Although Deathloop trailers are a must for many game presentations, part of the audience still does not understand what genre the new product from Arkane Studios belongs to. And I, to be honest, after passing through I can not give a final answer. This is not the usual linear shooter – you can complete tasks in any order. This is not a bagel – there is no random generation, and it is quite easy to transfer progress to the next run. The game can be classified as an immersive sim, but it is not arranged in the same way as Prey or the latest Deus Ex. Familiar elements are combined in it in such a way that it turns out, if not a new genre, then at least a unique project.
Deathloop – that’s how it got
In the role of a man named Colt, we find ourselves on the Black Reef Island. We don’t remember anything, inscriptions hanging in the air appear before our eyes, next to the nearest door there is a submachine gun and cartridges. It turns out that the hero fell into a time loop – after death, he is reborn and survives the same day. To stop this, he needs to find eight ideologues on the island and destroy them in one go.
The day is divided into four periods: morning, noon, afternoon and evening. It all starts in the morning – choose any of the four regions and go there to do business. Until you leave the location, the morning will not end, so there is no need to rush anywhere. Then you return to your lair, decide on the next task and go somewhere at noon. Or, if you have nothing to do before the evening, you can rewind time. After the evening ends, the day restarts.
In a preview I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t allowed to talk about the plot – I had to keep pretty much everything under wraps. Now there are fewer restrictions, but still there was no desire to scatter spoilers. Along with how the Colt solves the main mystery, he learns details about the island, about his goals and about himself – and there are a lot of interesting things. Information is given in doses, but in sufficient quantities. It also helps that Colt has amnesia, so the emotions from what he reads or hears are the same as those of the player.
Secrets are everywhere in Deathloop
There are plenty of text notes and audio recordings here – Colt studies the instructions left by the ideologues, reads their correspondence, even in the dialogues of ordinary opponents, details about the unusual Deathloop universe slip through. Depending on the time of day, these dialogues change, and you notice some other changes – either the passage is closed somewhere, or the note is no longer on the table, but is lying crumpled in the corner of the room. It’s not always clear what can and cannot be interacted with, but there won’t be any difficulty even if you miss something.
In most cases, the key objects for the plot are easy to find thanks to the markers – at least the approximate location will tell you exactly. Deathloop rarely tries to be a puzzle at all and presents a lot on a silver platter – only sometimes you need to look for symbols on the walls or an object from a photograph yourself. Each target has its own chain of tasks, which sooner or later will end with the fact that the Colt will know when it is best to eliminate the opponent. And when you find out about all the ideologues, the game will create a separate chain – you can safely run around the markers until the end.
So this is not a puzzle, but rather an action game with puzzle elements, the “levels” of which can be played in random order. It happens that you come to a location only for the sake of one note or a new room, and then you don’t have to look for them for a long time – often everything is shown. And then you make the same path back to the lair. Therefore, it is advisable to check if there are still some tasks available in this area, otherwise you will lose time – there is no random generation, so the locations will be the same.
Deathloop: killing machine
At the same time, the gameplay of Deathloop becomes more cheerful and fun due to how the main character develops over time. By killing targets, he gains bonus abilities and skills. “Affect” allows him to become stronger and stronger for a while, “Plexus” binds enemies (killed one – they all died), “Karnesis” throws them away, “Ether” makes Colt invisible, and “Displacement” is a jerk in any direction. When you kill the same ideologue again, you get the skill again, but it improves the one you already have. For example, Weave will heal you when you kill connected targets and connect nearby enemies, and Aether will stop absorbing energy if the Colt is not moving.
At first, there is none of this, and the hero is forced to rely only on a weapon that jams and a machete, so you try to spend a lot of time in stealth. Or you shoot back from behind cover – such a scheme at the beginning of the game also works. Artificial intelligence was not made too smart – if there is shooting in some sector, the guards in the next one most likely will not hear it. Over time, you start to like this approach more and more – you can experiment with new skills or guns in one area, and then covertly go through the next one. For example, when you get Weave for the first time, you immediately remember the places where this ability is useful – and after that you can easily switch to stealth.
There are enough guns here: pistols and revolvers, submachine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, original machine guns. Everything, as it is fashionable, is of different rarity: white and blue items are unremarkable, purple ones have a passive feature, and gold ones have another one. True, you can’t just get gold. The number of slots for charms that make the guns cooler depends on the color, but I practically did not pay attention to them. When you kill an ideologue or explore a location for a long time, you collect about ten charms, and each time I leafed through this list and did not find anything interesting in it.
