When Xbox acquired Bethesda Studios no one had thought that the company would make a PlayStation 5 game, but now that Deathloop is out I can confidently say that this might be the last Bethesda Studios game ever on a PlayStation console.
Deathloop is an Arkane Studios title that includes first-person shooting, stealth mechanics, multiple ways to achieve objectives (Stealth or Direct). The game is made in such a way that it makes planning an essential part before starting a mission.
Stuck in a Loop
When you start the game you are given the option to either "Break the Loop" or "Protect the Loop", though if you are playing for the first time you can only play the Break the Loop option. While breaking the loop you play Colt who is an assassin stranded on a mysterious Blackreef island.
Soon Colt discovers that the island is stuck in a time loop making each day the same as the previous one and to break this loop he must kill The Visionaries who are responsible for this phenomenon and that too in a single day. But the worst part is that there is another assassin on the island that is protecting the loop and actively hunts Colt throughout the story.
At first, the game might feel complex, but as time passes and you get yourself adapted to the story and the premise the game becomes fun to play.
The island is divided into four sectors with four-time periods: morning, noon, afternoon, and evening each time period will lead to a different event which the game has sixteen in total. All this is connected meaning what happens during a particular time of the day will affect what happens later which may seem complicated, but the game has depicted this in a very understandable manner.
Each loop gives you two lives and losing all those lives will restart the loop and you will end up losing all the acquired items. Unlike Returnal the game levels are not random and remain static during all loops meaning that enemies and items are always in the same location.
The game also allows weapon & mods customization with the help of an in-game material called Residium which is found on random objects or obtained from defeated visionaries and these can be kept for future loops as well. Knowledge gained through notes, audio logs, and conversations with Visionaries also stay across all loops even if you die and the loop resets.
Previously I said that the game has different time periods but that does not mean that it has a day and night cycle; to put this simply if you start a loop in the evening, the entire loop will take place in the evening until you die or leave the stage. Once the loop is completed then time moves forward to the next portion of the day. The time remains static until that portion's mission is completed and then the loop will reset to another time of day say morning, this allows you to explore (find hidden weapons, mods, and secrets of the island) and play the game at your own pace which can be helpful to gather clues and reach the goal of killing the visionaries.
Kill Die Repeat
The island has other NPCs as well called "The Eternalists" who are dangerous inhabitants and use standard weapons along with supernatural abilities. These weapons include knives, handguns, shotguns, and rifles (all of these can be stolen and used by Cole).
The game also takes full advantage of the PlayStation 5's DualSense Controllers haptic feedback and rumble making the combat feel very immersive no matter the weapon that is being used.
When it comes to supernatural abilities, each Visionary can have these special abilities like invisibility, telekinesis, and teleportation. But once a Visionary is killed you can steal their special ability and residium. Your weapon can only hold two abilities at a time, so you have to think very carefully in order to progress in the game.
There are three different types of weapons in a game that can be combined with mods scavenged from the defeated enemies which can enhance the weapon by giving it reduced recoil, faster reloading, and higher damage. These mods can also enhance Cole by giving him the ability to perform a double jump, take more damage, or rapidly heal.
Arkane Studios has designed this game in an open-ended level format which means that the game provides different gameplay paths like windows, caves, and air vents for entry points into a Visionary's residence which can be used to avoid chaos and maintain stealth which makes replaying these levels fun.
The game does not punish you in case you do something reckless during the loop as drastically as Returnal and the game is also not too difficult. But if the loop resets the items that you acquired in the previous loop will get lost, but not everything.
The art style of the game is a mishmash of 1960s American pop art with 1950s Soviet brutalist architecture. Though it is weird to hear 21st-century style dialogs coming from people in the 1960s. The game is not too graphically intensive but has a distinct and fun art style.
Save the Loop
Once you start playing Break the Loop mode, the game unlocks its multiplayer mode (Save the Loop) that lets Juliana (other players) invade your game (you can also invade other people's games) making the game tense as Juliana's moves cannot be predicted. But if you defeat a player-controlled Julianna gets you their Residium, mods, weapons, and abilities.
The main goal for Juliana is to hunt down Colt which can be somewhat easy due to the fact that Eternalists do not attack Juliana, she does not get detected by surveillance cameras or sets off mines giving Juliana a somewhat distinct advantage as she can even disguise herself as and Eternalist though that does not work since most of the eternalists AI is pretty dumb.
Deathloop is a AAA game giving it a strange yet familiar look which makes this game unique. The in-game AI could have been a little smarter, but that could be due to the fact that the Eternals feel that even if they die they can come back. The open-ended game design ensures that the game does not get boring with each loop by providing different ways to replay the level by acquiring better mods and weapons.