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Deathloop review

Life's a beach and then you die (again and again)

Deathloop review
14 September 2021

Deathloop has finally arrived. The game, exclusive to the PS5 and PC users, is the latest from Arkane Studios, the makers of Dishonored. It's a game that promises the immersive gameplay of its bedfellows, but within a whole new IP - one that looks like nothing else before it.

It's a first-person shooter where you play someone stuck in a time loop. Now, the idea of playing a game where you are stuck in an endless loop isn't new. In fact, Returnal, released earlier in the year, had a similar theme - albeit with much more serious, horrific results.

But where the premise lacks originality, there is a ton of world building in Deathloop that makes the game a joy to play. It's a world you will really want to visit again and again.

Here are 5 things to know about Deathloop...

1. You play Colt and, at the start, he's as clueless as you are

Deathloop review

We knew we were in for a mystery treat with this game when the Deathloop package we were sent came with its own corkboard style mess of clues and string and pins to connect ideas and people together. And we weren't wrong. Starting on a beach (and not a nice one), on the remote island of Blackreef, you play Colt who is injured and has no idea quite what is going on.

Soon, after Colt gets his bearings and start remembering things, it become a little clearer: it turns out it's your job to slay eight Visionaries (so-called 'geniuses') over the course of a day. They have created a hedonistic, party-like atmosphere on the island and if you fail the mission then time resets and you have to do the whole thing over again.

Oh, and there is another assassin on the prowl, called Julianne, who is out to outdo you and is the one who is responsible for stabbing you in the chest.

2. Time resets often but you are happy to re-play

Deathloop review

Unlike Returnal where the time loop idea had some horrific consequences, Deathloop has fun with pressing reset. The game treats the concept like the bit in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray just starts playing around, messing with people because he knows he has endless time to kill.

You start to use the resets to gather more clues, have more fun in the four very different areas of the island and argue more and more with Julianne who is a presence on a radio link.

The reset also means that you start to understand the 'targets' you need to kill - figure out how their days go and start to paint a picture of how the hell you are going to assassinate everyone you need to in one single day.

3. Things are bigger than they seem

Deathloop review

Walking around Blackreef is a joy. It's a madcap place that, at first, seems a little small. There are four areas to find the eight Visionaries and when you first visit these places, while they look fantastic, they feel quite insular - but there is, thankfully, much more beneath the surface that each reset helps you understand.

Each Visionary is an uber-rich eccentric and the places and lives they have built for themselves are, well, bonkers. The level design here is just utterly majestic and it allows you to approach each of the assassinations a little differently each time you go in for the kill.

Whether stealth or all-out shooting is your thing, both are welcomed and both are just as enjoyable.

4. Levelling up really works - it's when the magic happens

Deathloop review

While this is a game all about resetting, each time you re-do the day some things stick with you. If, for instance, you kill a Visionary, then whatever particular skill they have you inherit. These are called Slabs and are like magic powers for Colt - teleporting, invisibility and the like.

Annoyingly, they do disappear when you die, but you can 'buy' them back once you have the power - as with all the firepower you amass - which makes for a fun but frustrating dynamic.

The good news is, there's a rewind option that can be used up to three times, which stops you going through another loop in short succession.

5. Everything about Deathloop screams FUN

Deathloop review

If you have played an Arkane Studios game - Dishonored, Prey - then you know what you are getting with Deathloop. The gameplay is immersive, the powers you can take on immense, but there's an extra layer of fun here. The games doesn't take itself seriously, has a roster of characters that will make you smile and the dialogue is scripted to perfection.

Add to this Julianne, a thorn in your side for most of the game - when Deathloop in played online, she can be played by others but she is an AI enemy for the most part. She is hunting you and turns up when you least expect. It's an original dynamic that adds another layer to what is already quite a complex game.

Deathloop: Final Verdict

Deathloop review

You might want to shoot your way through the game, or just use bombs and stealth. You might focus more on unravelling the mystery than the Visionaries but that's the joy with Deathloop. However you play the game, you are in for a treat.

The retro-future look of Blackreef is garish, decadent - much like the uber-rich that populate the game. It's also a place that you don't mind coming back to again and again... and again.

Buy Deathloop now for the PS5.