It won’t surprise me to see headlines with: Deathloop game of the year on PC. Several hours in, it is that good. With the haptics on the PS5 controller, I’ve heard it’s even more added depth. On PC, I can just buy that controller, if I really wanted to. It’s already excellent with keyboard and mouse.
I tried Dishonored years ago, then let it go before finally finishing it this past year (stopped chasing perfect runs). It was fun, but felt like it punished me for having fun. Deathloop remedies all of that. Arkane Studios managed things so the gameplay time loops enhance things instead of add repetition. It’s crazy.
Deathloop Game Story
Most people know the basics by now. The main characters are Colt and Julianna. Colt wakes up on the beach, finds out he’s in a time loop and wants to break free. Julianna wants to stop him, usually by killing him. It’s a very interesting dynamic between the two.
Julianna deals out equal parts encouragement and threats. I’m interested to find out more about their complicated relationship. I’m not sure if the two were lovers, related or just friends before the time loop. It’s obvious Julianna wants Colt to remember who he is and why he’s there. I can’t tell if she actually wants him to succeed or not.
8 Visionaries created the time loop on the island and they must all be killed to break the loop. The majority of each loop is spent finding leads to where, when and how to kill each visionary. There’s so much to learn about each of them, mostly their weaknesses and habits. Also, Colt is the only one that remembers after each loop reset.
A big part of the fun in the game is unraveling the whole story. There’s so many layers to the visionaries, Colt, Julianna, the artifact, the time loop and the history of the island. Each piece of the story unravels over each time loop, area and time of day.
It feels like a great accomplishment to pick up new pieces of information to use in another area and/or another time of day. The progression of the story is addicting as is killing the Eternalist followers of the Visionaries over and over.
Deathloop’s Time Loops
The time loop is the main part of Deathloop and it’s a strength, not a weakness. Starting a day over and over could lead to repetition, but Arkane Studios managed to avoid that. It’s even more impressive considering Blackreef island only includes 4 areas: The Complex, Updamm, Fristad Rock and Karl’s Bay.
They accomplished this by only unlocking parts of each areas at different times of day. Some doors are completely sealed off, some locations destroyed or otherwise inaccessible. Those times are split between morning, noon, afternoon and night. Visiting an area advances the time of day, forcing variety.
Splitting the four areas amongst the four times of day basically creates 16 unique locations. Picking up new pieces of the story helps spread out leads across these variations to further prevent redundant gameplay, at least so far.
Deathloop Game Loop Reset
When a day is complete, or I die, the loop resets and my Colt character wakes up on the beach again. Before the dying part became annoying, I picked up Colt’s Reprise Slab. That Slab gave me the power to die twice before the next death resets the loop (two rewinds, basically).
After Reprise kept death from becoming a giant hassle, weapons and items were next on the list of possible annoyances. Anything I picked up during the day’s loop went away when the loop reset. Arkane fixed that with a great story mission to steal Dr. Wenjie’s (one of the visionaries) fusion research.
That fusion research converts Residuum, temporal residue from previous loops, into a way to “fuse” weapons or items to Colt. Anything fused is available at the beginning of the next loop. Another solution for possible time loop annoyances. It was at that point that I knew the game was worth the price.
There is so Much Depth to This Deathloop Game
The amount of depth in the game is impressive. There’s so much variation possible with Weapons, Weapon Trinkets, Personal Trinkets, Slabs and Slab Upgrades. The customization options allow for so many play style combinations.
Just a few examples of combinations possible: melee brawler, silent assassin, gunslinger, super power heavy, etc.. There’s no classes by these names (I made them up based on what’s possible), it’s all accomplished via the different combinations of weapons and items.
Melee and Assassination
Whether barehanded or with a machete, sneaking up to or jumping on an enemy unlocks the ability to assassinate them. There are Intricate stab moves and snapping necks. There’s a few variations that keep it fresh and very satisfying. I currently enjoy running, sliding and then “surprise!” machete assassination right as the enemy detects me.
I almost forgot about the kick. That lovely kick. It’s true joy to catch one of the Eternalist near a cliff edge or roof top and then kick them over the edge.
