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Posted on September 19 2021

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Ok so first of all, you know what Deathloop is about already. You've seen the trailers. There were so many of them. And the thing is, it was the same trailer. Over and over again. A little ironic when you think about it. You're stuck in a timeloop on an island with 8 other people and you have to kill all of them to break the cycle. The only problem is, 8 is a really big number and you only have a day to do it. Your super power then, is retention - poke as many holes in the visionaries' schedules as you can and force them to be in the same place for easy pickings.

Have you seen the trailer yet. Do you know what the game is about? If you don't, have no fear, there is a trailer to tell you what the game is about.

The first thing that surprised me about Deathloop was just how Dishonored it was. Contrary to the bombastic trailers, sneaking around with a machete and a blink slab makes for a rather convincing cosplay of Corvo. It's the typical Arkane fare that you're used to - sprawling, intricately detailed worlds filled to the brim with surprises to uncover. Scouring every inch of the map, leaving no desk unturned, will reward you with information, weapons or maybe just a funny moment.

Like with another time-bending game, it's not necessarily about the big picture, but perusing individual strands of the tapestry before finding out they weave together nicely. Each loop is about becoming familiar with each visionary: what makes them tick, what their schedules are and how you can manipulate them into lining up for your crosshairs. All of this is made rather explicit, with mission descriptions and huge objective markers which means it can feel like you're following the dotted line, but it's still satisfying to watch everything come together - especially at the end.

Really, it feels like Deathloop's premise is there simply to support Arkane's levels, which is totally fine by me. There are only four of them, but they're gigantic, dense affairs. It's easily the game's biggest strength. There are some great set pieces that I can't talk about, but you have to trust me when I say this is Arkane at their best. Even in the last few hours, Blackreef still found ways to surprise me.

One thing that's worth mentioning is how Deathloop approaches its stealth. Bodies disappear when you kill them, leaving a barely visible puff of smoke. That's a pretty big deal, because now Stealth's stocks have gone up by a LOT. No need to shift bodies around or hide them in dumpsters for the most part. So long as an unsuspecting guard doesn't directly intercept with your handiwork, you should be fine. And that's really cool, because sneaking around for hours upon end would not be a great fit for the rapid iteration of each loop. It feels like a stealth game that is desperate to not waste your time.

And what happens when you do get spotted? Well you can't quick save or quick load or any of that nonsense. There aren't any checkpoints either. That's right, when you get spotted in Deathloop, you have to fight. Acting beyond getting spotted is necessary, doable and a lot of fun. The guns are great to shoot, at least the few of them that I actually shot, and the enemy AI is just smart enough to present a challenge. But like, hang on, let's go back a bit. Arkane managed to make a stealth game that forced me to play past my mistakes... and I actually liked it? This is huge. Let it be known I am a quick save gremlin. It doesn't matter the game - Hitman, Dishonored, Deus Ex - whenever I press the F5 key on my keyboard it makes a squeaking noise. Every encounter goes from "okay, this time I'll not get spotted" to murderising an entire party of foxes at a rather impressive speed and I don't know, as strange as that sounds, it's pretty cool. I think a lot of it is down to the premise and setting - you're on an island full of terrible people and you're there explicitly to kill them. There's no stupid chaos system or any of that nonsense. Go nuts. Technically, you're not even killing them, they'll be back the next day.

I.. uhhh... didn't take any screenshots, so here's the Deathloop trailer again.

By the way, the music? Slaps. Incredibly hard. I'm so glad that we're out here with brass instruments every time Colt gets spotted because... why were we not doing this before? It's excellent and does all the cool-kid things like blending in with the action and playing ominously when you're sneaking around. The voice acting is another highlight, as I'm sure you've heard from Literally The Entirety Of Twitter, but it really is great. Colt and Juliana bounce well off one another and are always entertaining to listen to.

The only complaint I have? It's too easy. This is very strange, because I don't think I've had that complaint about a video game before. Once I got the silenced UZIs, and the blink slab, that was me set for the entire game, but maybe that's the point. A big part about Deathloop is acquiring the arsenal to take on the 8 Visionaries and come the end, you're a one-man army. It fulfils the idea the original Dishonored had, using your abilities to wreck havoc in all sorts of fun ways, while stabbing people in the face. It's like those videos on YouTube of someone zipping around a Dishonored level at the speed of light, but you're the one doing it.

There is no difficulty slider or anything like that, and part of me is glad that's the case. Like with many games like this, the difficulty comes from the player, rather than the game. The "no powers playthrough" is quite infamous in the Dishonored circles - probably something that'd be a lot of fun for Deathloop as well. That silenced SMG, is quite broken too. I found myself strolling through levels, nonchalantly headshotting people, leaving enough processing power in my brain to think about the Big Tasty. So really, a huge plus, all things considered.

If I was going to do another playthrough - or if I was going to recommend you play this game, which I do - then I'd suggest ditching the blink slab and the silenced SMG and trying to get through the game without that. There were a lot of times where it felt like I was just skipping content, a la Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, where the only thing that stands between you and your objective is a single ventilation shaft. In a few years when I read PC Gamer's "Top 10 levels In All Of Video Games" and Alexis' party is on the list I'm going to be very confused indeed, because every time I attended I left having annihilated the entire guest list. I'm sure there were a lot of cool things to figure out that the developers spent hours upon hours lovingly hand-crafting too. Oh well.

So yeah, Deathloop. Fun game. Highly recommended. I'm sure there's lots more that I can talk about, but honestly it's an absolutely monumental achievement already that I've made a post without spoilers, so, really, you're benefitting quite a bit from this, you're welcome. See you later.