Deathloop (Review)

It seems that games lately are making use of the roguelike subgenre’s looping mechanic to not only reduce the necessary world-building budget, but to create more intricate concepts regarding the idea of “what would you do differently if you had a second chance?”.  I do feel, however, that a fair early warning is needed: this game’s trailers and whatnot portray Deathloop as more of an FPS than it really is.  But does that stop this from being a good use of roguelike looping?


GAMEPLAY

…your main objective: learning.

Yea, the trailers aren’t exactly accurate.  What it appears like is a shooter with powers, but what it actually is… is a lot of exploration and gathering.  Yup: you’re going to be doing a lot of gathering and pressing of buttons.  That comes at a cost: because the focus of the core mechanic is NOT the shooting, it can feel a bit archaic despite how well geared up you get towards the end of the game.  If you’re used to modern FPS games like Call of Duty, do not expect anything close to that level of tight aiming response and fluid movement.  This pervades into the platforming as well as it’s often needed to backdoor your targets (known as “visionaries”), and you’ll find jumping can be a bit lackadaisical and wonky.  The good news, then?  None of that really matters all too much considering it takes a back seat to your main objective: learning.  Through loop after loop, you investigate and spend a lot of time following leads to better learn how to assassinate all of them in a single loop.  And in this lies the real meat and potatoes, and I found myself going to sleep thinking about planned digital murder.  At the same time, I do want to mention it does hold your hand through the entire process, so at times it really felt like all I did was the collecting.  But at the end of the day, I still had to pull the trigger, and the game made sure I learned what I needed to succeed.  It’s a pity, then, that the shooting and movement feel unrefined, because I couldn’t get enough of planning the demise of all the visionaries.  If you love planning murders, you’ll probably enjoy this game thoroughly.


CONTENT

…there isn’t much to go back for…

You might recall moments ago when I said the game holds your hand.  I completed the game in about 15 hours, and I’m pretty sure that’s close to what most people will take to see the end credits roll.  Unfortunately, once you’re done with the game, there isn’t much to go back for unless you want to play as Julianna and make other players’ lives difficult.  Per the usual, you’ll have completionists hunting that platinum trophy, but other than that, most people will see the conclusion and call it a quits.  At the full price tag, this is a bit lackluster on the content front, even if it fortunately does not have the $10 Sony exclusive tax attached to it.


PRESENTATION

There’s a level of comedic sarcasm I genuinely enjoyed…

This is an interesting area if you’re on the PS5.  There is really only one usable mode: Performance.  Both other modes seem to have lots of framerate stuttering (yes, even in the ray tracing mode locked to 30 fps!), and the visual upgrades are sometimes even worse.  Yes, ray tracing mode is sadly rather disappointing on a number of fronts from shiny guns looking strangely grainy to reflections not really being that well done.  The good news is that the performance mode only had occasional hiccups, and though this mode hampers the lighting in a way that makes the game look last gen, the art style in place keeps things appearing clean.  Unfortunately, I ran into several visual glitches and AI bugs, and worse: soft locks of the game that I later learned were tied to my very rapid navigation of the menus during new collection of information.  But much like gameplay, technical prowess is not this game’s focus.  Instead, I was surprised by the very well-acted voice of both Colt and Julianna, a type of banter that really felt like the two voice actors were sitting in the booth together for their lines.  There’s a level of comedic sarcasm I genuinely enjoyed as the story progressed, and this carried to some of the visionaries, but that was all a background to the banter between the two main characters.  This was one of those rare occasions where I actually WANTED to hear more of their banter every map and every loop.


CONCLUSION

…information-gather, murder-planning rogue-like.

There’s a bit of deception going on, here: what I thought I’d get was a more shooter-with-powers type of game, but what I actually got was more of an information-gathering, murder-planning rogue-like.  If you take that bit of knowledge with an open mind going into this game, there’s a unique enjoyment to be had, here.  Sure, it’s shooting and movement mechanics are a bit janky and archaic, it’s a bit light on content, and it’s not going to technically impress anyone (assuming the glitches and soft locks are fixed by the time of this review), but I can’t pretend the loop didn’t deliver excellent banter along the way to learning what it means to be a top tier, digital murderer.

I give Deathloop

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