I’ve been playing a lot of Deathloop. Since it was voted for on Twitter, I’ve sunk another 15 hours into it with relative ease. Uncovering quirks, weapons and abilities. It’s been fun, I’ve mostly enjoyed my time here, but I can’t for the life of me find any way for me to feel like I care about finishing it.
It’s such a weird place to be. Deathloop is objectively a good game, with so many things I love from the world of Dishonored, mixed with a new aesthetic, a clever theme. There’s a stronger emphasis on gunplay, but that’s never forced and I’ve been happily stealthing around the place.
So is it good or not? Because I’m saying I can’t find the will to finish the story.
There’s a lot of good here
Arguably the most important thing I want to be taken away from this, is that Deathloop is great. It feels great, it looks great, it sounds great.
The abilities picked up from slabs are nice and it has a great deal going for it.
Each visionary is cleverly located across different maps at different times of day, and every map has things to learn and uncover, events to witness, at different times of the day. Deathloop is an intricate piece of work from Arkane Studios and it’s clear they’re flexing some serious creative muscle.
My time in Deathloop hasn’t been wasted, it’s actually been enjoyable. Sneaking around, hacking, murdering and getting out again is as joyful as one would expect. So if I’m looking at it purely from a craftsmanship perspective, it’s an easy recommend.
Perhaps you’re a fan of Dishonored? You’ll get more of that action, in a more vibrant world, with a bit more shooting action.
Perhaps you like games with a time-lop mechanic, where you basically live-out groundhog day until you learn the cadence of the game and its inhabitants, so you can break the loop.
Deathloop is pretty special in how well it’s all put together, but damn. I can’t find the sheer will to see it through, and I think I understand why.
Flow and narrative
Deathloop spends a lot of time setting the story up. Setting Julianna and Colt’s purpose and history. You then spend a lot of time uncovering audio and text logs to fill in the blanks. Along with voice-acted enemies that like a bit of dialogue when you meet them.
It’s good stuff, well delivered. But……..you’re in a time loop, and after a while you just want to see the end in sight. I like exploring and learning, but I’ve gotten pretty tired of going to the same places over and over. Upgrading the same abilities with slight variations of function.
I know someone will be here in the morning, there in the afternoon, and there in the evening. But I don’t care. I’ve killed all the “bosses” and had to do it again and again.
Sure, I enjoy a roguelite from time to time, but this isn’t quite the same.
Unless you’re a speed runner, you can be spending an hour just going after a specific slab upgrade or weapon. You can’t save during that time to come back to exactly where you are, so progress is lost.
The flow of Deathloop is such that you need to be able to set hours aside at a time to progress (until you’ve mastered everything). Unlike a roguelite that would generally be max of an hour for a full run (generally speaking). So I’m struggling to engage because it needs me to have enough time in single sittings to do anything meaningful.
I’ve felt like my hands are tied, because I don’t have 4-5 hour slots to really dive in at any one time. Almost like a punishment for trying. This is what turns me away from Deathloop, and what ultimately means I’ll likely never see it through to the end.
Deathloop is a fantastically constructed game. A joy to play, and clearly built with attention to detail and love. The theme is tightly-crafted and everything just works wonderfully.
It is sad that I can’t sit and finish it as I would like. But to see multiple times of day, take down multiple targets and make sure I reap my rewards of residiuum and slabs/weapons, feels insurmountable. I’m not getting that “just a quick run” opportunity of a roguelite, despite it kind of sitting in that wheelhouse.
Sure, it’s not aiming to be that necessarily. But it doesn’t give me the flexibility to save and return to a specific time and place. Meaning I either sacrifice progress or my time, and I’m afraid my time has to come first.
Perhaps one day I’ll be able to return and commit to it. Because again, Deathloop is a wonderfully-built game. Prohibitive in how hard it labours the time loop, though, and that’s ultimately impacting my enjoyment.