DEATHLOOP and the thrill of repetition

Illustration by Olivia Madrzyk | The Signal

It has been a quiet year for games due to COVID-19 delaying the industry’s production cycle. As a result, many companies have put triple-A games on hold. In a sea of delayed games, “DEATHLOOP” sticks out as one of the significant Triple-A releases to come out this year. 

“DEATHLOOP” is easily one of the most intriguing games of the year due to its unique mix of FPS gunplay with the signature elaborate level design that Arkane Studios has made famous.

“DEATHLOOP’s” premise is a simple one. The main character, Colt, is on the island of Blackreef, which is in a time loop. 

Colt wants to break the time loop, which requires Colt to kill eight different targets before the day ends to break the loop. The new head of security, Julianna, serves as the antagonist and is trying to maintain the loop by killing Colt. 

The time loop concept isn’t cutting edge narrative-wise. However, the relationship between Coly and Julianna elevates the premise. 

Colt and Julianna are the only ones who have any memory of the time loop, which leads to them forming a kinship as they are trying to kill one another. Their voice actors are perfect for their roles and add a great charm to the game. 

The core gameplay loop of DEATHLOOP revolves around figuring out the most optimal way to kill all eight targets within the span of the time loop. The player can explore four distinct areas at four different times of the day, totaling 16 different levels. 

The levels are highly detailed, and exploring different times of day opens new opportunities, such as being unable to access one of the targets until playing during the nighttime. 

The day resets upon finishing the night, alongside all your progress in the loop. The player only keeps all the weapons and powers acquired from previous loops.

The fun part of the game is figuring out just how the player will dispatch their targets. Want to eliminate your targets by sneaking in silently and assassinating them? 

Or maybe the player wants to rush in guns blazing? The game seeks to inspire player agency to figure out how to break the loop in the way they see most fit.

The way “DEATHLOOP” manages to keep players on their toes through the many loops they will endure is in the form of the “Protect the Loop” mode. In this mode, another player takes control of Julianna and goes into another player’s game to stop Colt from breaking the loop. These invasions are frantic and chaotic and make it so going through repeated loops isn’t too monotonous.

“DEATHLOOP” isn’t without its shortcomings. The game is easy aside from the Julianna invasions. The primary enemies don’t stand much of a threat, nor do the targets. The PC performance also leaves room to be desired, as the game stutters quite a bit, and the first week was rife with crashes due to poor optimization.

“DEATHLOOP’s” unique formula and gameplay loop make it one of the most exciting Triple-A releases of the year. 

The time loop has been done by many games before. However, few games execute it quite as well as “DEATHLOOP.”