designing innovative and engaging adventure games. The Roguelike approach to gameplay and world-building is immensely cleaver, feeling like a massive and intricate Hitman map that requires keen senses and detective skills to figure out the solution. The gunplay and supernatural elements are a lot of fun, with the sense of discovery and overcoming hardships for great rewards being incredibly satisfying. But would this be their best game? Personally, I still believe PREY to be their best game, but DEATHLOOP does come in at a close second.
+++ Immensely satisfying gameplay “Loop”
++ Great world building, visuals and sound design
++ Detective style gameplay is great fun
+ Lots of cool secrets, loot and discoveries
- Story could have more impact
- Enemy AI can be rather jarring
A PC Review key for DEATHLOOP was kindly provided by Bethesda for the purpose of this review.