My main genre of video games tends to be action, whether it is a first-person shooter or a third-person action-adventure, action titles have always pulled me in pretty easily. Outside of the realm of gaming, the Bond series has always had a spot in my heart.
The challenges that Bond faces with each new mission are always far too much for one person to handle, but somehow he does it. Similar to Bond comes a new game called Deathloop, the tale of how Colt, a one-man army, takes on impossible odds to break the time loop of Blackreef Island and get life back to normal. Could this possibly be the most ambitious game Arkane Studios has made? Let’s find out…
An Enriching, Mind-bending Story
Deathloop could possibly be one of the most interesting games ever created. Players take on the role of Colt Vaughn, after waking up from what seems like a horrible death, Colt has no memory of where he is or what is happening on this strange island named “Blackreef”.
Initial release date: September 14, 2021
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Composer: Tom Salta
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows
Genres: First-person shooter, Action-adventure game
At this point, Colt’s mind begins to race; “How long has this been happening?”, “How did I get here?”, “HOW THE HELL DO I LEAVE!?”.
When Colt is leaving the area he finds a Slab that gives him the power of “Reprise”. This power grants Colt the ability to die and respawn instantly twice without the loop resetting. Colt then comes to the decision to find out what the hell is happening on the island, breaking the time loop, and kill anyone in his way.
Your main goal is to kill a total of eight targets called “The Visionaries” during one time-loop cycle. By doing so, Colt will break the loop and be able to leave the island once and for all. If you don’t complete this, the loop will start over (same as if you die) and you will have to try to take down all eight Visionaries once again. Not only do you have this challenge ahead of you, but you also have to take on a ton of enemies, gun turrets, traps, and the crazy assassin Julianna.
Julianna isn’t there to just talk shit to you on the radio and help you along your way, her goal is to defend the destruction of the loop. When I say defend, what I really mean is kill your ass however she sees fit to stop you. Not only is it a challenge to face off against the AI version of her, but if you choose to play the game online you can be invaded by either random players or friends who have chosen to play as Julianna.
Gameplay Situations Force Players to Change
These invasions not only add to the already challenging circumstances but will make you think on your feet because Julianna seemingly becomes very unpredictable. During my first moments of playing the game, I was invaded multiple times and killed every time by the hands of Julianna. I was just trying to run and gun, find my target, kill them, then head to the next mission. . .but I kept having to start over because of me dying.
At first, I was becoming pretty irritated with this aspect of the game. I am a big run and gun guy, so usually when I’m playing games like Dishonored, instead of sneaking around I usually use my weapons and power to destroy all in my path. With Deathloop, there are a lot of areas in the world that will not just give you details on your targets but will also make you understand the island and the reason for the time loop better.
A major way in which they help you discover locations, targets, and use the information they have found is with the Leads menu. This menu helps lead you along your way with investigating hidden details, target locations and even more rare weapons on Blackreef. This Leads menu really comes in handy during the game, but I felt a lot of time more drawn to natural discovery, which was sometimes my downfall.
This sneaky style of gameplay was a major challenge for me. Due to how the game’s time loop is constructed, I kept finding myself in the same situations over and over again. Each target comes with a different time of day (Morning, Noon, Afternoon, or Night), if you don’t time your kills right or have the right amount of info, you will find yourself having to repeat the loop over and over again. This is when I slowed my roll, collected my thoughts, started to strategize my every move, and utilize the all-important Leads menu.
Deathloop’s Deeper Meaning
With having ADHD and dyslexia, it is very hard to focus on certain tasks at times. This is why it is easier at times for me to play games like DOOM, a straightforward, run and gun shooter. When I started playing Deathloop, my mind went into overdrive mode, then right to irritation, so I knew I had to start playing this game with more strategy and when I did…the outcome was so rewarding. Deathloop pushes gamers to become more meticulous and creative with every decision they make.
This isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill shooter, Deathloop is a well-drawn-out story driven work of art. By going against my instinct and changing the way I play, I found myself understanding the concept of the masterful world. Deathloop isn’t just about getting crazy kills or time loops, it is about discovering who you are and that even if you have made the same mistakes over and over you can still change your fate. This “Butterfly Effect” that Colt is trying to create takes time, but eventually, you find yourself becoming faster, better, stronger, and more knowledgeable by the end of the game.
I don’t know if this was Arkane’s goal with this story, but this game has not just changed the way I play games, it has changed the way I think about life. We all make mistakes in life, but if you keep making the same decisions, you will meet the same outcomes. Deathloop has taught me that we can hurdle over the challenges of life, as long as we change the way we think and take control of any situation.
Deathloop’s Gameplay is Like Dishonored on Steroids
The gameplay of Deathloop is solid as well, not only do you have tons of weapons and explosives to choose from, you also have Slabs you can acquire once you kill certain targets. These Slabs grant you powers like invisibility (Aether Slab), dealing more damage (Havoc Slab), teleportation (Shift Slab), Kill/Fate connection (Nexus Slab), and lastly the power to levitate items or enemies! (Karnesis Slab). These Slabs come in handy all throughout the game, the main Slabs I used were Nexus and Shift.
