Bethesda has been a gaming juggernaut in the industry for decades and admittedly, I have barely played any of their titles. For me, my first oft theirs was Fallout 3 on PC back when it first came out. Since then, some of their titles have interested me, but I’ve just never really taken the plunge. That changed when Deathloop was announced, and I am pleased to say that I dived in head-first, and I am so glad that I did.
The instant Deathloop booted up on the PlayStation 5, I was already amazed. Just navigating around the menu with the DualSense Controller was an experience I have not felt before. It was very clear, that the development team over at Arkane Studios had taken full advantage of the haptic technology that the PlayStation 5 has to offer. And I hadn’t even started the game yet!
The game opens with a violent cut scene of your character getting stabbed in the chest. You awaken on a beach not knowing who you are. As you begin to move around, words appear in the environment giving you prompts as if they are being manifested from your subconscious. Before you leave the area, you pick up your first weapon and some ammo. There are targets around to give you some practice with the controls, and here is where the haptic technology really shines. As you shoot, the triggers have varied amounts of resistance as the weapon recoils. The weapon can also jam up and the fire trigger becomes stiff, preventing you from firing. This was just the tip of the iceberg for the haptic feedback.
As you progress, you collect a trinket and a ‘hackamajig’ device. Trinkets can be used to upgrade your abilities and weapons. The hacking tool allows you to ‘hack’ into electronic devices such as locked security doors, telephone booths to cause distractions and even deployed turrets that you can make of your own. The ‘hackamajig’ is your core item next to your weapon. You can equip both the hacking device in your left hand and a pistol or SMG in your right. You can also dual-wield weapons, giving you many loadout options.
So, what exactly is Deathloop and what are you trying to achieve? Essentially, you are stuck in time a loop of a single day that repeats. Your character, Colt, is trying to ‘break the loop’ and the main antagonist, Julianna, in conjunction with the residents of Blackreef are here to make your life hell. There are eight main characters known as Visionaries, with their own unique special abilities known as Slabs. Each of these Slabs can be obtained by taking down a Visionary. You can track down these Visionaries through your leads. Every lead is effectively a mission with objectives and can be tracked through the menu before you head back out into Blackreef. But be weary, if you die during a loop, you end up back on the beach and effectively need to start over again! This may sound horrendous, but at times becomes necessary.
After the first stages of the game, you can change the time of day and loadout to suit the mission you’re about to attempt. Some events take place at a certain time of day. You may need to enter a location in the morning before an event takes place in the evening. The games environment is also interactive, shoot a vending machine to trip up enemies or throw a glass bottle to cause a distraction. You can take it slow and stealthy or go in guns blazing and risk death. There is effectively no wrong way to play, and options and possibilities are seemingly endless.
The gameplay is fantastic and would have to be one of the best first-person shooters I have played in a very long time. The mechanics are simple and effective; walking, running, sneaking, crouching, and shooting are all as you would expect. Although, you may want to mess around with the look sensitivity settings as I found it a bit slow on the default. Where this game really shines is the combination of art design and music. With art design by Sébastien Mitton, the environment has a beautiful colour pallet. This game really shines with the music. As you enter an environment the music is relaxed, however, as soon as you engage in combat, the score kicks into overdrive. With the increased tempo, I felt the music gave me the hype and mood I needed to take out the enemies quickly. As the area is cleared, the music steps back a gear to the chilled vibes again, allowing the player to settle back down and focus on their surroundings. Many games do this well, but I have to say, Tom Salta and Ross Tregenza have taken the composition of this game to the next level.
There is also a multiplayer option to Deathloop that allows you to play as Julianna and invade others. If you have friends with the game and they are online, you can also choose to infiltrate them specifically and wreak havoc. I tried this out against a friend when we were both streaming the game and while it was a lot of fun, I can see how it could quickly become frustrating when all you want to do is play the main campaign. Thankfully, there is an option to disable the PvP mode via the settings.
Overall, Deathloop is one of the best games I have played in a long time. There is so much to explore and collect that my inner loot goblin is jumping for joy. I cannot wait to jump back in and die, die again, die some more and complete this game as much as possible. Deathloop is 100% a strong contender for Game of the Year. Deathloop comes in a Deluxe Edition and a Standard Edition. The Deluxe version comes with some additional unique weapons and other items. The Deluxe Edition is highly recommended as the shotgun received is incredible!
Deathloop is available now on PlayStation 5 and PC via physical and digital media.
A PlayStation 5 copy of this game was provided by Bethesda for the purposes of this review.