Deathloop Review | Intriguing, innovative and hard to understand

It’s hard to define Deathloop

    . The new adventure is a first-person shooter with magical powers, customizable weaponry, murder missions and stealth investigation amidst a time cycle. If the elements caravan were not enough, the game applies a good dose of chaos to the equation to turn everything on.

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    The result is a game that impresses for its creativity and unique face that have. Deathloop is unlike anything you’ve played this year, I can assure you. The formula, however, sometimes stumbles on its own boldness. On the one hand it is extremely fun trying to assemble the puzzle of how to kill eight powerful targets in 20 hours, on the other hand, the number of game elements runs over the player and the story at various times. It was difficult to learn to navigate and understand what was going on in this game.

    The first hours of Deathloop

    are the most critical in the experience. The first day on the island of Blackreef serves as a tutorial of about 1 hour. I ended the period feeling like I didn’t understand anything about the gameplay, the plot or what I needed to do next. The best part of all was discovering that, even totally lost, the first day only scratched the surface of everything that would live on that island.

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    Much of the problem of Deathloop stems exactly from the characteristic that makes the game so good: new mechanics and the chaotic mix of elements. Learning to navigate the time loop, selecting a mission, and understanding Colt’s weapon customization and powers will require the player to assimilate many menus and read many texts. But once this initial hurdle is passed, the experience becomes incredible.

    It is commendable that developer Arkane Lyon has staked all the chips on the idea of ​​Deathloop and have made a game that is not afraid to embrace the climate of anarchy that lives on the island of Blackreef, whether in gameplay or in the progression of the plot.

    Colt is the protagonist of Deathloop who will do everything to end the time cycle on the island of Blackreef (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

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  • History

    In Deathloop, we can assume the role of Colt. The protagonist lives inside a temporal distortion that makes the enigmatic island of Blackreef repeat the same day for all eternity. With no concern for tomorrow, the island has become the home of a decadent society that celebrates every day, but hides behaviors with the little humanity of those who failed to see meaning in the death of others.

    Convinced that he must break this cycle and flee Blackreef, Colt embarks on a mission to kill eight targets that keep the island’s temporal nightmare alive, the Visionaries. They all need to be killed before the day starts again, a task that will prove particularly difficult to accomplish in a single day.

    Colt eliminating one of the Deathloop Visionaries (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

    Colt is one of the only ones on the island who can save memories from one time cycle to the next, a narrative convenience that allowed Arkane to develop a story with butterfly effects. Taking an action with the protagonist advances the narrative and creates consequences in a world where, theoretically, actions don’t matter.

    To aid in the crusade to assassinate the eight targets, Colt is gun with pistols and other weapons found around the island. Weapons are not the only firepower of the character, who can still have special abilities (such as running faster and jumping twice), in addition to interesting Plates. These Plates confer supernatural powers such as teleporting and becoming invisible.

    None of the abilities, whether special or supernatural, are learned by Colt. They are found on the map as items that can be picked up and equipped. Which means they can be lost if Colt dies while exploring the island.

    Arkane Lyon deserves praise for the way they built the progression of this adventure. In Deathloop, the player can even repeat the same day over and over, but one day will never be the same as the other. The level design is rich, opening up new paths, rooms and unprecedented possibilities, even as you repeat the four scenarios in four parts of the day until the end of it all.

    Colt sneaking up on enemy. Character can equip knife to kill opponents without making noise (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

    It’s curious how the game bets high on gameplay, but doesn’t take chances in the story. The plot of Deathloop has plot twists worthy of a soap opera and a final ending that doesn’t match at all with the grandeur of the whole walk. The game’s three ending possibilities are so contained and simple compared to the rest that they are anticlimactic. The feeling is that the game is not over, in any of the outcomes.

    Another point where the story goes wrong is in the development of the relationship between Julianna and Colt. The clash between the two characters is a remarkable experience to play, but strange to follow. When I understood what links the two, the dialogues and motivations that lead to the fights became meaningless. Arkane wanted to employ the island-wide spirit of Anarchy to base their protagonists’ relationship, but the shot totally misses the mark.