The Shift Slab is literally the same power from the Dishonored series, you can easily teleport roof to roof and makes traversal a breeze. It really comes in handy when trying to sneak up on a target an stealth kill an enemy. You can also add Trinkets you find after killing an enemies to your character in between missions. This add abilities like Double jump, increased health, faster crouching speed and more!
This isn’t the only tool in your arsenal thought, the weapons in Deathloop come in handy just as much as the powers do. Shotguns, pistols that shoot gas rounds, high-powered sniper rifles, even Dual-pistols that merge into one singular automatic weapon. Deathloop gives players so many ways to kill their foes. Let’s not forget the badges machete you can use to cut off the limbs and heads off said enemies. You can add Trinkets to these weapons as well and make your shots more on point, do more damage, reload quicker, and a hell of a lot more.
One of the most important resources in Deathloop is called Residiuum. It plays a vital roll in your journey as well, because it’s one of the core properties that make you into an absolute badass faster when the loop resets. Collecting Residiuum by either killing a Visionary or draining a Residiuum infused item you find in Blackreef MUST BE DONE. Once I died a few times and only respawned with one crappy weapon and no Slab Powers I knew I needed to build my Residiuum up and infuse my guns, Trinkets, and powers to my inventory. By doing this, the next time I died I was able to respawn with all the items I previously infused when the loop started over!
The PS5 Difference
So we have talked about the story, the art, and the music. Lastly, I want to talk about the gameplay and it’s mechanics. The gameplay is super smooth, but what makes it even is the added feature of the Dual Sense controller. No matter the terrain, the Dual Sense’s Haptic Feedback makes you feel like you are truly in the world.
I found myself switching from crouching, running, and sliding just to feel the Haptic Feedback’s rumble and sensations. This controller made you feel every step you took and it was just as wild as it sounds. Arkane also added Adaptive Trigger support to Deathloop. The triggers feel different every time you use them and is just one more thing to pull you into the wonderfully wild universe.
Depending on the weapon rarity you have, the lower rarity weapons have a higher tendency of jamming and the Adaptive Triggers will actually lock up until you get the jam fixed. Multiple times this happened to me during the beginning of the game and made me push myself to discover more of Blackreef just so I can find higher rarity weapons.
With that said, the Dual Sense controller changed my experience with the game, it was already cool enough to have the Adaptive Trigger and the Haptic Feedback, but the also added the radio support on the Dual Sense’s controller speaker.
While playing the game with my headset, it felt too much like Julianna was right next to me, but playing the game without the headset added a bit of realism to the world. While running through Blackreef and discovering info, there were times Julianna would contact you and having her speak through the controller was a nice addition to the overall feeling Blackreef was giving me.
Deathloop’s Showstopping Visuals Make it Feel Even More Like an Epic Bond Film
Deathloop doesn’t just offer players a gripping (or in my case life-changing) story, it also offers one of the most visually stunning games they have ever created. The graphical presentation is one of the best in its class. We played this review on the PS5 and using the performance mode got an output of 4K 60fps visuals. With the added visual quality the scenery and art style is spectacular. As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, Deathloop not only has a comparison to Bond’s over the top action, it also has a very beautiful and terrifying 60’s feel with its art style.
Just as in past Arkane titles, art and visuals are very important, every nook and cranny of Blackreef is filled with dark gritty scenery as well as bright and vibrant 1960’s Pop art style. It’s a wild but perfect mixture of visual attributes that truly paint the grand scope of how crazy and dark Blackreef Island can be. As I explored the island, I noticed so many easter eggs, hidden callouts to other franchises, and that wasn’t even the best part.
Though it was cool to see arcades themed around games like Doom, Wolfenstein, Dishonored, and more Bethesda titles, one of the best things was exploring the smart artistic touches the team put into this game.
The visual quality and artistic touch transported me directly into a wild 1960 movie set. Every cutscene and action packed moment blended perfectly with the unique art of this game, I really felt like I was living out a Bond set fantasy trying to take down all the baddies and save the world. Something else that blended perfectly with this world was the amazing music composed by Tom Salta.
An Amazing Soundtrack That Loops in Your Mind
The haunting, fast-paced music is some of the best I have heard in a game in years. The song Déjà Vu made by Sencit Feat is so good it just stays on repeat in your head. Since it was featured in a recent trailer, FJØR has also been racking my brain for the last few weeks. These are just two of what is an absolutely amazing soundtrack that serves to enhance the story and even gameplay situations.
Every high impact moment comes along with amazing music, a few times during my gameplay I was sneaking up on a target and would have Julianna invade my game. Right after she found out my location, the chase would begin and so would the music. This put me on the edge of my seat and really made the game more cinematic!