Bonuses are either boring or seem completely unnecessary. Bullets pierce opponents through – I don’t remember that it was ever useful. The accuracy of offhand shots is noticeably increased – yes, it seems to be decent anyway. When hit, enemies not only take damage, but also lose energy – do they have energy? .. You aim even faster – no complaints about the standard speed. There are some good trinkets, like those that increase the clip or increase the rate of fire, but you can live without them.
There are also character trinkets – also not very interesting, but a little more useful. They will increase the maximum health, and increase the speed of energy recovery (it is spent when using abilities). At the same time, it’s full of rubbish – why do you need to deal more damage when you are low on health, if you are unlikely to survive?
As a result, trinkets become a source of residual – a currency thanks to which you can forever keep any items you find. If you like the cannon, put some residual into it and use it in all races. The same applies to trinkets and abilities collected from targets. This is also why Deathloop cannot be called a “bagel” – it’s as if in Hades you could immortalize your “imbo” build, saving all the gifts of the gods for subsequent playthroughs. Residue you get by destroying trash; you can collect it on locations, looking for shiny objects, plus ideologues leave behind thousands of currency units.
It is also reset after the death of Julianne – the most annoying opponent of the Colt. If the rest of the enemies live their own lives, then Julianna constantly teases the protagonist, convinces him that it is impossible to break the loop, and sometimes even goes hunting. At these moments, it is impossible to run to the lair and escape – the exits are blocked, so you must first find the antenna and hack it. After that, you can run away or meet with Julian face to face. She has only one “life”, the Colt has three, but she has more health.
When you go through Deathloop offline, you rarely meet the heroine – maybe three or four times per game. With multiplayer turned on, get ready to see her in every sortie from morning to evening. Although most of the time it was easy for me to kill her, at some point she began to interfere with the story. Yes, and it’s a shame because of her to lose all the “lives” and lose valuable weapons. At the same time, the trophies from Julianna are not bad: it can be a random ability, a cool gun, a pack of trinkets, or a ton of residual.
The villainess game mode starts in the main menu, and the progress earned in the story is not carried over there. The interface is the same: we select three guns, trinkets for weapons and characters, abilities, and so on. Julianne has an exclusive ability – she transforms into any selected person to make it easier to confuse Colt. The essence of the mode is simple: we appear on the map and look for or wait for another player to kill him. Won three times (or less – depends on his remaining “lives”) – a screen appears with the results.
Julianna has dozens of easy tasks to complete to level up and unlock new abilities. Weapons, abilities, trinkets – if in single player mode you need to look for equipment, mess with the residual and save everything, then things are given out just like that. Entertainment is fun, but I doubt that people will linger in it for a long time. They knock out a couple of simple “achievements”, run a couple more times, and that’s it. And that’s okay – Deathloop is primarily a story game, and the rest is more of a bonus.
The idea behind Deathloop is brilliant – it’s one of the best time loops in the industry. Going through the same locations is not boring as the character becomes stronger, and since this is Arkane, the design here is excellent. Everything is stylish, the effects are colorful, and the locations give a lot of freedom of action – any task can be completed in different ways. Well, the English voice acting is absolutely gorgeous – the localization is also good, but in the original, the actors for Colt and Julianna were chosen amazingly.
At the same time, the game is not perfect. A large piece of history is hidden in notes and audio files – if you do not like to read and listen, much will pass you by. The ending turned out to be crumpled – everything seems to be logical, but it is done as if everything was collected at the last moment. Some of the gameplay elements are not really needed – the same key fobs change the gameplay so insignificantly that it would not be worse without them. But Deathloop is still great, original and enjoyable – you spend time in it with great pleasure, wanting to return after the credits and finally clean everything up.
Pros: a successful implementation of the time loop, making the game unlike any other; an interesting universe, for the sake of details about which you are looking for all the notes and audio files; a fun combat system that develops better over time; greater freedom of action; non-standard visual style in the spirit of Arkane; For voice actors, give The Game Awards right now.
Cons: there is too much information hidden in the notes, which is not so readily disclosed in the main plot; crumpled ending; trinkets are practically useless and do not change the gameplay much, although they give out tons of them; in online mode, Julianna gets bored (fortunately, you can quickly go offline).