In the last decade, Arkane Studios has made a lot of contributions to the immersive sim genre alone, whether they’re award-winning games like Dishonored 2 or criminally underrated cult classics like 2017’s Prey. Deathloop, a “murder puzzler” set on the remote island of Blackreef, where a mysterious time loop resets daily, was released in 2021. A single day in the game requires Colt to find eight different “Visionaries” to eliminate. If you do this, you’ll be able to break the time loops.
A reset will occur if you are unable to complete this task (or if you die during the attempt). By searching for information and pursuing leads, you can herd multiple Visionaries into one location in order to increase the efficiency of your executions. Meanwhile, you’ll be pursued by Julianna, who will resist your attempts to break out of the loop. Julianna is an AI enemy by default, but she can be controlled by other players if you play online.
It’s safe to say that Deathloop is one of the most innovative and unique immersive sims ever created. In terms of gameplay, level design, presentation and writing, the game is nothing short of a triumph.
Despite the fact that Deathloop has a lot to recommend it, its gameplay is by far the most appealing. Because this is an immersive sim, there are multiple ways to explore the world and engage in combat. Even if some approaches are better than others, everything from moving stealthily through levels unnoticed to going on a gun-blazing rampage is perfectly viable (especially when fighting Visionaries, as each one poses a unique threat). Deathloop also has a smooth gameplay experience, which sets it apart from other games in the genre. When it comes to melee combat, it’s brutal and satisfying. Guns are snappy, and Colt’s slides and clambers are responsive. Considering Arkane’s previous work, it’s not surprising that Deathloop exceeds expectations.
Either way, this game’s gameplay and story have excellent progression. Slabs and Trinkets, which boost stats and unlock abilities such as invisibility and Dishonored-style teleportation, are obtained as you complete time loops, allowing you to obtain powerful weapons and armor. This includes advanced weapons with unique characteristics, such as a machine gun that causes explosions with each headshot.
You can also find advanced weapons and equip them. These items are lost if the player completes a game loop, but players can “infuse” items to make them permanent. Each loop will increase your strength and allow you to kill Visionaries and their henchmen more effectively. Julianna will use these unlocks against you when she invades your levels, but if you defeat her, you’ll get her kit, along with a ton of resources, if you succeed.
There are waypoints and reminders in the game to help you keep track of what needs to be done in order for multiple Visionaries at one location. However, in retrospect, these aids prevented me from having to juggle an overwhelming amount of information while playing the game. Despite the fact that I had to put in a lot of effort in order to succeed, I never once felt lost.
Deathloop’s level design is equally impressive. In each level, you’ll find dozens of secrets, routes, and hidden paths to explore, and depending on the time of day you visit them, new paths will open up that reveal previously hidden sub-areas. Each level is also designed to accommodate a variety of play styles, including cover for intense gunfights and plenty of hiding spots for stealth.
There was also something appealing about the way Deathloop presented itself. Despite its retro-futuristic ’60s aesthetic, Blackreef feels like a satirical parody of the way the island’s residents abuse time loops to indulge in endless debauchery from dawn until dusk. Aside from that, Deathloop features Arkane’s classic stylized visuals, which fans have come to know and love over the years. When players go on their killing sprees, they’ll hear everything from smooth guitar tones to slick electronica.
Another plus: the storyline of Deathloop has a lot of interesting characters, twists in the plot and funny moments. When Colt and Julianna fight, you’ll learn about their strange, disturbing, and comical personalities as you figure out how to efficiently kill the Visionaries. However, Colt and Julianna’s dialogue could be a bit frantic at times, and it was difficult to keep up with their rapid-fire exchanges.
Although Deathloop is a game I enjoy, there are a few things I dislike about it. Although the graphics and visuals of Deathloop are stunningly beautiful and stylish, they don’t make up for how demanding the game is in terms of hardware specifications. To run the game at 1080p 60FPS on high settings, Bethesda says you’ll need an i7-9700K, an NVIDIA RTX 2060, and 16GB of RAM, which seems excessive for a stylized PC game like this. While my NVIDIA RTX 3070 and 32GB of RAM i7-9700K rig managed to maintain 60FPS on high settings with an ultrawide 1440p monitor, I kept getting VRAM usage warnings (trying to use ray tracing nosedived performance).
Only AMD FSR is available, and while it does help a little, it’s far less effective than NVIDIA DLSS 2.0 upscaling, which would make the game’s demanding requirements less of an issue for most people. In the absence of DLSS 2.0, I (and many others) will not be able to use ray-traced lighting at high settings without experiencing significant performance hits, which is disappointing.
Also, I had a few noticeable performance issues while playing the game on the PC during my time with it. A significant FPS drop into the 20s that I couldn’t fix without restarting the game was the worst of these, although this only happened once. As I progressed through the levels, the game stuttered in some places as I played.
Not having NVIDIA DLSS 2.0 and a few minor performance issues aren’t ideal for a game of this caliber, but they’re not deal breakers. In addition to its exceptional gameplay, its style, world, and level design are all outstanding, and its writing intrigues the gamer from beginning to end. Is there anything more you could ask for in a virtual world?
Since Deathloop is one of the best PC games available at the moment, I can’t wait to see how the Julianna PvP invasions in online mode spice up the experience once the game is publicly released and I begin a second playthrough of the game in the future. In the end, Arkane has created something unique and special with Deathloop, and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone.
- Rarely feels repetitive
- Fascinating structure
- Boundless style
- Shooting can be sticky
- minor graphical glitches
Deathloop is available for $60 on PC(Steam) and PS5, and it’s expected to eventually launch on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in 2022 as well.