Deathloop (PS5) review: At first, you don’t succeed

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10.0 Loopy

This game offers what many game developers wish they could give players: Good fun, an intriguing story and flawless gameplay. It’s nice to see a hyped-up game launch without any technical snags, delivering on what it promised and genuinely offering players their money’s worth. 

  • Story 10
  • Gameplay 10
  • Graphics/Performance 10
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

If you do one thing before lockdown runs out: play Deathloop. No, seriously. If we weren’t here writing this review, we’d be playing Deathloop

The latest title by Arkane Studios, the ones who made Dishonored, brings a vivid 60s aesthetic and a wonderfully wacky storyline to PS5s and PCs this year. We reviewed the title on our PlayStation 5. 

If you played Dishonored, you’d know that Arkane loves to show off its brilliant formula consisting of dynamic combat, ingenious puzzles and expansive verticality. The wonderful thing about Dethloop is that it managed to improve on this formula without any real compromises. All of the different facets align beautifully, and this all makes Deathloop frickin’ incredible.

This is a game that’s easy to pick up but almost impossible to stop playing. We know our review comes a good while after initial global reviews — all of which claim that this could easily be game of the year. And we agree for one sole reason: Deathloop manages to offer something truly new, truly well-made and truly excellent without trying too hard. 

Groundhog day? Again?

There is a good long list of media that is built on the premise of ‘Groundhog Day’ — the instance of reliving the same day over and over — with no end in sight. 

Deathloop is set in Blackreef, a secret isle nestled in the North Atlantic somewhere. Here you’re free to traverse the four districts: The Complex, Karl’s Bay, Fristad Rock, and the urban sprawl of Updaam at different times of day (more on this mechanic later). The inhabitants of Blackreef go about their day (quite literally) without the fear of death, simply because a strange anomaly has made it so none of them can die. 

Okay, they may die – the normative rules don’t apply, though. The world will attempt to make that death swift, with things like poisonous gas and icy waters and ballistic turrets and too many weapons for one island. If the inhabitants (here they’re called The Eternalists) perish, they’ll wake up that same morning, ready to relive the same day again, with no memory of the previous day. That’s where the ‘loop’ bit comes in. 

Now, you’re tasked to break this loop. Easy, right?

You play as the charismatic Colt Vahn. You quickly find out that he is a former leader of The Eternalists called a Visionary. Initially, you won’t know why Colt has suddenly switched teams — because now he’s tracking down the other Visionaries to try and break the loop. 

Which in turn means that everyone (and we mean everyone) on this seemingly peaceful isle wants to kill you, the traitor. 

If ‘I’ll be back’ was a game

This makes the base mechanic of this game very clear: don’t die, find the target, end them. So it’s a stealth shooter, but Arkane has managed to pack this game full of nifty little gems, interesting mechanics, puzzles and a brilliant map system. 

The island features the four aforementioned districts — and within each, there are various possibilities, depending on the time of day.

Traversal, like getting around and such, is absolutely brilliant — and brings with it a fair amount of freedom and verticality to move around. Cole doesn’t need to stick to main roads, and sometimes shouldn’t. His main lair being the underground tunnels that he uses to get from one district to another. 

Still, players have a choice to drop into a gun battle and test out their firepower, or to sneak about and execute some of the most brutal stealth kills up close. The game doesn’t necessarily guide you through the maps, but it does drop hints in the form of text hovering about certain areas. 

There is no one singular, correct approach, really. You can easily just execute a Visionary without listening to their extended last words-speech, or you can ignore the path most travelled and miss most of the action. You do you. 

Scratching Visionaries off your hit list is a major part of the game’s mechanics — and it’s no easy task. Each Visionary killed will award you with a slab. This is essentially a mystical artefact that affords you special abilities like teleportation or invisibility. 

There’s also Julianna, your arch-nemesis who you regularly converse with over radio. It seems you have a real love-hate relationship with the strange unknown force. She also wants you dead, coincidentally. 

She will periodically invade your game, too, masquerading as an everyday Eternalist before furiously engaging. Though you’re (sadly) not able to absorb her Masquerade Slab, she may be carrying a cool weapon, Slabs from other Visionaries, and usually a butt-ton of Residuum, so taking her down before she finishes you off never goes unrewarded.

All’s not lost… ever

Starting over once you’re dead may sound like a massively tedious task. It does mean that all the Eternalists you killed to get to the Visionary who just gunned you down will have to be killed again. But there’s an upside. 

Colt will remember all the key info you learn while exploring different maps at different times of day. Exploration will also reveal side-quests in the form of notes and audio recordings. That’s not even mentioning the puzzles and minigames found throughout the districts. 

When a loop restarts, you’ll lose all your cool weapons, trinkets – individual character and weapon perks that help you tailor your loadout for each mission – and powers, but thanks to that aforementioned Residuum, you’ll be able to “infuse” and retain your favourite items every time you loop, too. It means every single run – even the ones that end in plummeting to your doom – will be useful. It’s just up to you to decide what weapons and perks you’re prepared to invest in.

So, essentially, every district changes according to the time of day, which makes for endless places to explore and research. Each will offer new information depending on the time of day, and offer different missions. You’re offered much more than just four maps — this is a brilliant way to expand on an existing environment. 

Deathloop PS5 Verdict

This game offers what many game developers wish they could give players: Good fun, an intriguing story and flawless gameplay. It’s nice to see a hyped-up game launch without any technical snags, delivering on what it promised and genuinely offering players their money’s worth. 

It brings with it tonnes of freedom to play the game the way you want to, along with interesting characters and a beautifully designed setting. 

  • Deathloop was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 console
  • Review code provided by Gamefinity
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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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