PC Gamer|December 2021
With DEATHLOOP, Arkane is rewriting what an immersive sim can be
Phil Savage


WHAT IS IT? A stealth shooter set in a time loop. Think Dishonored meets Outer Wilds.


DEVELOPER Arkane Studios

PUBLISHER Bethesda Softworks

REVIEWED ON RTX 3080Ti, 32GB RAM, Ryzen 7 3700X


LINK bethesda.net/en/ game/deathloop

Arkane Studios is calling me out. It knows how I played Dishonored 2 – quick-loading away any mistake in pursuit of a perfect stealth playthrough. And given that almost 30% of Steam players have the achievement for finishing a mission without being spotted, I suspect I’m not alone. Despite having a suite of tools, we ignored them in favour of the most OP button on our keyboard: F9. With Deathloop, quicksave is gone.

Deathloop is all about what happens when things don’t go to plan; about panic and improvisation; about learning from a mistake, and taking those lessons forward. Trapped in a time loop, it doesn’t matter if you botch your way through combat encounter after combat encounter – it doesn’t even matter if you die and get kicked back to the beginning of the day. All that matters is that, in doing so, you gained some information that will help you the next time around.

Information is how you find and kill the Visionaries that act as the bosses of the island. There are eight in total, and your job as the amnesiac Colt Vahn is to take them all out in a single day in order to break the loop. Your problem is that the day is split into four chunks – morning, noon, afternoon, and evening – and you can only visit one of the island’s four areas during each period. The Visionaries only appear in certain locations at certain times of the day, and at first it doesn’t seem possible to kill them all before the loop resets and your work is undone.

As you dig into the lives of your hit list, though, you’ll uncover new ways to manipulate them. This is the bulk of the game, and your progress is tracked and updated as each new lead is uncovered. Colt is one of only two people whose memory remains intact when the day loops, which means his targets’ behaviour remains consistent, and thus repeatable. It’s immensely satisfying as the pieces start falling into place – as you see the consequences of your actions, and start filling out your itinerary in preparation for that perfect day.

The process of gathering information doesn’t just apply to your primary objective, either. It turns out that looping repetition leads to a more organic sense of discovery that suits the immersive sim genre well. For instance, my first visit to Aleksis’s party in the Updaam district of Blackreef was an embarrassing disaster. It’s the most dangerous area in the game – all of the guests are packing heat – and so my botched stealth attempt became a protracted hunt, as I desperately attempted to run and hide, only to be caught anew.

In the end I prevailed, but only after killing everyone in the building. With that done, an opportunity presented itself. I was free to explore in peace; to work backwards from inside the building and discovering the routes that linked them. When I returned the next day, I was prepared. It still descended into chaos in the end, but did so on my terms.

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