PC Gaming PlayStation PlayStation 5

Deathloop Is A Puzzle First, A Shooter Second

Deathloop Title Screen
Courtesy of Bethesda Softworks


Developer: Arkane Studios
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Break The ‘Deathloop’ (Before It Breaks You)

I have joked about this several times during the unboxing of this game as well as the first look, but it really felt like one couldn’t tune into a Sony PlayStation press conference without hearing news and trailers about Deathloop. When it was first introduced, the aesthetic, main characters and overall vibes paid as a homage to “Blaxploitation” cinema while promising players to handle the game’s cycles the way the player wants. 

As the title of the game suggests, the player controls Colt, a man shrouded in mystery stuck in a time loop. He realizes that he has to kill eight designated targets before the end of the day or else he will be forced to restart the loop from the beginning. However, with every loop reset he is armed with knowledge from previous cycles, making instances easier to manage and quicker to advance the further Colt progress.

deathloop gameplay
Deathloop - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Deathloop Bears Influence From Blaxploitation Films Of The Past

Stopping him is Julianna, a mysterious woman who has a vendetta against him and seems to know more about the time loop than what she lets on. Regardless, while she seems to have a close relationship with the protagonist, she harbors the ill intent of killing him to “preserve the loop.”

While the player will play the game as Colt, players can also play as Julianna in a separate campaign provided they clear story mode with Colt first. In this mode, Julianna will serve as the huntress, invading other player’s games and killing Colt much like similar mechanics in Soulsbourne titles. This is Deathloop’s version of multiplayer, yet the single player is just as engaging and engrossing. I expected nothing less from Arkane Studios, the same development team behind the Dishonored series.

gameplay dual wield deathloop
Deathloop - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Total Freedom Is Granted To You In Deathloop

In many ways, the ability to choose your playstyle as well as your supernatural abilities offer some callback to Dishonored. In that game, players were free to tackle the objective in any way they’d like, from stealth to guns blazing, in order to reach the end goal. Deathloop is no different except the former’s emphasis is on stealth while stealth is but one of the many options to kill enemies. The player can even decide to go on a pacifist run if they’d like, only targeting the 8 members they are tasked to kill.

The commentary and dialogue prevent Deathloop from being an overly serious game, with banter between Colt and Julianna being as slapstick as the player can expect. Even the other members have their own personality and charm, with the enemy NPCs making quips and remarks in regards (or disregard) to Colt.

death loop stealth kill
Deathloop - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

You Only Got 24 Hours To Live

Whenever Colt moves between zones, the time advances, meaning that Colt can only move between districts a certain number of times until the loop resets. This is a lot of trial and error on the player’s part, as the more the player enters cycles, the more armed with the information they are. Eventually, players can defeat all eight targets in one cycle, which can be satisfying to pull off.

The graphics are as beautiful as one can expect from a Bethesda title, with the gameplay immersion high thanks to the DualSense controller. Colt’s footsteps are emulated with small pulses of vibration and gunplay makes proper use of the L2/R2 triggers. Colt can even dual wield weapons, broadening his arsenal by having a sub-machine gun in one hand and a hand cannon in the other if players choose.

If At First, You Don’t Succeed Try Again (And again and again and--)

main menu screen
Deathloop - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Overall first impressions left me invested, specifically because Dishonored was one of the best first-person games I’ve experienced. First-person titles with an emphasis on freedom and redoing steps to get the best results are appreciated over linear “Get to the end of the map and defeat everyone in the way” gameplay. Of course, that is 100% subjective, but Deathloop is an enjoyable experience with ample amounts of humor to show for it.

Deathloop is available on PC and the PlayStation 5.

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