Deathloop is the first game that puts my life at risk for audio logs.
The latest release from Arkane Studios, the studio best known for helping maintain immersive sim pedigree through first-person action games such as Dishonored and Prey. And Deathloop is the most reliable fit for that lineage, with stealth-focused exploration, supernatural abilities, and, in most cases, open-ended gameplay that offers several ways to tackle problems. increase. Momentarily, as tense, thrilling and creative as Arkane’s release.
However, this is just the beginning of the Deathloop. What makes this game so interesting is its structure. The player acting as an assassin named Colt is resurrected over and over again on the same day. (I don’t know what’s going on with recent game developers and timeloops between this, 12 Minutes, and Returns.) This conceit turns Deathloop into a game that is as important to research as combat. You’re not just fighting to survive, you’re doing it to learn new information that will help you solve the strange and complex mysteries at the heart of the game. Hopefully that mystery will help you go through the same day repeatedly, looking for scraps of important information, digging into dangerous places, and making the next loop a little easier.
I’ll do my best to summarize the assumptions of Deathloop, but it’s not easy. It begins when Colt wakes up on a beach that turns out to be an island called the Black Reef, which looks like a hideout for Supervillains in the 1960s. Soon he learns that Blackleaf is run by a murderer named Juliana, and that the inhabitants are relived in a loop on the same day. Some, like Juliana, have decided to keep their memories loop-to-loop and keep things as they are. Colt, of course, does not, and decides that he intends to stop the loop altogether. To do so, he needs to kill seven visionaries from Juliana and Blackleaf. The twist is that he has to kill them all in a day without dying.
Deathloop’s ultimate goal is basically one big puzzle that connects slowly. Blackleaf is a complex island divided into four districts, with each day divided into four periods: morning, noon, afternoon and evening. During the course of the game, you will explore each area at different times of the day and steadily open the Black Leaf. Colt retains his memory after each loop, so if you find a shortcut or passcode for the gate area, that information will remain with you. Eventually I realized that I knew the territory inside and outside and could sneak through the fastest roads. That very satisfying kind of mastery. The ultimate goal of all this intelligence gathering is to learn as much as possible about the island and its foresight so that you can understand how to kill them all within the constraints of the day. As they say, information is power.
That one big puzzle you slowly connect
This probably sounds pretty confusing, and it does, but the game does an incredible job of comforting you so you don’t get overwhelmed. The main menu is basically a proof board that allows you to track all the information in each visionary, so you can tackle it all in a series of small steps. Similarly, the game is divided into relatively bite-sized chunks. At certain times of the day, such as morning or evening, you will most likely explore the area with specific goals in mind. Sometimes it can be as big as killing a boss. It can also mean looking for a passcode to find a way to get into a locked apartment. Simply put, comprehensive goals are huge and complex, but the steps to reach them are clear and straightforward.
It’s also important to note that despite the time loop assumptions, Deathloop is not a random level roguelike like Returnal or Hades. Each area varies depending on the time of day, but otherwise it is the same each time you visit. And while at first Colt can’t bring weapons or skills from one loop to the next, that changes when he can harvest materials, inject items, and carry them over. This residual energy is clearly called residual energy. This allows you to grow stronger by collecting slabs from downed visionaries that steadily build weapons over time and grant supernatural abilities such as invisibility and teleportation. (The structure is like modern Rockman, and defeating the boss gives you the power to change the game.)
The game may be repeated from time to time. For example, early in a mission, the same set of generators had to be launched on three different days in order to divert power to different parts of the island. But most of the time, I was always doing different things. The mission included everything from deciphering emoji to infiltrating a masked ball. Also, when you need to revisit an area or scenario, you usually know the shortcuts that the breeze will pass through, or are much more powerful at that point and can easily defeat the enemies you need to kill. It’s also a very open game. With seven foresights to kill and a large island to explore, if you get stuck, most of the time you have something else to do.
What I’ve done so far without talking about shooting should tell me something. The central mystery of Deathloops is very fun and satisfying to pull apart and solve, almost obscuring the action. That said, the action is great. This is clearly an Arkane game. In other words, it’s not a straight shooter, it’s a game where you sneak into a dangerous place and combine stealth, creativity and luck to kill everyone. I rarely used guns and instead relied primarily on my superpower weapons and, above all, machete for quiet takedowns. (Deathloop’s murder is very cruel, with many decapitated heads and unnecessarily large amounts of blood splattering.)
But in true Arcane’s way, whether it was another combat technique or a hidden passageway that completely avoided violence, there always seemed to be multiple ways to tackle the problem. Also note that on the PS5, the game makes good use of the DualSense controller, so the combat really feels good thanks to the realistic vibrations and the different trigger tensions depending on the weapon. Especially the speakers of the controller are being used effectively, and Juliana is always annoying you with messages via the walkie-talkie.
There always seemed to be multiple ways to tackle the problem
I actually only have a few small niches in Deathloop, which are primarily related to some artificial techniques that the game uses to create tension. The first has to do with saving. Despite being primarily a single player experience, you can’t save Deathloop mid-missions. Instead, the game is only saved when Colt leaves the area. Many of the missions are short, so it’s not always a problem, but it can be quite dragging, especially if you’re ultimately defeating a visionary. It’s really frustrating not to be able to pause when real life interferes with game play. Similarly, Deathloop has an interesting view on multiplayer. The story puts you in the role of Colt, but you can also play as Juliana and cause havoc in other players’ games. It’s a cool concept, but most of the time I found it annoying for someone to jump in and kill me during a carefully planned mission. That is also inevitable. If you’re not playing online, an AI-powered Julianna will occasionally appear instead. In my pre-launch experience, this always seemed to happen at the worst moments.
The most notable thing about Deathloop is that all its elements are a complex and stylish world of Blackreef. Actions that encourage experiments. A mystery of ideas and surprises. The interesting and hostile relationship between Colt and Juliana is in harmony very seamlessly. In the morning you can stumble around the guards and find the password hidden on your desk. This helps steal a sniper rifle in the afternoon and is used to defeat your boss in the evening. And shortly thereafter, Juliana intends to call you with a walkie for a charming, taunting, stringed tilade.
Each of these elements feels necessary as well as cohesive. In most games, audio logs are a disposable lore for the most hardcore fans. Here they can be the difference between success and failure.
Deathloop will be available on PS5 and PC on September 14th.
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