What if every day were the same? Of course that would quickly become boring. But what if every day were the same on an island full of heavily armed idiots who only party and beast because there are no consequences anymore? Then you get something that is anything but boring. Then you get Deathloop.

The concept of Deathloop is simple: the island of Blackreef is engulfed in a time loop for an unknown reason. Everyone wakes up every morning to do the exact same thing, no matter what happened the previous day. Although the city’s residents are aware of the time loop and thus drink, party and stunt as if tomorrow does not exist, no one has memories of what happened the previous day. Except Colt and Julianna. As a player, you start out as Colt, who finds out that he can break the time loop by killing a number of specific targets within one day. But if you die yourself, the day starts all over again.

Does that make Deathloop a roguelite? Not quite. So don’t be put off by the idea of ​​’permadeath’. In Deathloop, to begin with, you have not one, but three lives per time loop. If you really do die, you usually retain a lot of progression and sometimes even weapons, upgrades and supernatural powers, such as the ability to teleport. On the other hand, even if you don’t die, the time loop just restarts when the virtual day is over.

The time loop is therefore more than a simple game mechanic. It’s a fundamental part of the game. The ultimate goal is to kill all targets within one run, but that’s easier said than done. Blackreef is subdivided into four areas and the day is also divided into four parts of the day. You can only visit one area per day part, and your actions also influence the rest of the day. If Hitman is chess, then Deathloop is chess on four boards at once.

A simple example, there is a fireworks factory that is destroyed by a fire every afternoon. Unless you interrupt the power supply to the factory in the morning, so that the fire can never take place. But beware, the fireworks factory will burn down again the next day if you don’t intervene again that day. Knowledge is therefore your greatest weapon. Little by little you puzzle together what to do and what not to get all the targets in exactly the right place, so that you can kill them all in one day.

Because of that setup, dying is rarely frustrating, even if you might lose a super cool weapon. Deathloop isn’t about trial & error, it’s about learning more and more about the game world. You discover a new shortcut, overheard an interesting conversation and now learned something about a target, or managed to ‘Infuse’ a weapon with the interdimensional stuff Residue so that you have it in your arsenal the next day to sit. And if you don’t have enough Residue, at least you now know where and when you can find that weapon again. Every run you make progress in one way or another. The time loop isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing that makes you smarter and stronger. While everyone starts the same routine over and over, you are the only one who knows what will happen and how you can influence the course of events.

Or at least, almost alone. In addition to being Colt, you can also play as Julianna, the only other person who remembers things. While Colt is trying to break the time loop, Julianna tries to defend the time loop. When you play as Julianna, you invade other players’ game. Your only goal then is to annoy the other player. The fun part is that you have no idea how heavily armed or experienced that other player is. Besides, Colt has three lives, but Julianna only has one. So you are at a disadvantage and have to work smarter. For example, you can disguise yourself as a regular NPC to be less noticeable. After some practice, the undersigned even managed to imitate walking routes of an NPC, after all, the NPCs do exactly the same every day. The unsuspecting Colt looked up badly when he thought he was stalking a stupid NPC and was suddenly treated to a shot of hail from close range. But beware, Juliannas from all over the world regularly invade your game.

It is a bit questionable how much stretch there is in the ‘multiplayer’ of Deathloop. As Colt you really do finish the game at some point, while as Julianna you can basically go on indefinitely. So over time, more people will want to play as Julianna than as Colt and of course that’s not possible. As a Colt, you can also disable multiplayer so other players can’t invade your game. By the way, you are not rid of Julianna, because if you go offline, a computer-controlled nemesis will regularly disrupt your game. That battle between Colt and Julianna is simply a fundamental part of Deathloop.

The titular time loop and everything around it is undoubtedly Deathloop’s main achievement, but it’s certainly not the only thing that makes the game so intriguing. After all, Arkane Studios wouldn’t be Arkane Studios if the game world in itself wasn’t incredibly interesting to explore. The world of Deathloop is bizarrely detailed. The 60s aesthetic with organically shaped furniture and washed out colors blends perfectly with a touch of retrofuturism, but that clearly wasn’t unique enough for Arkane.

The island itself is a crazy collection of eccentric locations. Even if you have a number of time loops on it, the environment continues to excite and there are always new things to discover. On top of old military bunkers and concrete complexes, luxurious villas, dance clubs and an arcade hall. There is a kind of open air fair where it is a surprise with every building what is behind the front door, and a castle has been converted into a real life shooting game. Blackreef is a kind of anarchic amusement park and Arkane Studios knows how to convincingly create every attraction.

Arkane even manages to convey the feel of each weapon through the adaptive triggers of the DualSense controller. With the clunky machine gun aptly named Pepper Mil, for example, you feel the recoil in the trigger with each individual bullet. Together with the absurdly fine and genuinely funny voiceover, this is yet another example of a carefully worked out detail with which Arkane Studios goes beyond itself.

Yet we get the feeling that the game world could have been just a little more beautiful. On the PlayStation 5 you unfortunately have to choose between stable 60 fps, ray tracing at 30 fps, or some sort of in-between with nicer graphics without ray tracing and a more unstable frame rate. Because timing and reflex are so essential for a silent killer, in our opinion Performance Mode is the only serious option in practice, but then you miss some graphical bells and whistles.

The only other point of criticism is the somewhat saltless ending, about which we can say little without spoiling it. So we will not go into that further. You could say that the journey there is more exciting than the destination. But hey, by the time you get to that destination, you’ll have found more than enough reasons to include Deathloop in your Game of the Year shortlist.

Deathloop is now available for PlayStation 5 and PC. For this review, we played the game on PlayStation 5.



+ Admirably detailed game world
+ Tantalizing until the end
+ Very strong voice acting
+ Excellent balance

– The multiplayer part can dry up quickly
– Game’s ending leaves little impression