Review cover Deathloop (Computer)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

  • Release Date (NA): September 14, 2021
  • Release Date (EU): September 14, 2021
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Developer: Arkane Studios
  • Genres: FPS
  • Also For: PlayStation 5

Game Features:

Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative
Arkane’s anticipated next-gen, AAA timelooping FPS is out now! Does it live up to the expectations?

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When I first booted Deathloop, my character was staring into the eyes of an attractive woman who was… stabbing him to death! Shortly afterwards, he woke up on a beach, unscathed, believing that it was all but a dream turned nightmare following too many a drink. But the protagonist couldn't seem to even recall his name nor what he was doing on the beach.

By exploring his surroundings further, he learns that his name is Colt and is in some sort of messed up Groundhog Day version of a loop. He also quickly gathers that Julianna, the pretty lady at the beginning, is mad at him for some reason; so much so that she is willing to kill Colt over and over again, and have him relive the same day again on loop, thanks to some supernatural forces emanating from the Isle of Blackreef where you are located.

Will you be able to help Colt break this deadly loop and make sense of what the hell is going on? Only one way to find out: venture forth in Blackreef and take down Julianna, even if it means reliving the same day on repeat.

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I was honestly a bit skeptical about Deathloop’s premise given the central aspect of the time loop. You can only have so much fun in one day, right? Well, I’m glad I was wrong as developer Arkane Lyon subverted my expectations by constantly mixing things up to prevent things from getting stale fast. Sure, you’ll get to see the same locales from previous loops but you’ll also get to see them from a different angle, sometimes literally and most of the time, figuratively thanks to new abilities you acquire.

Those re-runs are not only part of the plot but also part of the gameplay mechanic. Once night falls, you'll wake up at the beach again the following morning but this time, you'll have new leads that you’ve uncovered during the previous run. With this newfound information, you can focus your investigation on this new day so as to find a strategy to break the loop. In doing so, you will discover new places, find more useful information, gain better abilities to assist you, uncover the happenings on Blackreef as well as your own role in it all. While Deathloop’s gameplay revolves around a basic loop of gain leads, explore and repeat, it is cleverly executed to make the runs feel fresh.

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What also makes the gameplay feel fresh are the abilities you acquire. These are obtained from Slabs by offing the Visionaries, who are key to breaking the loop. The abilities vary from teleporting across short distances to being quasi-invisible and they not only help you in combat against the Eternalists lackeys but also to progress during your runs. 

Deathloop’s open-ended exploration further lets players tackle objectives with a generous freedom of playstyles. Stealthily sneak past enemies or distract them with an alarm? Go in guns blazing or creep behind foes to stab them? These are all viable, and encouraged, options in Deathloop, and trying out varied approaches adds a layer of fun to the overall gameplay; especially once you gather new, otherworldly abilities.

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Moreover, from the intel you gather, you will need to revisit areas at different times of the in-game day. And even if you've visited a place before, you won’t be able to totally rely on muscle memory as different events might be taking place based on the time of day. This means that a previously safe area in the morning might be littered with Eternalists during the evening. But whatever the case, there’s always more than one way to proceed and it’s up to you to find the optimal one based on your playstyle; so keep your eyes peeled to devise a strategy of your own!

Arkane Lyon found another way to shake things up despite the looping mechanic: Julianna. She can randomly invade the district you're in to hunt you down and she can be played by other players (or yourself) in online mode. It’s a nice touch to further help diversify the game but can feel intimidating initially. However, successfully killing her will reward you with powerful weapons, a hefty amount of Residuum (which you can use to keep items across loops), or even Slab upgrades.

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In tandem with its original premise and gameplay, Deathloop as a whole is complemented by the stellar voice acting of Colt and Julianna. The tense and often frenemy-esque relationship between the hunter and the hunted is expertly conveyed by their vocal exchanges which often share a humorous tone despite the life-or-death stake at play. However, I wish that the other cast would also engage in more such exchanges with Colt as the Visionaries and their unique personalities also generate intrigue.

Adding to the presentation is, of course, the game's detailed and often quirky environment representative of Deathloop's own unconventional universe. You'll find tidbits to uncover in chat logs, unkempt underground tunnels filled with Colt's loop-breaking schemes, and even an in-game LARP setting. The environmental storytelling is a feast for the eyes, especially if you have an eye for details.

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Nevertheless, despite Arkane Lyon’s notable effort to diversify the gameplay, one can feel the grind over time. You’ll still need to take out the same Visionaries and sneak across familiar areas throughout the game. While I didn’t mind it as much given how Deathloop makes a genuine effort to mix things up, I can still see it being a potential issue for others.

Additionally, given the freedom of playstyles that Deathloop allows and even encourages, it’s surprising that there are no maps to speak of in this game. Having one would help to plan approaches or even progress in certain missions that require more thorough exploration.

It’s also worth noting the performance issues that the PC version of the game experienced at launch. While these have been addressed and I did not encounter such issues myself, it would have been best for the developers to further polish the PC version prior to release.

