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Colt Vahn, our hero, jolts awake on a beach. After a nightmare wherein an anonymous woman is hunting him and sinks a machete into his heart, he is happy to realise his body is still full of blood, but fearful to find out his head is empty of memories. As he explores this mysterious locale, glowing words materialise out of thin air to guide him to his goal. “BREAK THE LOOP,” reads one. Something tells him this is no ordinary hangover.
Check out a gameplay trailer for Deathloop, below…
Lightly armed, he dispatches enemies doused in paint and glitter with disquieting ease as he approaches a house on an outcrop of rock. He hacks into it using his aptly named Hackamajig, and then it’s time to meet that woman again. Her name is Julianna, she knows Colt though he doesn’t know her, and it is her mission to kill him. Every. Single. Day.
This lawless isle is Blackreef, and all of its people are living inside an infinite loop initiated by the AEON Program. It’s a temporal stitch in time powered by the energy of eight individuals with weighty egos. These Visionaries are a group of scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs at the vanguard of their respective fields. They’re also self-indulgent, self-important killers who want to live forever and, in order to ensure this, the anchors to secure the loop have been redirected from the anomaly and into their bodies. Ergo, if you off the Visionaries, that loop destabilises to a sudden stop.
Obviously, Colt and the Visionaries suffer a… conflict of interest. The issue is that there’s only 24 hours for Colt to eliminate every single Visionary and the entire island has been directed to shoot Colt on sight. As such, Deathloop is a first-person shooter with a detective story woven throughout its masterful direction. Every loop reveals a kernel of knowledge, a weakness, a secret code, an unlocked door, new weapons and abilities to assassinate the Visionaries with.
Granted, this initially takes some time to click because both you and Colt have been chucked into the deep end. Deathloop’s gaudy and gory exploits guarantee that your gathering of intel of the worst place on the planet populated with the worst people on the planet is exceedingly entertaining. With a selection of Slabs, the player might venture out into the frigid night with Aether and Shift, hoping to outsmart Egor. Other times might ask for heavy-handedness with Havoc and Nexus, mowing down enemies to reach Frank in the Ramblin' Rock Club. Guns pop and crackle with stylised flashes and punchy audio. Each loop and each gain means that the threat you pose to the loop looms larger and larger, until every single puzzle piece has been found.
Of course, it’s your choice to break the loop. You could step into Julianna’s shoes and protect the loop, invading other players’ timelines and being very stabby-stabby. I’ve been on either side of this situation and the adversity between the two characters is heightened when you know it’s a proper game of cat and… well, cat. Julianna also has access to powers and the Masquerade ability, allowing her to mimic the appearance of any NPC. This battle is devilishly delightful when you’ve finished the game and a rookie Colt tiptoes hither and thither wondering where you are or if I’m pelting it through the streets trying to get to a health station before she kills me for the second time.
All in all, Deathloop offers awesome “ah ha!” moments alongside mortifying failures in a setting that oozes style. You charge about, murdering left, right and centre, and yet there’s some small part of you that thinks would it be so terrible? To live the same day over and over? That’s usually when Julianna snipes you from across the way. That’s all folks, on our PC game of the year.
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