Deathloop Early Impressions
Depending on your reviewer of choice, when Deathloop came out you would’ve either had a rather positive or a rather ‘meh’ view of the game before putting hands on it yourself. While the major commercial outlets were exceptionally positive, for my part, I typically align with Skill Up’s views on games. There are some key exceptions though.
Primary example? Anthem.
I maintain a certain degree of regret that Anthem Next was never allowed to gain wings and soar. Skill Up rather famously had the view that Anthem never should’ve been made (by BioWare) in the first place.
All of this to say: Even our preferred reviewers will sometimes deviate wildly from our own perspectives, and it seems Deathloop might be another (although far less extreme) example of this occurring.
If you’re entirely unfamiliar, Deathloop is an Immersive Sim from Arkane. … Sort of. There is certainly a light dusting of Arkane’s usual style here. Abilities, weapons and mechanics in general that the player has the power to blend together in creative ways in pursuit of their goals. Goals of making it through the environment without being brutally murdered by it, typically.
And yeah — at first blush, Deathloop will make you feel as if you’re at the start of Dishonored or Prey. But the truth of the matter is, Deathloop isn’t trying to be a ‘pure’ Immersive Sim, and rather is blended heavily with the more classical Action genre.
I’ll come back to this.
What’s undeniable though, is that Deathloop is a slick package. From the very opening moments, it presents well. The art style is fantastic. The systems are well explained. The jokes landed well. The charisma of the characters is on full display, and the mysteries are introduced in ways that will immediately set you guessing as to what, exactly, is going on here.
Now, for some context on my played time — I’ve given Deathloop longer than I would for a typical early impressions post. I’ve played a bit over five hours so far, but I think that time was necessary to even begin to have a worthwhile impression of the game. In that time, I’ve completed the mandatory relatively linear path through the times of day and areas of the game, opened up the more freeform section and killed off two of the Visionaries the game sends you after to break the loop. Although, I killed them in different loops, so it hardly ‘counts’, your end goal is to get them all in the same run.
To do that, you’ll need to plan your path through the ever-looping day, using what you learn to craft scenarios in which the Visionaries come together in the same regions — or at the very least, aren’t separated into entirely different areas at the same time of day, where you have no way of getting them all before time moves on and your opportunity is lost.
Much of the complaints I’ve heard of the game centre here. The power of a time loop game is often knowledge. Knowledge that then empowers the story agent — in this case, you the player — to work out how to manipulate events to get the desired outcome.
There is none of that here.
There is never any doubt as to what to do next. Everything will be neatly catalogued for you in a quest log with the specific steps lined up just waiting for you to knock ’em out as you see fit. There is no room to think, to work out what the logical consequences of your actions might be.
The demands on your own ability to problem solve are certainly a step back from Arkane’s previous works, but perhaps make more sense in the context of the desire to add in a stronger action element. ‘Going Loud’ right from the get-go of any combat situation is entirely viable.
If you’d rather just gun and grenade your way to victory, the difficulty tuning (including resource availability, generally much more scarce in ‘pure’ immersive sims) will let you do just that.
Perhaps my thoughts on Deathloop would be different if I’d bought it at the full launch price. Actually– that’s almost a certainty. If I came into this game at full price and expected more classic Arkane, my view on the title would be much dimmer.
But as part of the Humble Choice bundle, for a fraction of the price and other games to boot? (And with expectations accordingly tempered?)
Heck yeah- Deathloop is great. And I don’t expect it’ll outstay its welcome, either. How Long to Beat suggests you can blast through the main story in about 16 hours if you so wish, with a 100% completion still clocking in at under 40 hours. So if, like me, you’ve been on the fence but have maintained an interest, now’s a great chance to jump in.