Let’s get this out of the way, Deathloop is good. Like 7/10 good, maybe closer to 8/10. But going anything above that is what I would call a stretch. Or handwaving glaring issues that the game does have. But despite this opinion that I and a lot of casual consumers share, some big-time reviewers would have you believe that it’s a perfect 10.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s all just opinions. But what is a fact instead of an opinion is that Deathloop AI is downright awful. Enemies don’t react to executions happening inches away from them. And when alerted they stand in place and shoot at you, rarely even taking cover. Or they bumrush into the room you hid in, only to step on ALL the traps you laid out. Combine that with the fact that enemy variety doesn’t exist, and the game will be getting stale after a couple of loops.
I’m baffled as to how this happened in truth. This is Arkane Studios we are talking about. The core of their formula usually includes a variety of enemy types with unique weaknesses and strengths. In Deathloop the “variety” seems to end at the type of weapon the enemies possess. And here is the weakness of each of them: just shoot them. Killing enemies, even huge waves of them, is effortless in this game.
At first, it was exciting. You have limited lives for each area, so you try to sneak about respecting your adversaries. But this feeling quickly fades away due to enemy incompetence. Contrast this with Dishonored whereupon breaking stealth you often had to deal with A LOT. Not only numbers, but enemy types, and different tactics came into play all the time. Even basic enemies were notable swordsmen who often forced you to use your magic powers or gadgets to win duels.
Deathloop core gameplay is deceptivly simple.
But few of us bought the game for combat alone I’m sure. Deathloop after all is advertised with this interesting story about breaking a time loop placed on the protagonist. And it seems like the only way to do this is to eliminate 8 “visionaries” on the same loop. So you would expect something like this: gather information on all your targets, plan out each assassination and then carry them all out. Kinda like Hitman with that Arkane flavors of action, superpowers, and lurking in the shadows. Which sounds awesome.
That’s the problem right there, the game is not even close to being open-ended like Hitman, or any Arkane game before it. It is in fact, a VERY linear experience. Where you arrive at the only possible conclusion to the story after you investigate each visionary. No moral choices of Dishonored. No complex world interactivity like Prey. Heck, even Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, a 15 years old game, has more varied and nuanced combat.
It’s not all bad, natrually.
I have been harping on the negatives for a while now, but the game is not all bad! The weapon variety is actually impressive, with some unique arsenals being creative as hell. The story is pretty interesting, the characters are cool, and the dialogue ranges from cringy to genuinely funny. And I think the latter prevails in the end. The invasion system is a great addition when it works. There is a solid game underneath it all. But it’s being promoted by outlets and marketing as something it definitely is not.
Deathloop is available right now for PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows. In September 2022 it heads to Xbox consoles, and the Xbox App.