The basic selection of weapons include machete, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, rifles and machine guns. After picking up the same weapons a few times, it seems like a small selection, but then the game adds more variety. Special versions of these weapon types spice things up like: silenced, scoped, head exploding (yup), etc..
Recently, I picked up a set of pistols that can combine together to form an SMG, transformer style. That’s my current favorite weapon combo. Weapon trinkets go farther and take all weapons to the next level of customization.
Each weapon includes a number slots for Weapon Trinkets. There’s plenty of different types found around the areas and on fallen enemies. The customization possibilities they provide include things like: larger ammo clip, quicker reloads, better accuracy, more damage, etc..
It’s another layer to choose the way you want to play. I recommend the quick reload and larger ammo capacity, because I kept running out of bullets at the worst time.
Like Weapons Trinkets, Personal Trinkets add a layer of customization. Instead of weapons, these trinkets customize Colt’s physical attributes. There’s only 4 slots available, so it’s important to pick trinkets that support a given playstyle. Those include things like: double jump, health regeneration, power regeneration, faster assassinations, etc..
My go too trinkets include double jump, health related and power regeneration. A nice balance of “don’t die” and more frequent power use (to avoid the Dishonored power consumption annoyance).
Deathloop Game Slabs
The Slabs are related to the mysterious anomaly powering the time loop and hold the powers each visionary wields. Colt’s default Slab is the Reprise power I mentioned earlier. Through killing the visionaries, other slabs are obtained.
I’ve obtained Nexus, Shift and Karnesis so far. Nexus grants the ability to tie enemies together. Kill one and you kill all the other ones linked. Shift is the go to teleport ability. Karnesis is telekinesis over the enemies (throw them around with force).
Only 2 slabs are equipped at a time, so it’s important to plan for playstyle and the current objective. The depth continues as each Slab also includes slots for upgrades.
I’ve only managed the Shift upgrades so far. One that breaks my fall and another to switch places with an enemy. Upgrades are bit tougher to get. The only way to unlock them is after killing a Visionary a 2nd time. As I sort out the proper kill order for the end game, I look forward to unlocking the other upgrades.
Yet another layer of gameplay is Residuum collection. Objects with residual energy from the time loops are easy to spot and absorb. Dead Visionaries also leave a decent amount I scooped up. Regular enemies do not leave any behind. The collected Residuum adds points I used to fuse weapons to my loop (so I don’t lose them on death or day reset).
All the items I mentioned in sections above require this step to keep them for every loop. Items not yet fused are available to sacrifice for additional Residuum. It’s an important option for all the duplicates or unwanted items I picked up.
Hacking with the Hackamajig
In there very beginning, a walkie talkie style device unlocks the ability to remote hack computers, radios, turrets, security doors, cameras and more. It’s simple enough, but line of sight and distance requirements add a bit of difficulty in some situations.
Hacked turrets and Nullifiers (disable Slab powers in a given radius) are suitcase based. I really enjoy hacking and picking up the turret to place it in a crowded area. Activating it remotely is fun when it’s to one side and I’m on the other, catching Eternalists in the crossfire.
Every time there’s a Visionary available on the current map to kill, Julianna invades and hunts me down. She can roam free through the map amongst enemies. Her default Slab is Masquerade, so she can disguise herself as another Eternalist. Her weakness versus Colt is her one life to his 3, thanks to Reprise.
As an added layer of difficulty, real players have the option to play as Julianna during these invasions. I’ve killed and been killed by real players. It adds excitement, but there is an option to turn off the online component. I tried playing as Julianna, but crashed. I’ll wait again after completing the base game.
Deathloop Game Hacking, Time Based, Battery and Other Puzzles
Oh boy there are puzzles. Some are simple bring a thing from point A to B, then another item back to A. Others are complicated to the point that I completed multiple steps across different times and days. There’s some I know I have not found all the steps to.
I love the puzzles. This is not just some fast FPS with powers and a time loop. Puzzles unlock weapons that help plan the kill list and also unveil the steps to take to finally break the loop.
Deathloop is a fantastic game. It’s not what I expected and in the best way. I loved Cyberpunk 2077, but this might top that for my Game of the Year. If you are thinking about buying it, don’t delay any longer. It’s a fantastic journey so far, and well worth full price.