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‘Deathloop’ Is A Next-Gen Masterpiece From Arkane Studios That’ll Have You Running Circles – Game Review

Colt is easily my new favorite video game character, Blackreef presents one of the best time travel landscapes I’ve ever explored, Juliana is such a badass and twisted antagonist, and I absolutely need to put this game down and explain just what the hell is going on in Deathloop.

The first-person murder puzzle game from Arkane Lyon is the studio’s new IP that introduces players to a mind-boggling adventure set on the enigmatic island of Blackreef. Trapped in a time loop on an icy hellscape, you play as Colt Vahn, a trigger-happy gunslinger with a bad hangover living the same day for what feels like an eternity.

Deathloop gameplay
(Courtesy of Arkane Studios)

To make matters even worse, as players try to unravel the mysteries of Blackreef, they also need to be on the lookout for rival assassin Juliana Blake, who has made it her sole purpose to end you every chance she gets—and she gets it a lot. Deathloop’s insanely unique narrative, coupled with the steely atmosphere of the island, make it one of the best next-gen titles out now. Jason E. Kelley’s performance as Colt is both hilarious and painfully human—every stifled grunt, every blood curdling exclamation, every time he gets knocked down, you feel for him. Ozioma Akagha makes your losing battle against Juliana even more nerve wracking, as she delivers every quip and underhanded joke with added insult.

It’s little surprise the studio that brought us the Dishonored series and Wolfenstein spin-off titles knows how to tell a good story. Colt and Juliana’s epic gunfights with Blackreef as the backdrop make for some serious surges of adrenaline, but the game isn’t just a visual feat. The strange structure of Deathloop’s campaign is a welcomed change of pace—Colt relives the same day on Blackreef but has access to a devastating arsenal of weapons with different rarity types and power-ups from items called Slabs that make each “loop” playthrough a different experience.

(Courtesy of Arkane Studios)

Dinga Bakaba, Deathloop’s game designer and an overall genius, recently tweeted about the way he gleefully invades the games of reviewers desperately trying to break Colt’s loop. While I’ve had the great fortune avoiding such an invasion, I must point out that therein lies the beauty of this immaculate time travel experience: other players can hop into your game as Juliana and bring your current loop to an end, if you so choose. Thankfully, the option to have the AI takeover in her place is available for yellow-bellies like myself. Now, exploring Blackreef isn’t without its threats. The island’s inhabitants, called Eternalists, stalk most corners and sullenly stare across overlooks in the hopes of stopping you. Colt’s reputation precedes him, for several spoiler-y reasons, and any opportunity to gun, or machete him, down in the streets is a golden opportunity to them.

Eternalists are there to protect Colt’s main targets, AEON Program members called The Visionaries, who are mostly responsible for the hellish time loop players find themselves in. Each Visionary has an imposing loadout and even crazier backstory, with others carrying highly coveted Slabs that grant players otherworldly powers. For instance, one of the Visionaries named Charlie possesses the Shift slab, which gives you the ability to teleport over a short distance. This ability comes in handy particularly well against sentry turrets—did I mention those? Also, the appropriately named Hackamajig, one of Colt’s own creations, can hijack sentry turrets and even disable security cameras, and his melee and machete stealth kills are both gratifying and gruesome. Deathloop does have permadeath elements throughout, but players can save the weapons and trinkets obtained in different playthroughs of loops by infusing such items with Residiuum, a mysterious resource found on Blackreef.  

(Courtesy of Arkane Studios)

Arkane Studios provides players with an insanely immersive narrative, a unique weapon and loot system, and an unforgettable multiplayer mode (for those on the braver side) with Deathloop. Colt and Juliana share a chemistry akin to good friends—albeit good friends who ultimately eliminate one another in a cruel, Sisyphean reality. The 1960s inspired art style and character models are proof of the studio’s constant pursuit of innovation, and the gameplay knocks it out of the park. If you love time travel or you genuinely just want your world rocked on next-gen, take Deathloop for a spin, because no matter how many times you die, you’ll keep coming back.

Deathloop will be available on PlayStation 5 and PC on September 14.

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