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Time after time

Bethesda and developers Arkane Lyon recently held a preview session for their upcoming, and highly anticipated title, Deathloop. We at Hooked Gamers were lucky enough to catch up with Game Director Dingba Bakaba and Art Director Sébastien Mitton as they walked us through a small section of the shooter with a puzzle aspect.

For those of you who haven’t heard anything about Deathloop, the game takes place on an island known as Blackreef, where our protagonist Colt awakes on a deserted beach. He is suffering from a mild amnesia, but as he progresses across the island, he slowly recovers some of that memory. In fact, many of the items he comes across will cause a sense of déjà vu – mainly because he has been here before and has previously come to any untimely demise. And it will likely not be his last death and resurrection – which is where the Deathloop title comes into effect.

Break the Loop

Colt soon learns that to break the loop, he must destroy eight targets – known as Visionaries – before the day is out, with the knowledge that he himself is being hunted by an assassin by the name of Juliana. But to locate these Visionaries, Colt must follow a series of clues that places his targets at a specified location during a specific moment throughout the day. Clues come in the form of floating messages that have been left for him, recordings and eavesdropping on NPCs. According to our preview hosts, many clues will only be able to be employed at a certain time period. For example, the city library is closed at night and so will need to be accessed during daylight hours.

Visually, Deathloop has a cool 1960’s or 1970’s vibe, and our hero has a Sean Connery era James Bond feel about him – one that gains a host of Bioshock Plasmid-style powers through the course of his travels (more on this later). The jazzy beat of the soundtrack further enhances the tone of the era. The colourful island of Black Reef is split up into four distinct locations – The Complex, Updaam, Fristad Rock and Karl’s Bay. And although we only got to see a couple of these in our preview, what we did see was glorious. And from what we saw, each area will have a different ambience depending on the time of day that you visit.

Do it your way

The game allows for varying play styles, permitting gamers to go into a stealthy ninja type of playstyle or blast their way out of any situation. From what we’ve seen, either would work in most situations, although some situations may favour one particular style over another. Gamers have several weapons at their disposal to make their task easier. Armed with a machete gives gamers the quiet approach, as can a silenced Nail-Gun, but for those who like to make a more explosive entrance, Deathloop has handguns, SMG’s, Machine guns, rifles, shotguns, and grenades at their disposal. Gamers can also deploy an Automatic turret and can acquire a versatile tool known as a Hackamajig – which as you will probably determine from the name – permits unlocking of doors and hacking of turrets.

Throughout the course of the game, Colt will also be able to collect various trinkets. These trinkets offer bonuses to Colts weapons, his Slab powers (more on this shortly) and his physical attributes. Examples of these trinket bonuses include reduced gun recoil, increased magazine sizes, or increased accuracy when handling a weapon. Other trinkets can enable Colt to make less noise when moving, increase his mana, or reduce damage taken when falling.

Along with the array of weapons at his disposal, Colt will also be able to learn some supernatural powers (similarly to those in Bioshock) after collecting rare artifacts known as Slabs. The use of these powers will again often depend on a player’s game style. The Shift (teleport) and Aether (invisibility) powers will benefit those with a stealthy style, whilst Havoc (damage absorption) and Karnesis would probably build on the strengths of those with an all-guns-blazing style. The Reprise skill is probably the most powerful though, as it gives gamers the ability to rewind time upon a death on two occasions. In a way, it acts as a retro three lives scenario. The Nexus skill is another that most gamers would enjoy as it allows gamers to link enemies together – with the result that killing one, will kills them all.

Looking promising

From what we saw in the guided preview, Deathloop is as much a puzzle game as it is a shooter, requiring the gamer to work through a series of clues to find the location of their targets. There is a linear aspect to the game, but players are free to work through the game however they see fit. With the range of weapons, powers, and trinkets available to the players, there is something for all styles. The cool 1960’s vibe and the requirement to search for clues to track down your targets give Deathloop a mysterious ambience. The various locations, and their varying style from one time period to the next gives gamers something new to encounter whenever they visit. There have not been too many games I have played that have used time in this way (the indie game Mars Underground is one that does it well, albeit in a pixelart style) whereby your interactions will determine how the next time period will play out. We are looking forward to seeing more of the game as it gets closer to release.

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