Born. Move. Learn. Kill. Die. Repeat. Like it or not, we base almost all video games on these six moments. Every self-respecting creative has tried at least once to make these unwritten laws their own. Among this host of crazy visionaries, I can’t help but count Arkane Studios. The French studio has always followed its path, despite those market logic that often end up strangling any creative ambition. They were once again called upon to outdo itself and enrich Sony’s stock portfolio with a new rampant exclusive. But how do you innovate in a world where every road seems taken? Reinterpret the six commandments of the video game, reverse their order, make their succession chaotic and, above all, always try to surprise the player. Here is my Deathloop review on PlayStation 5!
RELIVING THE SAME DAY
Waking up after a good night is always a bit problematic, but this seems to be much more so than the others. A few confused images show you, for a few moments, a woman who seems to be intent on killing you! A few seconds later, you wake up on a mysterious beach, with more body aches than you remember. Where are you? What are you doing here? Who else is with you? And above all, who are you?
Your protagonist doesn’t seem to remember any of this. However, in a short time, you begin to realize that you have a strange familiarity with almost everything around you, especially with weapons. One thing, however, is virtually impossible to ignore. This island has something radically different from any other place in the world: a time loop. In short, a group of seven scientists has created a phenomenon that, in practice, makes every inhabitant of Blackreef relive the same day.
This phenomenon erases their memories at each new beginning and guaranteeing to all a real immortality. The way to interrupt this endless cycle of death and rebirth is to kill all seven scientists, but within just 24 hours. Will it be a walk in the park? Far from it, but you crave freedom. If you have to blow some heads to get it, so much the better.
ADVENTURES OF COLT
Take note that you are playing as Colt. His desire for freedom is at least as great as his memory lapse. The memories will slowly begin to surface, but always after having performed certain actions. Every time you die or reach the end of the 24 hours, the cycle will restart, canceling everything you have done during that day. This means that the characters will perform the same actions again.
How, then, do you kill seven people in such a short time? The collection of information in Deathloop will be of vital importance. Each of these eccentric scientists has their whims and their weaknesses. You will have to exploit them to make them meet in the same place or to sabotage some of their devices as well. Colt will have to collect documents and listen to the many recorded messages scattered around the four districts of Blackreef.
In Arkane Studios’ title, you must also discover codes, open safes, and even listen to conversations between simple guards. The clues are practically everywhere. However, everything will depend on how you interpret them. In this respect, each character turns out to be characterized as better than one could wish.
ARMED TO THE TEETH
As previously mentioned, the targets to be taken out are seven. They are all very distant from each other and armed to the teeth. The time available is anything but generous. Arkane Studios divided Blackreef into four different areas. You can explore them for as long as you deem necessary. Each scientist will be available in their district only at certain times of the day.
Julianna will be there to complicate your plans. She will invade your games by blocking the escape routes and, in essence, adding another formidable opponent to deal with. Both the AI can play your antagonist and by another online player. Take note that this is Arkane’s first, true approach to multiplayer.
What can Colt count on? On a large arsenal of weapons and, of course, on a whole series of powers that every lover of Arkane titles will recognize immediately. At the beginning of Deathloop, you can only count on a small light machine gun. However, in a short time, you can add pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, and magnum pistols. Take note that they are all well characterized by the vibrations of the DualSense.
Each weapon has slots for power-up tags. If collected and equipped, they can improve both your weapons and the statistics and abilities of the protagonist. As soon as you kill one or more scientists, you can get hold of their Slabs. These are mysterious objects that attribute powers to the possessor. Yes, you can upgrade Slabs. However, premature death and the end of the loop will reset your inventory.
As with Dishonored, you will always have the option of choosing your approach in Deathloop. Silent and lethal or chaotic and noisy. Arkane Studios designed the weapons and powers to embrace both play styles, resulting in many possible combinations. But let’s analyze the stealth phases more in depth. Here you will face mechanics that are all in all simple, not overly deep and, therefore, easy to master.