These issues aside, Deathloop eventually lives up to the expectations by delivering an original, AAA experience that will surely be remembered as one of Arkane Lyon’s greatest.

DEATHLOOP - Official Launch Trailer: Countdown to Freedom

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Original concept
  • Freedom of playstyles
  • Re-runs are kept impressively fresh
  • Main cast’s voice acting
What We Didn't Like ...
  • No maps
  • Eventual feeling of grind over time
9
Gameplay
While re-runs are a central part of its gameplay, Deathloop is kept surprisingly fresh with its progression mechanic.
9
Presentation
Deathloop is equal parts open-ended exploration in detailed environments, freedom of playstyles and excellent voice acting for Colt and Julianna.
8
Lasting Appeal
Even if things do feel grind-y over time, the way the gameplay is kept fresh helps in redeeming it and you’ll also be enticed to try unlocking Deathloop’s alternate endings.
8.5
out of 10

Overall

Deathloop makes re-runs fun like never before.
It was fun while it lasted. Platinumed in 20 hours of game play. Not really anything to do after that other than to invade peoples games.
 
I guess it's sorta taking Majora's Mask's premise and making it an FPS game. I think this style has potential for more studios to try it out. Not that I've, uh, played either Deathloop or Majora's Mask yet.
 
Great game, I am approx. halfway through at the moment - takes two to three hours to figure out how it's going to work, but then it's pretty straightforward. Leveling up your stuff makes the upcoming loops easier and you learn how to navigate the sections efficiently. Gonna finish it this week, probably
 
Review cover
Product Information:
  • Release Date (NA): September 14, 2021
  • Release Date (EU): September 14, 2021
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Developer: Arkane Studios
  • Genres: FPS
  • Also For: PlayStation 5
Game Features:
Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative

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General chit-chat
Help Users
  • Julie_Pilgrim @ Julie_Pilgrim:
    "very dark scenes are more common than very bright scenes" not in the games i play
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    really have to buy the top end model to get a tv that doesnt have any of those compromises and that would've had more dimming zones too but i am not made o money
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    @Julie_Pilgrim "very bright" is essentially pure white
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    pure white doesn't show up all that much it's mainly when looking at a bright sky
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    and if the clouds in the sky have slightly less definition to them because i turned on the contrast enhancer who cares
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    that's not important
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    i can't tell the difference
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    but i can certainly tell the difference with black crush if i'm watching a scifi movie and i can't see wtf is going on
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    Human vision is logarithmic, it's not linear. And nits doesn't tell the whole story of perceived brightness. OLED'S look brighter then LCD's even when both are set to the same nit values because of the higher contrast ratio on OLED's
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    OLED's have a 3D look
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  • kenenthk @ kenenthk:
    Charging port is more likely to fry up or battery fail before the display tbh lol
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    "And nits doesn't tell the whole story of perceived brightness" it's not about perceived brightness it's about all HDR content in TV and movies being mastered for 1000 nits so it doesn't look right with anything lower, it's also about dynamic range
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  • The Real Jdbye @ The Real Jdbye:
    "OLED's have a 3D look" no they don't lol
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    As an owner of a OLED and you saying that you never seen an OLED I think I know what I'm talking about lol. I'm not talking about 3D as in 3D glasses. I'm talking about depth and pop in the picture
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  • kenenthk @ kenenthk:
    I mean to be fair og vitas are still kicking and not many have suffered from pixel bleed and they're going on nearly 10 years
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    OLED's can get away with a lower peak brightness and still provide punchy HDR because of their contrast ratio. Like I said human vision is logarithmic. The higher the peak brightness the diminishing returns in perceived brightness.
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  • kenenthk @ kenenthk:
    Just get 5 years enjoyment out of it until Nintendy releases something and everyone forgets about switch games lol
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    @The Real Jdbye Oleds hit around 750 nits nowadays. The difference between a 1000 nit and a 750 nit isn't huge. It's only about a 4% increase in perceived brightness. Not huge at all. You'll need at least 2000 nit displays to notice a bigger difference.
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  • SG854 @ SG854:
    Read this thread it explains it. 1000 nits is not a huge jump from 750 the LG OLEDs can hit. As I said human vision is non linear.
    +2
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  • mr_switch @ mr_switch:
    Not exactly 3D but the colors does pops out more
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  • mr_switch @ mr_switch:
    I just want a true dark mode theme
    for OLED Switch
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  • Julie_Pilgrim @ Julie_Pilgrim:
    yeah honestly i hate how the only two switch theme options are blinding holy light of god or grey
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  • El_Doot @ El_Doot:
    Kill eyes OR bore eyes to death
    +1
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  • Julie_Pilgrim @ Julie_Pilgrim:
    switch dark mode is ok i just wish it was a bit darker
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    Julie_Pilgrim @ Julie_Pilgrim: switch dark mode is ok i just wish it was a bit darker