Looking for new ways to play the FPS genre aside from large scale PVP and linear single player stories is genuinely hard nowadays, with the major competitors in the genre being mostly centered around a PVP online-only experience. With the formula being so tired out, the reveal of Deathloop was met with incredible excitement; a new FPS with a few twists to shake up gameplay. What we were greeted with was not only one of the most interesting roguelike experiences in modern titles, but an incredibly refined shooter that mastered gameplay elements presented in the developer’s previous titles and improved upon them all. Deathloop is nothing short of some of the most insane fun you can have in a story based FPS, while still retaining multiplayer elements for those that are more competitively inclined.
The story of Deathloop mostly unfurls as you play the game, but the premise is simple. Colt (the player) wakes up on a beach with no memories, and slowly realizes he’s stuck on an island that is being affected by a time loop. His rival, Juliana, fills in some of the blanks while taunting him, knowing that he’s got pretty bad amnesia. Their banter is pretty funny, but also speaks a lot about the environment around them. The entire island of Blackreef is belly up in total chaos, and every citizen is out to get you from the second you wake up. Now with that out of the way, your job is not only to uncover the history of the loop and why you’re able to use certain powers, but to stop the loop as a whole. To do this, you need to kill multiple targets in a single loop. This task isn’t so easily accomplished, however, as they’re all in different parts of the island at different parts of the day. Not only that, Juliana and the rest of the island are out to kill you while you attempt your assassinations. The impossibility of this task is evident on your first attempt, but gathering more information is crucial to getting it right.
Deathloop’s gameplay is incredibly satisfying. From the team that made Dishonored, I expected nothing less than super satisfying stealth gameplay and level design that gives the player a lot of options. Deathloop is the exact same, allowing the player to plan whatever method of attack they choose, with an arsenal of unique weapons that lend themselves to any type of playstyle. Stealthy weapons like high power nail guns are great for silent kills, although they do take time to charge. On the other hand, shotguns have the most satisfying kick and ragdoll enemies across entire sidewalks. Every weapon I’ve tried so far has been incredibly fun to use, and there’s still a lot more to go. Slabs are this game’s power mechanic, allowing Colt to use abilities ranging from air dashing to linking enemies together, with killing one killing the others linked to them. While these are really fun to use, if you die and loop the day you lose your inventory, like most roguelikes. As you progress, there is a method to maintaining your inventory on a reset, though it is through managing a type of currency that is earned through finding items similar to collectibles and killing high priority targets. This gives the player incentive to entering each part of the day with a distinct goal, to make the next loop much easier. That aside, looping is essential in the long run, as different areas at different times of day have distinct differences. Aside from the aesthetic changes, NPC placement is different, and new documents with important information can be laying around. The new NPCs might end up talking about an event to happen in the night while lazing about in the afternoon, and this information is crucial to setting new goals and figuring out the most optimal path to deal with the highest priority targets or finding new loot. Some of the most rewarding gameplay comes from figuring out clues and putting together the puzzle of where someone could be after looping a few times to get all the information correct. Seeing a plan through from start to finish has been the most enjoyable part of Deathloop to me, as everything coming together really makes you feel like a time looping hero.
Deathloop has been the most enjoyable shooter I’ve played in recent memory for a number of reasons. The gunplay is hectic and bombastic with lots of impact that can be felt in the PS5 controller, the environments are super trippy and lend themselves to the theme of “losing your mind”, and the gameplay loop of finding clues and acting out a plan in a certain way feels incredibly satisfying. I’m a sucker for funny dialogue, and Colt is a genuinely funny character through all of his interactions. While the constant looping might get repetitive for those looking to one-and-done a story, I feel like Deathloop has something for everyone to experience. This is definitely not a title to skip if you’re able to play it.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5