Deathloop (PlayStation 5) Review

By Neil Flynn 22.09.2021 4

Review for Deathloop on PlayStation 5

It feels that 2021 has been pushing a narrative of time loops, whether it be Lemnis Gate's turn-based strategy gameplay, the rather popular point-and-click, narrative driven Xbox Game Pass title Twelve Minutes, or the Disney + TV Show, Loki, it seems that repetition is winning the day. The team at Arkane Studios has crafted a wonderful world to be explored in Deathloop, known as the Isle of Black Reef, with distinct areas, enemies, events and power ups. How fun can it be playing the same game over, and over again? How fun can it be playing the same game over, and over again?

Starting off with the plot, Colt, the protagonist, wakes up on a beach after seemingly being killed in the opening segment. Wondering around in confusion, Colt equips himself with weapons, a radio/device, a gun and off he sets. He quickly learns that he is enemy number one, being hunted by all of the residents of Black Reef who prefer to continue to live in their bubble of an infinite loop. Colt desires to break the loop and sets out on his mission to do whatever it takes to do so, and get off the island. You'll be forgiven if you feel that this almost sounds similar to The Prisoner, a TV show from the late '60s, minus the time loop.

The opening couple of hours acts as a tutorial, being largely hand-held through the first few missions by using way-points and a rather convoluted set of instructions that overwhelms with both lore and gameplay mechanics. Weapons, upgrades, trinkets, residuum, infusion, lore, instructions, people's movements, slabs, and knowing map layouts let alone everything else, that list alone sounds exhausting.

Every gamer learns in a different way, but it is hard to think being bombarded with information all at once is the way to go. Sure, this information is available on pause menus to re-read, but some players may get put off. There was a sense of fear of what might happen once the training wheels come off - would you be able to figure this out on your own without having to overthink about it? This anxiety was a persistent feeling, but it was eventually placated by the sense of exploration, experimentation, and funnily enough, repetition. If at first you don't succeed, try try again!

Screenshot for Deathloop on PlayStation 5

Piecing together the puzzle of the Isle of Black Reef is key to finding a way off the island. Investigation comes in the form of finding notes, files, and listening to conversations, which are strewn across the island. This is where some players will diverge in opinion, as there will be those that love the idea of piecing together a story, reading all the titbits of information, and listening intently to recorded messages, while others are just itching to keeping the action flowing. Colt is well acted, as are other members of the cast, even if swear words seem to leak out every other word, it almost feels like a 10-year-old who has only just learned a few curse words and now they can't stop using them.

Colt needs to hunt down eight targets (known as Visionaries) in one day, and eliminate them all to break the loop - the main issue is getting around the map and being in the right place each time to be able to do that. The chief antagonist is Julianna Blake. A Visionary who quite literally antagonises Colt by goading him throughout the campaign, she frequently teases him by being one step ahead of him, knowing his every move. Luckily for Colt he has time on his side. Julianna can turn up at any moment hunting Colt, but even more so, if you enable the online PvP mode, 'Protect The Loop,' players can play online with Julianna and invade other players' timelines, or be open to invasion themselves. The time loop is confined to one day, of which there are four time periods: morning, afternoon, evening and night. After which the time resets back to the morning of the same day.

Unlike other titles with a time loop, such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, there isn't a ticking clock, so Colt is free to roam around in each time period, for as long as he stays alive, without any time constraints. Similarities to Majora's Mask don't end there, as there are four unique districts, each with characters doing particular actions at each time interval, and behaving differently, with far more raucous behaviour at night. Each time loop reset strips Colt of his inventory, although all information gained is kept and Colt retains this knowledge - there are even ways to retain important power ups and weapons.

Screenshot for Deathloop on PlayStation 5

While Deathloop plays out like an FPS, it is so much more than this. This isn't Call of Duty or Battlefield, but rather more tactical and stealthier. Information gathering and good timing are pivotal to progressing, but that is not to say the run-and-gun approach doesn't work either. The main issue is that if Colt gets killed, he resets back to the start of the day, although his powerup does allow him to have three lives per loop. Colt is able to do this thanks to his trusty powerup known as a Slab. Slabs can be collected from killing other Visionaries, and powered up by killing Julianna during a loop. Slabs have a great effect to helping overpower Colt, and turn him into a much bigger force to be reckoned with. Slabs such as Karnesis allow Colt to have almost Jedi-like force powers by throwing people around, or Aether which helps him become invisible.

As the campaign progresses, Colt manages to get his hands on more powerful weapons, which can be stacked with power ups called Trinkets. Trinkets are scattered all over the world, and offer varying buffs for weapons, such as reducing recoil or automatic reloads. Character Trinkets, not to be confused with the Slabs, allow Colt to double jump, regenerate health faster, increase movement speed, among many other options - but what is the point of collecting all of these if they are just going to get lost in the next time loop?

Luckily, there is a system for that too. To retain items when looping Colt needs to hunt for Residuum, a strange sort of fuel that can be harvested by Colt absorbing it. At the end of a time period Colt will be able to spend his gained residuum on 'Weapon Infusion.' Infused weapons will then survive the time loop and stay in Colt's inventory, eventually making him one 'helluva' powerhouse. Oh, and Colt can also kick. Probably one of the most satisfying attacks in the game is a melee attack where Colt can boot enemies, which is particularly useful when enemies are standing near an edge where they can be booted off it. It never stops being funny.

Screenshot for Deathloop on PlayStation 5

The graphical style is an ode to '60s tech. If anything there are some similarities to the TVA from the Disney +'s Loki, especially when it comes to the orange and brown visually styling of the era. Generic enemies look strange, all wearing masks and modelled as if they were moving mannequins, the exception to this being the eight visionaries. The visuals look incredibly impressive, with environments and vistas looking alive, character models looking on point, even more so with ray-tracing enabled, although this does bring the frame rate down to 30fps. The performance mode is ideal for 4K visuals and a solid 60fps but the options are there for those that prefer visual fidelity over frame drops. This does feel like the game that PlayStation 5 needed to define itself as 'next gen,' and considering there are very few of these that are not cross-gen it should capture the interest of many who are looking for that experience. Deathloop, for now, remains as a timed-console exclusive for PlayStation 5, with it most likely set to go to Xbox in late 2022.

Screenshot for Deathloop on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It seems that repetition is winning the day, so if at first you don't succeed try try again. The complexities and permutations in Deathloop are initially overwhelming and confusing, the intro attempts to explain so much by way of plot, mechanics and characterisation in a very short space of time. However, work past this point and the fun begins, with a sense of exploration and an arsenal of weapons and attacks making combat feel very rewarding. The story, despite at times being told through messages and text is well voiced acted, despite the incessant need to swear. Pulling off stealth kills or killing one of the eight main characters after figuring out how to infiltrate their plans makes players feel they have outwitted their computer counterpart. If there was one title to buy on PlayStation 5 right now that is truly next gen, then make sure Deathloop is at the top of that list.

Developer

Arkane

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I like time loop stories, and I do also like rogue-lights, but I worry so many games I using dying over and over as a way to make the game seem better than they are - to artifically extend a game.

I felt like I didn't die too many times to make it too frustrating, you do get 3 lives per time loop. I played it a lot more stealthy thought rather than to go out all guns blazing.

I was on the fence, but you've fully convinced me to pick it up! 

Renan said:
I was on the fence, but you've fully convinced me to pick it up! 

Well that's good news! The mechanics are a lot to learn at the start, but push through it, and you'll get used to them and what you need to do!

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