Deathloop review: Arkane’s best game to date

At the core Endless loop Both narrative and video game terminology are nominal cycles. One might argue that Arkane Studios itself has accepted some kind of cycle. They have made a certain type of game, a feeling that connects shame, prey, and the current cycle of death. Just like the protagonist of this game, Arkane cleverly combined repetition and experimentation to open up a new path; repetition and improvement of many mechanisms and ideas that made their past games great, while introducing the help to improve the entire game new concept.

Like I said, the most important of these mechanisms is looping. Blackreef Island has been trapped in a repetitive daily cycle-so whether you are dead or alive for a day, you will wake up in the same place the same morning. In the single-player narrative, the task of the protagonist Colt Vahn is to break the cycle-which can only be accomplished by committing a series of specific murders. Your targets usually have good fortifications and protections, so reaching them requires a lot of knowledge, which Colt doesn’t have at the beginning of the game.

Deathloop is built around this basic idea. You will get clues on intelligence, new weapons, and methods to assassinate the target-although it is impossible to solve all clues at once, Colt and his opponent Assassin Juliana maintain their knowledge between cycles, while others do forgotten. In some ways, the way you deal with this problem is linear-you get a lot of information in a day that will allow you to perform specific actions in the next cycle. In other respects, it is more open, and you are basically unlocking shortcuts-the door code learned in a loop will be remembered and can be used next time, and so on.

Given the closeness of the two versions, it is difficult for me to talk about Deathloop’s time loop-driven information collection without considering the recently released “Twelve Minutes” (a game that uses the same techniques). “Twelve Minutes” has received a lot of criticism for many very valid reasons, but the way it publishes information and encourages players to use the knowledge they have gained from the past cycle to advance is one of the best things in the game. Deathloop does-but it’s just better.

The time on Blackreef is divided into several different parts-morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Unlike the slow advancement of the clock in the game, each area on the island has a unique world state at each time of the day, which means you will perform four times in an area on the island each day in the game.” try”. Depending on the time, people will do different things, areas will be locked or unlocked, and certain major events are either in preparation or in progress. Because you have to complete a specific set of goals to break the cycle, there is also a scheduling puzzle element-in order to succeed, you need to develop a timetable that allows you to complete everything you need to do in one day.

Arkane has created a lovely world-arcade machines equipped with rad and Bethesda references.

Most importantly, you must adjust your equipment and capabilities between cycles. Although Colt maintains his knowledge from one cycle to the next, the only way to maintain equipment and abilities is through “injection”, which is a way to bind items to you and make sure you are in the loop due to death or end time The process of being born again with them. That day. Infusion consumes the resources you collect when exploring and fighting—and never enough, forcing difficult calls.

It’s hard to explain how powerful all this is and how it subtly integrates with Arkane’s proficient design school. The skill tree is gone forever, replaced by a more organic action, which is to pack things up and face painful decisions about what to inject and keep for future cycles. One skill, Slabs, is what I call the archetype Arkane skill. For example, there is one that is basically like the “blink” ability of “Shame”. These will only fall from the Boss character, and the cost of injection and retention is very high. When I make a decision between different slabs, I find myself painful many times because each slab is unique.

Then there is how the concept of loop interacts with the story. Those classic immersive simulation games-audio files, notes, computer terminal chat records-are no longer just building the world, but important information that can usually be used in the next loop. Even small chats between grunting enemies scattered all over the island can contain important clues-this is a genius way that even players who don’t naturally participate fully in Deathloop’s excellent written narrative can be attracted. Their interest.

Arkane is known for being very good at story content, and Deathloop is no exception. I think the most impressive thing is that there is a complete lineup of characters here-not only Colt and Juliana, the dueling assassins have a prominent position in marketing, but also the architects and goals that make up the black reef. Other core roles. These characters may trigger an avalanche of fan role-playing, art, and fiction. In the game, you mainly learn about them by hearing their voices on the walkie-talkie and sneaking in their lairs, reading instant message logs and scribbled notes. In a way, some of them feel a bit like the best in BioShock — but are more focused on a funny, juicy, and half-joking universe than any philosophy of gazing at the belly button.

The shooting is good enough, if you want to shoot, it is too comfortable.

You are asked to play Colt first to watch and experience the story of Deathloop. You can do this online or offline. Either way, your game will occasionally be “invaded” by Juliana controlled by AI or humans, who will try to hunt you down. As Colt, when Juliana appears, you are faced with a choice. If you don’t want to contact her, she is a character with the same abilities as you, you can escape the area, advance the time and miss anything you did in the area at that time. If you stand up and fight, this will be one of the toughest encounters, but you will give up great rewards.

When playing this story, the invading thing is a cool little wrinkle, but when you are on the other side, the real fun comes. Once you are familiar with Blackreef, you can play the role of Juliana and invade other people’s games. Some of Deathloop’s early marketing may give the impression that this competitive online element is the core of the game, and it is a game that focuses on multiplayer games. It is not; first is a single-player adventure. But the ability to play Juliana and invade others is a very satisfying way to see the world from another angle, giving you a reason to continue playing. It’s also fun to ruin someone’s day.

The reason you want to keep playing is also very simple: Deathloop feels great. It’s a compact and smooth game, and you can use all the options at any given time and feel equally feasible-and crucially, equally fun. In such games, due to the way weapons are handled, or the invisibility is awkward and frustrating, such mismatches will not often occur in such games. From attacking doors and turrets to full-scale gunfights, from fast parkour to crouching through buildings while performing stealth kills, everything feels smooth and satisfying. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to switch methods quickly and pull out a big and loud gun.

Hacking is a key part of your abilities, and keep it simple-hold a button and you can start, no cumbersome mini-games.

However, the game does seem to want you to be invisible-Colt’s psychedelic notes from another dimension of self often warn you “maybe not to make a loud noise” before entering the enemy’s stronghold and waiting-but if that is you, gun burning is completely a kind of Choose desire. The weapons, upgrades (referred to here as trinkets), and stairs that you choose to inject to keep the loop will help create a character build that will make you lean towards a particular play style.

Of course, I do have some strange criticisms. For example, because of how important various scattered items are to narrative and Colt’s knowledge, it is frustrating that readable, crumpled notes can have the same project model as unreadable, unrelated notes with a disorganized background. . I sometimes think that the enemy’s AI is a bit too fast to discover you from invisibility-although certain sections can make up for this. One of the guns included in the Digital Deluxe Edition was very good in the early days and felt a bit like cheating. I checked it on PS5 and I found that the fine adjustment of the aiming controller when trying to remotely headshot the invisible man was cumbersome due to low sensitivity-I can’t wait to start playing it on PC. Of course, these are minor criticisms. Of course there is nothing to disrupt the game or earth-shattering.

As a single player experience, Deathloop feels very complete and very comprehensive. The additional optional multiplayer action injection is the most important cherry. Basically, Deathloop is everything I want. It is not only the heir to many of the ideas of Dishonored, but also a clear self, with a tone and style that I absolutely love. This is one of my favorite games of the year-and we will definitely talk about it in the coming months.

Disclaimer: Tested on PS5, copy of the game is provided by the publisher. Additional reporting by James Bilcliffe.