    Navigating through menus

    Deathloop is a game with a lot of personality and sure of the new mechanics it wants to adopt. Perhaps that’s why the beginning of the game isn’t exactly very easy to assimilate, with many strangely new options being shown to the player. But don’t give up.

    When you open your save, the player will be faced with a multitude of menus, options and much, much text. Nothing against reading in games, but the short sessions of frantic action at the beginning, interspersed with reading clues and trying to understand the interface, don’t leave a good first impression. At first glance, the game appears to be chopped up by menus.

    Deathloop Home Menu shows missions, clues, weapon clues, Colt combos, and options to choose part of the day and Blackreef district to explore (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

    This happens for a reason. Colt’s eight visionary targets are spread across four Blackreef districts, in four different parts of the day: dawn, morning, noon and night. Deathloop does not allow the player to change district or part of the day on their own.

    To advance in time or go to the next district in search of a new target, the player must take Colt to a secret base, which opens up a kind of lobby. In it, the player has access to menus and can equip Colt with weapons he’s collected for the next part of the day, infuse items with Residuum so they’re carried from one time cycle to the next, and read clues found about the whereabouts of the Visionaries across the island. .

    Colt invading security systems in Blackreef (Image: Reproduction/Besthesda)

    With short missions in Beginning, your first experience in Deathloop will be doing a simple activity like opening a safe or a door and going back to the lobby and the countless menus behind the uncovered clues.

    These are the clues that will help you choose which district and in which part of the day Colt goes next. The game allows the player to freely choose the next step to take, based on the clues he has gathered about the location of the Visionaries.

    Deathloop Multiplayer: Cat and Mouse Game

    Colt’s main tormentor in mission to kill the Visionaries is Julianna, a rival assassin who is always on the prowl. The character can be controlled by another real player, who decides to disrupt a Colt’s worldwide campaign. Like Colt, I found other players who embodied other than Julianna. Some went up with everything. Others took a stealthy approach and hid.

    Julianna is an antagonist of Colt and can be controlled by artificial intelligence or another player (Image: Bethesda/Disclosure)

    The multiplayer element helps to further diversify the experience of making each day different from the next. Not only does Colt have modes to vary and invent in the game world, but a Julianna can force the player to change their style of exploration and progression.

    Overall, the impression is that playing with Julianna is more fun than taking the risk of having all the story advance lost after being killed as Colt. The antagonist loses nothing by dying to the protagonist, while Colt jeopardizes clues, weapons and powers accumulated throughout the day.

    Meeting between Julianna and Colt (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

    To be honest, the Deathloop multiplayer doesn’t seem to be very fair. It is natural for someone to choose to play as Julianna after finishing the game. This player will know more about the island details and will have all the NPCs as allies against a Colt who is still trying to figure out what’s going on.

    But ultimately, the multiplayer balance is positive. Colt who are not in the mood to be attacked by good players online can activate Julianna controlled by the machine’s artificial intelligence. Those who finished the story as Colt, but still want to accumulate weapons and continue exploring Blackreef, have the possibility to continue living in this world in the role of the villain.

    The freedom to play as Julianna is fun, even more anarchic, and the ultimate experience of the world of Deathloop and games from Arkane Lyon.

    Colt has a base of operations, in which it can review clues found by the map (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

    Knowledge is power

    Each new cycle in Deathloop is an opportunity to learn from the past and adapt to the future. The strongest weapon in the game is information. The player will come across clues along the journey, which become essential to eliminate the targets before the day starts again.

    It will be necessary to discover relationships, memorize schedules and listen to dialogues to be able to change fate and get the Visionaries to gather in the same place.

    When he arrives in the lobby, Colt is able to analyze and read all the clues he has gathered and, based on that, decide what the next step is. For those in a hurry who don’t want to read every clue, Arkane has created an interface that summarizes all the info. ormations collected and suggests some actions that can be done next on the island.

