Deathloop is not at all what I expected • Eurogamer.net
There is an interesting note that has been attached to the access we have been allowed to Deathloop, about five hours with the latest game from Dishonored and Prey developers Arkane Studios, which politely implies that we look beyond easy comparisons with people like Hitman and Dark Souls. with its intricate mechanical maps, or of Majora’s Mask, The Outer Wilds, and Returnal with the ingenious time looping at its core (it even goes so far as to categorically state, in case any confusion persists, that no Deathloop is certainly not a roguelike).
The thing is – and I’m sorry Arkane, I know you did your best to dissuade me, but this is just what do we do – I don’t know how else you can identify this curious chimera from a game. Partly because so much of the pleasure of those first five hours is watching Deathloop assemble himself from all those disparate parts as his loop winds around him, partly because by the time you’ve eliminated a couple of the visionaries who are your brands and gaining some of their powers, the stakes are so high that it’s kind of a mess. It’s mostly because Deathloop’s intricate conundrum is one you have to untangle yourself though, because judging from the first five hours, this really could be something special.
However, this is a very different experience than what we have seen in Arkane in the past. Yes, after those five hours, you may be using your recently acquired superpowers to blink from one roof to the next, perhaps opting to sneak past the guards or just break their necks like Dishonored, and yes, there is some of that pulpy kitsch. from Prey: checked. here to a nice heady degree, but the balance and setup feel completely different.
First, a few words about that setup. You are Colt, waking up drowsy on a strange cold shore without many more blows to the head beyond a hangover, with no recollection of who you are, where you are, or why exactly it is that the entire island you are hit on seems hell-bent on killing you. . If they succeed, or if you meet your end in any other way, three times the cycle begins again, Colt wakes up once more on that cold beach with nothing but a dry mouth and a migraine.
So he makes his way back to one of Deathloop’s four distinct districts, hopefully armed with something a little more powerful than the shotguns, nail guns, or bolt rifles that he can pick up along the way: knowledge. Maybe it’s something as simple as the access code for a closed door, or maybe something else: a new piece of information that could send you on the trail of a new piece of equipment, or some information about the maneuvers of one of the eight Visionaries. those are your latest brands. Which is when it gets even more complicated, and the only way to break the cycle is to kill all eight in a single day.
I’m already sure you’ll be making your own connections, getting a little bit of Hitman in the mechanical nature of your markings and their movements, The Outer Wilds in how you are free to manipulate and manifest that mechanism in bold and fascinating shapes, and then, so As soon as you have started to understand all the other elements of Soulsbourne and roguelikes, you will soon be able to infuse the weapons and abilities you acquire in each race with ‘residium’ so that you can hold on to them the next time you wake up on that beach, and while all the residue is lost when you die, you can return to the place of your disappearance to collect it all again. It is, in short, a lot.
We refer to these games as a useful abbreviation, I think, because when you put the Deathloop makeup on in plain black and white, it can look kind of like a squiggle, in fact, while you’re going through the intelligence lists and it carries on the sometimes demanding menus. , it can also feel like one. But while this is certainly a very cerebral game, much like its Arkane predecessors, it somehow feels lighter than the last. In fact, despite all the names that have been invoked when it comes to Deathloop, Hitmans, Dark Souls, and Returnals, it was a very different game that came to mind in much of the moment-by-moment action. With its underpinnings of spy fiction (via The Prisoner and Point Blank, of course), dense maps with multiple targets, and most importantly the sheer lightness of it, it was GoldenEye that came to mind the most. frequency than other games when I played those. first hours of Deathloop.
This is a pure power fantasy, much louder and more talkative than Arkane’s previous games (with much of that talk coming from the back and forth between Colt and the antagonist Julianna, something that bubbles and pops and gives this complex game a very human looking heart). There’s a lot more urgency to his action as well, injected by Majora’s Mask’s time cycle limitation of having only one day to get it all done, but also by the forward momentum that Deathloop’s arsenal loudly insists on.
Which is to say that weapons feel good in Deathloop. Really very good. Cole’s starting SMG spits and buckles, aided on PS5 by good DualSense support, with a tendency to get stuck in the middle of a shootout if you’re still using one of the more basic models. Shotguns, meanwhile, rumble with such exuberance that it makes the screen shake and it seems downright rude not to use them as and when you can. While Dishonored always felt like it was channeling you into a life in the shadows, Deathloop pushes you to the other extreme, encouraging you to do your thing with a little more arrogance and flamboyance.
It helps that, in those early hours at least, Deathloop isn’t a punishment game. Far from it, in fact, the maps are wide open and dense, making dodging a mob child’s play (with lavish architecture and craggy rock walls that you know will launch thousands of ideas) while the AI seems conveniently blunted by the fact that most of the NPCs in Deathloop are perpetually drunk, seemingly distracted by their own drunkenness or idly playing guitars. Place the power firmly in your hands, perhaps re-emphasizing the fact that the world in Deathloop is presented for you to play with instead of being intimidated.
The real challenge, it seems, is how you go about putting those pieces together, and how you line up this dense little Rubik’s Cube of a world until all the tiles, and the eight visionaries, click right where you want them. After those first few hours, I’m at the point where the world has opened up, where each of those districts is available at each of its different hours of the day and where the possibilities and permutations threaten to turn into a kind of pain. upside down.
However, up to this point, Deathloop made sense of its dazzling array of components and held them together with an impeccable sense of style. There is a danger that he will wind up in knots, although at present he seems serene enough to help guide his players through the mess. After those first few hours, too, I can see why Arkane politely asked to put aside the obvious comparisons, because while Deathloop could be built from familiar parts, it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever played.