Staying in the loop

Colt sizes up another roomful of Eternalists to be overcome in Bethesda’s new Deathloop. IMAGE:...
Colt sizes up another roomful of Eternalists to be overcome in Bethesda’s new Deathloop. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

From: Bethesda

For: PS5, PC ★★★+


This seems like one of those games that will either knock your socks off or leave you wondering what all the fuss is about.

Deathloop has certainly provoked some polarising opinions since its launch as a timed console exclusive for the PS5 — ironic, as it comes from Bethesda, now owned by Xbox maker Microsoft.

Perhaps ‘‘polarising’’ is a bit strong. It does seem a lot of leading gaming outlets have given Deathloop a perfect score or close to it, regarding it as perhaps the best game released in this still-young new console generation.

But some regard it as merely average. Others, like me, can see a lot of good things in the game but also wonder if it is really as jaw-droppingly amazing as others seem to think.

Deathloop hasn’t grabbed me as hard as, say, Red Dead Redemption or Ghost of Tsushima or the 26 different Fifas I own, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Possibly it is residual scarring from Returnal, the similar-but-different rogue-like shooter that landed on PS5 earlier this year and used a vaguely equivalent structure, and also drove me nuts.

In this, you play Colt, an assassin stuck in a time loop on an island called Blackreef, used by a scientist called Egor Serling to experiment with the concept of immortality.

Colt was once a Visionary, one of the eight people drawn to Serling’s cause, who were given the freedom of the island with the hedonistic ability to do whatever they liked all day, surrounded by hangers-on called Eternalists, then wake up the next day with no memory and the chance to cut loose all over again.

The time loop suddenly spits out an anomaly — or two. Colt develops the ability to retain his memory and starts to realise things are not ideal. And a woman called Julianna also breaks the loop, realising Colt is seeking to shut things down and must be stopped. The cat-and-mouse game is on.

Gameplay is split over four regions at four different times of day, and Colt’s quest is to track down his eight targets and learn how and where they can be taken out.

It’s a trial-and-error process, as the loop resets at the end of each day, or when Colt is eliminated himself. So you follow leads, retain key information about the targets and use it to work out how to do the ‘‘perfect run’’ — whacking all eight targets in a day.

Colt can also unlock and earn various power-ups that can help him achieve his quest.

There is a multiplayer element (which can be turned off) in which opposing gamers can assume the role of Julianna and enter your game to turn you from hunter to hunted.

There is a lot of information to process but the game does a good job in presenting it, and in reminding you what you need to doing.

It’s also good fun. There are stealth elements mixed with a bit of parkour and wild gunplay, and it’s all set in a cool art deco-ish world that has the flavour of the Swinging Sixties.

If you like a bit of humour and chaos, Deathloop has plenty going for it.

My only real word of caution is that some will not enjoy the whole loop mechanic, and this might be a case of being in it for a good time, not a long time.

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