    Exploration in Blackreeaf

    Deathloop is a melting pot of references. The game draws on the source of Hitman and the way The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask deals with time. Link’s adventure is the basis of the concept of a one-day time cycle in the Arkane game, alongside All You Need is Kill

      , the manga that gave rise to the film. At the Limit of Tomorrow.

      Going from Japan to Hollywood in search of references, Deathloop builds an aesthetic with personality for his sets. The island of Blackreef is a retro-futuristic environment, inspired by the decade of 2021, which often resembles the scenarios of BioShock Infinite.

      Because it’s not a very big world, Arkane gained time to work well in each district. The four portions of the island have houses, roofs, corridors and all sorts of alternative routes for you to explore and eliminate enemies, whether stealthily or not.

      There are more than two or three ways to approach a target, either through the ceiling, through a secret door, or through the front door if you choose to embody a fearless Colt.

      It’s interesting how progressing requires creativity and rewards players who risk less usual options than in other shooting titles. The smartest solution is almost never to pick up a weapon and face one of the eight targets, the Visionaries, right away. Often, the solution to succeeding in Deathloop is to bet on the most playful alternative possible, such as breaking into a nightclub through the sewer, disturbing a fireworks show or discovering the nest of love of two characters.

        Deathloop uses vision in first person, as well as Dishonored (Image: Reproduction/Bethesda)

        Deathloop is a roguelike?

        The answer is yes… And no!

        Upon dying or completing a day, Colt loses all items, Residium and materials that were not infused to resist the turn of time. Every morning, the character wakes up drunk on the beach where you start the game to relive the same hours.

        What changes from one cycle to the next are the clues that the player goes gathering to devise the plan to kill the eight Visionaries for good, plus the ultimate upgrades gained by equipped and infused items that make Colt more lethal and powerful.

        The Back To Beginning Basis of the game, whether dying or not completing the assassination mission, leaves Deathloop with a roguelike face at first. But only at first.

        The game comes close to Hades as a new type of roguelike that motivates the player to repeat the same paths in exchange for getting stronger and knowing more about the story, but the real truth is that you can even live the same day in Deathloop. However, as I mentioned, the day will never be the same.

        Complete a mission or find a clue in 16 hours is like going through a level and causing changes in the structure of this game. New cutscenes are shown and possibilities open up. Effectively, each day is different, whether by new areas that can be accessed, by actions that Colt triggers in the timeline with past actions or discoveries made the day before.

        Repeating cycles could become monotonous at first. But eventually the experience of figuring out how to progress through a repetitive time cycle was rewarding.

        Worth the pity?

        If Deathloop were a dish of Brazilian cuisine, the game would be a couscous from São Paulo. A clear increment to the recipe that Arkane Lyon made in Dishonored, with a series of new ingredients that lead to a result that will please some, seem strange to others, but certainly be recognized as an exaggerated and risky bet for a new flavor.

        If you’re looking for action and raw fun in a shooting game, or still miss Dishonored, Deathloop will surely be one of the best games of 2021 for you. However, if your quest for thrilling stories, as in other PlayStation exclusives, the adventure doesn’t deliver what it takes to engage the player. The game’s plot and outcome don’t match the innovation potential of everything else.

        The title makes good use DualSense, PS5 controller. I dare say that Arkane understood Sony’s new controller better than other studios that have produced in recent months Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal and Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut. Which is even funny, if we think that one of the studios that has used the controller the best so far belongs to Microsoft.

        The use of tactile feedback and adaptive triggers are integrated into the gameplay . The controller’s speakers are used to surprise the player when Julianna appears to pester Colt in radio conversations.

        The main gameplay flaw is the quality of the enemies’ artificial intelligence. All of Colt’s antagonists are dumb. It’s not hard to find yourself in a situation where Colt will eliminate one enemy side by side, without any reaction being sketched out. Opponents also have difficulty chasing the protagonist, which makes the stealth a little awkward.

        Deathloop is different of anything else I’ve played lately. However, if you give yourself enough time to understand what Arkane has built for this new franchise, playing it becomes a fun and intriguing adventure.

        The game is available for PlayStation 5 and PC, temporary exclusive to Sony’s console.

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