Arkane Studios is probably for many a name they primarily associate with the Dishonored series. And with good reason, because with 91 and 88 points respectively on Metacritic for the singles and the doubles, they have deserved their place as some of the better games in recent times. Both games are characterized by a lot of freedom, mysterious abilities and a lot of fun.
Deathloop takes a lot of the award-winning at Dishonored and puts its own touch on it – maybe a little inspired by the classic Groundhog Day? We are now in an exciting future (past?) Where we are trapped in a time loop, and our job is to break out of it. But is that really what we want?
The game goes on loop
When I first heard about Deathloop, my first thought was how in the world this pretty simple premise could turn into a real game. Then I started playing it, and the doubt moved to how this could be worth almost 700 kroner, and that for the cheapest version. It did not take long before I realized that the answer to my questions was hidden right in front of my nose – namely in the name of the game.
Deathloop is exactly what the name says: a loop when you die. There is also a loop when the day is over. And a loop when you have visited four sites once, one site four times, or a mix. In short, it’s loop on loop on loop.
In the beginning, this was pretty funny. It was a new and exciting element that made me have to think and plan a lot more than in other games. It was about getting as much done as possible in one day, and preferably also in a “round”. Eventually, when I realized that it did not matter how many days I spent, this feeling disappeared, and it became more annoying than entertaining.
The problem with how Deathloop is built on, is that there is very little continuity in the game. You jump into one of the four lanes, do what you have to do and jump out again. Rinse and repeat. Each time you step out of a level, it is back to base where you can look over the weapons you have, all the information and what the plan is next. And then it’s out to war again, but now the time is different and things have changed.
How the game is built on, however, is not just negative. It is terribly addictive. Since you experience the game in such small pieces at a time, it is a little too easy to think that you should just take one more round, or just finish the day – one more round quickly becomes two, and one day becomes many.
Almost like Dishonored, yes
Leaving aside the negatives of the loop, Deathloop is truly a fun game. Once you have figured out which course you want to play and have loaded, you are completely free to decide how you want to solve the mission. Or if you want to solve it at all. You do not have to actually complete a mission or a goal to be allowed to return to base.
The freedom you get is about everything from how you want to kill the enemy, whether you want to kill the enemy at all, whether you want to sneak to the target, break through with bullets and gunpowder and which way you want to go to the target. Maybe the easiest way is through the door, or maybe it’s through the window?
That the courses are very well designed does not hurt either.
No matter how you choose to play, you will be greeted with a particularly good gaming experience. The character you play as – either Colt or Julianna – moves just as it should regardless of whether you jump from roof to roof, fight your way through the enemy with a machete or jump around with your dash ability. The weapons are satisfactory to use – especially those intended for use during sneaking – and the many abilities you gain access to eventually open up for even greater opportunity to adapt the game to the style of play you prefer.
Lots of mystery
Deathloop is almost worth playing just for the dialogue between the main character Colt and the main villain Julianna. If there’s one thing Arkane Studios has achieved, it’s the chemistry between the two. It is in the conversations between these that large parts of Colt’s story are told. In small drops here and there you get to know more about the island you are on, what the time loop is and why you are here. This is further elaborated by various info you find around the island.
Although compared to other games it may not feel like there is that much history, it is told in a way that stimulates curiosity and makes one want to hear more, learn more. As mentioned earlier, Deathloop is very addictive. In addition, the game has more than enough personality and humor to compensate for the fact that there may not be much history.
Not just joy and glee
It’s hard not to compare Deathloop with Dishonored. In many ways, Deathloop just feels like a very rich DLC. Or maybe it is more appropriate to say that Deathloop feels as if it started its life as a DLC, but then was fluffed up and extended enough that a price tag of 660 kroner became acceptable. One of the downsides of the game is this. It should have been a little shorter, a little less repetitive and a little cheaper. Arkane Studios took a concept that did not really have enough fullness and stretched it out too thin.
As a patch on the wound, Deathloop includes a pretty decent multiplayer part. In multiplayer, you control Julianna, who in the main game works against you. Your job is simply to invade others’ games and either kill them or be killed. By doing this, you can level up and unlock new skills and weapons that can be used to invade other people’s games, both friends and strangers.
The multiplayer feels a bit thin – it seems like something they decided to add at the last minute. As I see it, it does not have a proper place in the game. Maybe you take a round as a break from the main game, but there is no incentive to make you want to spend time in the multiplayer. In addition, it depends on someone playing the main game and allowing others to invade them.
Not only has Arkane Studios stretched the concept a little too far, it also seems like they haven’t had enough time to complete the game completely. In addition to the fact that it crashes and freezes a little too often, there are many who complain that it is terribly poorly optimized on a PC. It should be mentioned that many believe the performance problems come from the use of Denuvo’s DRM protection and not the game itself. However, it is such a big problem that in several places it is recommended to wait with the purchase until after the problems have been fixed.
The enemies around the different courses also have their problems. They sometimes get stuck in walls, have less impressive AI and develop spontaneously, and most often prematurely, X-rays and super-hearing so they discover you long before they should.
Deathloop is far from perfect, but it’s still a very fun game. You get plenty of freedom to play the game the way you want, and a good selection of weapons and powers that you rarely run out of opportunities.
Good game mechanics
Lots of freedom
Fast a little repetitive and thin
Lack of optimization
Not the best multiplayer