“The two most powerful warriors are Patience and Time.” – Leo Tolstoy
I have played Deathloop for 20 hours now, and I have to say that I truly understand why people are upset. It isn’t because the game is bad, honestly, this game is accomplishing what it sets out to do just perfectly.
This is an Arkane studio game… That is a fault and a pro at the same time. If you expect Deathloop to break the mold and entirely change how Arkane games play and feel, it will not happen. If you do not like Arkane games, do not play this game.
I love the story, I really do. I think it’s a lot of fun, but I can acknowledge that it is objectively rather simplistic. There are some twists and turns along the way that I really enjoy but if you expect it to answer all your questions in a totally laid out way, then you won’t enjoy it. The game encourages you to make a lot of your own conclusions to understand it as a whole, which I honestly enjoy but I know a lot of people won’t. You get an ending that doesn’t leave you feeling a sense of conclusiveness, instead the game opts to give you an ending that makes you think “Oh wow. What’s next?” If you don’t want that, and if you are looking for a story that will give you all the answers and that will allow you to see every possibility in its own consolidated universe, you will not be satisfied.
Let me just get this one out of the way real quick, this is one of my favorite video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. I didn’t think that Arkane had it in them. Don’t get me wrong, I think the songs and orchestrations they used for Prey and Dishonored were pretty good and served the game fine but those are nothing compared to this. They create this concoction of big band, jazz, and rock that is just so magnificent that my ears don’t want to go back to anything else. They perfectly encapsulate the essence of a 60’s concert, with all the soul that comes with it. It’s awe inspiring.
Visuals and Aesthetics
The game looks exactly like how you would expect it to from all that was displayed previously, in the best way possible. You honestly and truly feel like you’re trapped in this simultaneously futuristic and antiquated world where they advanced scientifically enough to create machines straight out of a Terminator war zone, while also maintaining the aesthetic of a 60’s style spy movie or comic book. It honestly feels like another view of altered history, similar to Fallout 3-4 (except replace the barren wasteland with a loud and vivacious island). The game is stylized enough to make you realize you’re playing a unique art piece of a game, while also having these excellent visuals and set pieces that make you feel like you’re watching a new limited Sci-Fi series. Needless to say, I love it.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Here’s the heavy hitter. This game feels so amazing to play, it honestly gives you the experience of playing as a trained hitman with an arsenal good enough to take on a small army. And in some cases, you probably will take on a small army. It’s the moment when the game seems to be at its greatest, your health is low, your stealth operation has failed, you have one life left and you’re surrounded. This is it. This is your last chance to make the progress you need to break the loop and save yourself along with everyone else. Your only way out is to fight with whatever you have. And you here knocking and running, they’re coming for you and you’re stuck in a tiny corridor. Armed with only a couple of powers and a few weapons, what will you do? Will you take on the Eternalists or die trying with a shotgun, dual wielding SMGs, and the power to eat through bullets, blasting through them all as you’ve made your last stand? Or will you opt for a more silent and deadly approach, teleporting to a chandelier and setting up traps while you link your attackers fates and utilize a silent pistol to take them out with one shot? The choice is yours. I truly appreciate what they did with the power meter as well, choosing to replace the vials of Dishonored with a regenerating power source for your slabs and abilities. That’s just a thing that I personally prefer, I don’t like feeling like I’m on a limited power source only to hunt around the map looking for more energy once I’ve run out.
Okay listen, there is a reason I put that quote at the beginning. It wasn’t supposed to be edgy, there’s a catch. In this game the idea of “If at first you don’t succeed, die, die again” really hits home. The feeling of failing to do what you set out to do in a certain loop by either dying or just not being able to schedule things out properly is very bittersweet, because you know you can try again and you’ve learned from this one. With every death, with every loop you learn more. You restart your day stronger, not because of your arsenal but because of the knowledge you’ve gained within the previous loops. You feel more comfortable sneaking by enemies each time until you reach the point that you’re mowing down eternalists, and even Julianas, with total ease. You just need to be patient. The answers on how to move past certain blockades will come in time, and until then? Enjoy the ride. The bullet may be the same, but the kill will always be new. I hope you all take on the challenge and break the loop in Deathloop!