Pre-install with Game Pass or pre-order “DEATHLOOP” today!
— DEATHLOOP (@deathloop) September 15, 2022
Finally, after waiting until a pre-existing one-year exclusivity deal comes to an end, the critically acclaimed Deathloop is now available on Xbox Series X|S. Furthermore, because it’s a Bethesda title, it’s also available on Xbox Game Pass right now.
So, what is Deathloop? In a nutshell, you play as Colt. A mysterious time-traveller of sorts, stuck in an endless loop. After having visions of being murdered by a woman named Julianna, Colt awakens on a beach, with a heavy head thanks to a hangover. Was this just a dream? Apparently not. In fact, it seems to be one of the many instances in which Colt has been murdered by Julianna. It seems that Colt is stuck in this endless loop, being murdered over and over again. At the centre of it all, is Julianna, who just so happens to enjoy tormenting poor colt.
However, Colt has had enough and he’s determined to end this loop and finally stop Julianna once and for all. Sadly, for Colt, even if he were to stop Julianna, would the cycle really end? As it happens, Julianna is seemingly one step ahead and if Colt really wants to put an end to this loop, he’s going to have to dig deep and discover the truth behind the loop and what her intentions for Julianna really are. Can Colt finally break the chain? Only time will tell.
I’ll be honest, I was very dubious at the hype that has surrounded Deathloop for the past year since it was first released on PS5. We’ve seen it time and time again, a couple of high-profile outlets sing the praises of a new game and before we know it, everyone is apparently calling it game of the year or even, one of the best games they’ve ever played. Are those opinions incorrect? No, not at all. After all, everyone has their own opinion whether we agree with them or not. However, is Deathloop at the very least an enjoyable game? Absolutely, in fact, it’s an absolute blast.
One of the concerns that I initially had with Deathloop was its replayability and value. Which seems odd to say for a game that centres around an endless time loop. The problem I had was that Deathloop only has four main locations on the island of Black Reef. The locations are Updaam, The Complex, Fristad Rock and Karl’s Bay. However, the four locations do have four times of day; morning, noon, afternoon as well as evening. So, I suppose you could say that Deathloop has 16 levels? Kind of.
Judging Deathloop on only having four main locations would make it easy to dismiss the value of this game. Yet, by doing that, you’d be seriously underrating the excitement and joy that a game such as this can bring. You see, without giving too much away, almost every time you visit a location, something will change, at times, drastically. This can happen even when you revisit a location at the same time of day.
Furthermore, if you visit during a different time of day, a lot can change. Whether it’s enemy routines, barriers, enemy types or weaponry. Each visit to each location will keep you on your toes with every playthrough. However, even when I say that it still feels like I’m underselling Deathloop in that respect. Whenever you achieve the mission objective, you will learn a little more about how to stop Julianna and the loop.
As you learn more, you will also have to revisit a location in search of new intel, which will often require you to infiltrate a new area of said location. Yet as you learn more about the truth behind the loop, your enemies will be learning more about you too. This is why the mechanic of Deathloop feels dynamic, if not, organic. I know it’s not actually organic, because it’s a pre-programmed piece of software. But that’s the genius of Deathloop, providing the illusion that the game is learning as much about you as you are of it.
The more you learn and progress in the world of Deathloop, the more powerful weaponry, gadgets and supernatural abilities you’ll acquire. It’s the supernatural abilities that make you feel like a super-powered James Bond. You can kill or manipulate your enemies in truly creative ways. It’s in this element when the identity of Arkane Lyon shines, the team behind that fantastic Dishonored series.
However, Deathloop has another creative card up its sleeve and that’s player invasion (which is optional by the way). As long as you activate the multiplayer function of your campaign, players can invade your game as Julianna, who is equally as powerful as you. The goal of Julianna is to stop Colt from breaking the loop.
At first, being the anxious individual that I am, I was unsure of allowing other players to invade my game. However, much like Dark Souls and Elden Ring, it’s incredibly satisfying when you take down a player that has the audacity to infiltrate your game. Yet in Deathloop, to me at least, it felt even more satisfying. Especially when you’ve not only out-smarted the invading player but especially when you’ve stealth killed a player who thought they could out-stealth you.
However, if you don’t want players to invade or you to invade them, this choice is completely optional. Instead, an AI-controlled Julianna can invade your game rather than a real player. Which by the way, is still very satisfying when taking down the reasonably intelligent AI-controlled player.
Speaking of AI, the same can’t be said for the general grunts of Deathloop, which can be quite easy to outsmart if you’re used to stealth games. Though it is always fun sneaking up on the dumb AI and booting them over the edge of a cliff. Furthermore, if you choose not to play in stealth or like me, a stealth mission can easily turn into utter chaos, Deathloop is still immense fun gunning down alerted enemies that will relentlessly come at you to end your life. In fact, if you prefer the gung-ho style, you will probably enjoy the all-out action of Deathloop as much as the stealth-oriented player.
Elsewhere in Deathloop, this game is a stunning beauty. Its 1960’s utopian setting is equally vibrant as it is eerie. The visual identity of Deathloop has Arkane’s fingerprints all over it, as much as its signature gameplay style. At the time of writing this review, I was playing Deathloop on the Xbox Series S, and it’s easily the best-looking game I’ve played on the little brother of the Series X. However, now that Deathloop is available for PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium subscribers, I can’t wait to try this game on the PS5.
Furthermore, the audio design of Deathloop is sublime, to say the least. The constant banter between Colt (Jason E. Kelley) and Julianna (Ozioma Akagha) is incredible and had me laughing out loud countless times. And this is coming from a person that very few video games have made me laugh. I know humour is subjective, but I often find that video game humour can feel very cheap and is poorly written. However, that is not the case with Deathloop. Not only is this game superbly written, but its tone is to an equal standard. Oh, and the soundtrack, the work of composers Ross Tregenza, Tom Salta and Alexandra Petkovski perfectly complements Deathloop in every way.
The GOLDENLOOP update arrives tomorrow with some new treats for everyone!
⚔️ New weapon – HALPS Prototype
🎭 New Eternalist – Paint-Bomber
♾️Crossplay for Invasion Matchmaking
There is no better time to visit Blackreef. pic.twitter.com/HLGDQhSvkf
— DEATHLOOP (@deathloop) September 19, 2022
It’s also worth mentioning that launching alongside the Xbox Series X|S release of Deathloop is the free Goldenloop update. This update brings new accessibility features, a photo mode, as well as new weapons and enemies. More importantly, this update adds an extended ending as well as cross-play matchmaking for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Happy days. The Goldenloop update is available across all formats.
To conclude, was Deathloop overhyped by some? That’s not for me to say. However, is Deathloop genuinely one of the best games released in recent years? Absolutely. Put it this way, I found it so difficult to pull myself away from this game’s fun and addictive gameplay that I nearly burned my tea in the oven.
It’s seemed like an age until Xbox gamers have been able to see what the fuss is about, but as my wife constantly tells me, “patience is a virtue” and that can certainly be applied here too. Deathloop is charming, enticing and exhilarating. In 2021, Deathloop may have been the PC and PS5 game of the year for now, and now in 2022, it’s the turn of the Xbox.