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    Deathloop review

    Need to know

    What is it? An immersive sim, much like Dishonored, but this time set in a time loop.
    Expect to pay $60/£50
    Release date September 14, 2021
    Developer Arkane Studios
    Publisher Bethesda Softworks
    Reviewed on RTX 3080Ti, 32GB RAM, Ryzen 7 3700X
    Multiplayer? You can invade someone else’s game, and be invaded in turn.
    Link Official site (opens in new tab)

    $2.99 (opens in new tab)View at Amazon (opens in new tab)$19.69 (opens in new tab)View at CDKeys (opens in new tab)$20.87 (opens in new tab)View at GamersGate (opens in new tab)See all prices (21 found)

    Arkane Studios is calling me out. It knows how I played Dishonored 2—my habit of quickloading away any mistake in pursuit of a perfect stealth playthrough. And given that almost 30% of Steam players have the Ghostly achievement for finishing a mission without ever being spotted, I suspect I’m not alone. Despite having a suite of tools for dealing with messy situations, we ignored them in favour of the most OP button on our keyboard: F9. With Deathloop, Arkane is removing the crutch. Quicksave is gone.

    Deathloop is all about what happens when things don’t go to plan; about panic and improvisation; about learning from a mistake, and taking those lessons forward. Trapped in a time loop, it doesn’t matter if you botch your way through combat encounter after combat encounter—it doesn’t even matter if you die and get kicked back to the beginning of the day. All that matters is that, in doing so, you gained some information that will help you the next time around.

    Information is your primary objective in Deathloop—it’s how you find and kill the Visionaries that act as the bosses of the island. There are eight in total, and your job as the amnesiac Colt Vahn is to take them all out in a single day in order to break the loop. Your problem is that your day is split into four chunks—morning, noon, afternoon and evening—and you can only visit one of the island’s four areas during each period. The Visionaries only appear in certain locations at certain times of the day, and at first it doesn’t seem possible to kill them all before the loop resets and your work is undone.

    As you dig into the lives of your hit list, though, you’ll uncover new ways to manipulate them. This is the bulk of the game, and your progress is tracked and updated as each new lead is uncovered. Colt is one of only two people whose memory remains intact when the day loops, which means his targets’ behaviour remains consistent, and thus repeatable. It’s immensely satisfying as the pieces start falling into place—as you see the consequences of your actions, and start filling out your itinerary in preparation for that perfect day.

    The process of gathering information doesn’t just apply to your primary objective, either. It turns out that looping repetition leads to a more organic sense of discovery that suits the immersive sim genre well. Arkane’s level design is filled with secrets—hidden routes and locked doors that hint at new approaches. In Dishonored, you were rewarded for patience and observation, for scouring through notes and diaries and searching in hidden corners. And you can do that in Deathloop, sure, but it also supports a more direct approach.

    Colt is spotted by a group of Eternalists.

    I think they saw me. (Image credit: Bethesda)

    Certain gun perks make more sense with Julianna in mind too. At first I wasn’t sure why I’d ever need a version of the Fourpounder—an absolute cannon of a handgun—that creates a gas cloud at the point of impact. It can already dispatch Eternalists with a single headshot—anything more seemed like overkill. But Julianna is tougher, and the damage-over-time causes players to panic. That can lead to funny interactions, like the time an invader shot at me through the flammable gas cloud, blowing themselves up in the process.

    For the first few hours of Deathloop, I was more interested in it as Arkane’s response to Dishonored—a series that I love. I was enjoying myself, and looking forward to uncovering the mysteries of the island, but was more intrigued by what Arkane was saying about the genre as a whole, and about the way people played its previous games. It wasn’t until another player invaded my game that it all clicked together, and I started enjoying Deathloop on its own terms.

    After around 25 hours, I may have completed the story, but I’m still not done: I want to complete the remaining puzzles to see what new weapons and upgrades are out there, and learn how they can help my fight against Julianna in the future. And I want to see how the hidden routes I discovered as Colt can help me be a better invader against other players less familiar with the levels. Colt might be determined to break the loop, but—at least for now—I’m not in any rush.

    As seen on PCgamer

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