Thoughts on Deathloop
I think that I could write several posts on this game. It has quite a lot going for it; tight action gameplay, meaningful stealth gameplay, intriguing story, good voice-acting and a clever gimmick to make it stick out. The first few hours were amazing, I’m not at all surprised that it was so well recieved from both players and journalists, but I feel that the appeal didn’t reach all the way through the entire experience. The last few hours or so I just wanted the game to be done and give me the ending. I also had som issues with the game freezing up a couple of times, and since the saves are pretty far between it made me lose considerable progress.
The games story starts as a classic amnesia experience. We have seen it all before (none has made that story as well as Disco Elysium did). We wake up as Colt on a beach, the environment suggests we’ve been drinking and we must retrace our steps. This gets me going, I love Hangover stories. We later discover he is trapped on an island where “the visionaries” (a bunch of asshole scientists, rich people and artists) have created a time loop that lets them party for eternity. Colt is not pleased with this and wants to break the loop so that he can escape the island. Only Colt and another one of the visionaries, Juliana, remembers time between loops and she is fully determined to stop Colt from ending the loop.
It’s a pretty neat setup. What you spend most of your time doing is exploring different parts of the Island on different parts of the day, there are four locations/maps and four time slots. The locations keeps their basic layout but a lot changes between the different time slots. This also lets ju tamper with something at the start of the day and then get an effect at a later time. If you die, the loop restarts and you lose items you haven’t “Infused” yet. Infusing an item lets you keep it between loops.
There are quite a few strategies you can use to traverse a level. You unlock a bunch of differente abilities, weapons and powers over the cours of the game and at the end of the game you have a lot of tools at your disposal. Since you don’t really get much from killing enemies, I felt like stealth was a much more viable tactic than it usually is. That said, I still went for a more tanky build with fire power, I just don’t have the patience to sneak around when I can just kill everyone instead. At certain points though I felt like my usual tactic was challenged and that I needed to switch up.
In fact at the start of the game I died quite a lot. Especially from invading players; if you enable online play other players can take control of Juliana and invade your timeline. Juliana is a tough son of a gun and the more experience the player have with her and the game itself, the more dangerous she is going to be. I turned of online mode later because I felt like it prolonged the game so much when I had to take care of Juliana first each time I entered a new area. I liked the feature in theory but didn’t really want to interact with it, much the same way I feel about red phantoms in the souls games.
Much of my joy came from the banter between Colt and Juliana. Juliana taps into Colts com radio at the start of each map and they have some not-so-friendly banter between them. I also liked getting info about the other visionaries and their relation to Colt. The end goal of the game is to kill all the visionaries on a single day, and to do that you have to collect information about them to make sure they are at a place that’s convenient to you. This was a real fun problem to solve, you get quite a lot of help from the UI of course so if you don’t want to think too much you can often just interact with anything you find and follow the arrows.
The ending left me pretty disappointed as I feel like it didn’t give me the katharsis that I feel the game warranted. I assume that you could explore more and find out more about the world and the story, but not sure that I will come back to it. Maybe to try and play Juliana some, but we’ll see.