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Deathloop's Excellent Characters and Gunplay Can't Fix Its Identity Crisis

Deathloop's Excellent Characters and Gunplay Can't Fix Its Identity Crisis Image
  • Posted on 29th Sep, 2022 02:31 AM
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Deathloop is a game that can't decide what it wants to be and ultimately becomes a victim of its own unfocused, genre-melding gameplay.

What is Deathloop? It's a simple question, but one that's sure to constantly poke at the back of a player's mind as they dive into Arkane Studios and Bethesda's newest title. Is it a roguelike? A spiritual successor to Dishonored? Is it a single-player or multiplayer game? To each of these questions, Deathloop answers yes...and no. Deathloop doesn't commit to being any one type of game, and in that regard, it's breaking new ground that'll undoubtedly serve as inspiration to other future titles. That said, without a solid gameplay identity, much of the game devolves into tedious back and forth tasks highlighted by the occasional boss fight or interesting conversation.

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Deathloop ultimately suffocates under its own gameplay. It tries to be too many things and, in the process, overlooks the minute-to-minute player experience. Any goodwill generated from the unique weapon selection or admittedly excellent banter between Colt and Julianna gets sapped away when players realize they have to revisit the same building for the fourth time in the last hour. It's a shame, because Deathloop has the narrative and framework to be so much more than it is.

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Deathloop's Story And Characters Steal The Show

Players must return to the hideout in between runs, completely robbing any built immersion, something Prey was great at, by forcing the trudge back and forth so frequently. Main objectives might require revisiting the same location at different times or after completing specific actions. Soon, a tiresome pattern emerges. Players will ferry Colt back and forth between his hideout and some Blackreef location in what feels like a never-ending string of fetch quests. Players know they're working towards setting the events in motion needed to assassinate all targets in one day, but it feels like a slow and dull path there. There's some optional content in Blackreef's locales, but like main objectives, many are tied to specific prerequisites. In essence, players will find many more locked doors than open ones. Worse still, the "hideout" is just a screen with an onslaught of menu options and deployable locations. It's the kind of character screen you'd expect to see in a multiplayer-focused title like PUBG or Hunt: Showdown. It feels out of place, but players will be seeing it a lot.

Deathloop is not a bad game so much as it is a missed opportunity. If it had focused on exploring the philosophical and ethical themes its story hints at or just strived to be a groundbreaking roguelike, Deathloop would've struck gold. Blackreef Isle is an absolutely fascinating setting that's just as interesting as Colt and Julianna. And while the leads steals the show, the Visionaries seem like they'd be just as entertaining if given the opportunity. In another reality where Arkane leans solely on a narrative-driven, single-player experience or a full-fledged AAA roguelike, Deathloop is a can't-miss title. However, despite the game's director swearing it's not, Deathloop just feels like a very expensive roguelike with cool ideas and terrible execution. It'll do the trick for any player that absolutely needs to play a new Arkane game. For everyone else interested, best to wait for a sale.

KEEP READING: Can Your PC Run Deathloop?

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