Take note that the AI sometimes can give some frustrating moments. It will very often happen that very distant enemies immediately sight you. Sometimes, they cannot even see you, as a wall or a door covers them. Also, when you shoot and alert a group of guards, other nearby NPCs will remain in total indifference. There have been many times when my plans have failed miserably in such situations.
While dealing with firefights in Dishonored, it almost always meant certain death. However, in Deathloop, things are a little different. With the right arsenal and the right powers, in fact, no enemy will be truly unbeatable. The behaviors of NPCs are often reckless and, if you know how to take advantage of it, you will be able to get rid of entire hosts of enemies. In the more advanced stages of the game, there is an imbalance in favor of your Colt.
Just have a silenced gun, and the power of invisibility becomes a reality. You can take out anyone without even the danger of being discovered. Furthermore, on Playstation 5 there is a notable presence of the aim assist which turns into a real “headshot factory”. Of course, it is possible to adjust this parameter, but what has just been said points out some hitboxes that are not always very precise. The gunplay, however, remains very enjoyable.
What is the definition of madness? By doing the same thing again and again, hoping that something changes. Normally, this would be absolutely synonymous with boredom, but it is precisely here that Deathloop reaches its creative peak. Revisiting the same place several times in a day is never an end in itself. This actually allows you to discover some of the most hidden details of Blackreef.
In this respect, Deathloop is undoubtedly Arkane Studios’ most mature work. By exploring the alleys, landscapes and buildings of the four areas available, you can always find new ways to get to the target. You can also find new ways to get rid of enemies and, above all, many possibilities to give vent to your creative streak, with murderous purposes, of course.
The game will guide you by indicating the sequence of actions that you will have to perform to complete the main plot. As soon as you have memorized the arrangement of the enemies on a map at a certain time of day, maybe you may begin to feel an aftertaste of repetition. However, this may be the best time to explore, fully savoring the masterful level design of the French studio.
I have deliberately left the more technical analysis of the Arkane Studios title for last. However, even in this case, there are a few words to say. From an exquisitely graphic point of view, Deathloop is perhaps the PlayStation 5 exclusive that least screams miracle. Of course, it is undeniable that the technical leap with any other work of the developer is remarkable.
Something that really stands out here is the aesthetic care of the game environments. The developers have carefully finished every single detail. When moving between the various districts, it is possible to notice a variety of styles ranging from a purely vintage 60s matrix to another almost industrial setting. Deathloop is arguably Arkane’s least gloomy game, and the chosen color palette is an obvious demonstration of this.
There is also no lack of easter eggs and citations to other media, which will delight the older geeks, together packaged with an excellent soundtrack. Wanting to dwell one last time on the technical aspect, the PlayStation 5 version of the game offers three different settings. First, performance, which provides dynamic 4K scaling, no Ray tracing, and stable 60 fps.
Second, visual quality, which provides the same previous standards but with a greater preference for graphics performance. Third, ray tracing, which stops the framerate at 30 fps but guarantees the addition of this feature. According to what I tested in my Deathloop review, the mode that makes the game more usable is the performance mode. You can count on a greater number of frames per second, which will come back damn useful in the most excited phases.
Do you want to try Arkane Studios’ Deathloop? What do you think of my Deathloop review on PlayStation 5? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more games? Check out our reviews for NBA 2K22, Ghost Of Tsushima Director’s Cut, King’s Bounty 2, 12 Minutes, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, Death’s Door, F1 2021, and Castle Flipper.
This is certainly one of the most innovative games of recent times, and has managed to raise the standards again for a genre that was starting to get slightly stale. Deathloop is the fruit of creativity coming to power, and God only knows how much this industry needs creativity.
- A well-narrated plot that is discovered little by little
- Arkane Studios style gameplay
- A very colorful and immediately recognizable aesthetic
- Masterful soundtrack
- A sublime level design, which offers almost total freedom of action
- An artificial intelligence to be reviewed
- A well-made technical sector, but one that does not scream a miracle