Colt Vahn, our hero, wakes up with a start on a beach. After a nightmare in which an unnamed woman hunts him down and drives a machete through his heart, he is happy to realize that his body is still full of blood, but fears to discover that his head is empty of memories. As he explores this mysterious place, luminous words materialize out of thin air to guide him to his goal. “BREAK THE LOOP,” it reads. 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 disturbing ease as he approaches a house on a rocky outcrop. He hacks it using his aptly named Hackamajig, and then it’s time to see that woman again. Her name is Julianna, she knows Colt even though he doesn’t know her, and it’s her mission to kill him. All. Only. Day.
This lawless island is Blackreef, and all its inhabitants live in an infinite loop initiated by the AEON program. It is a point in time fueled by the energy of eight individuals with heavy egos. These visionaries are a group of scientists, artists and entrepreneurs at the forefront of their respective fields. They are 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 to their bodies. Ergo, if you leave Visionaries, this loop destabilizes to a sudden stop.
Obviously, Colt and the Visionaries suffer from a… conflict of interest. The problem is that Colt only has 24 hours left to eliminate every visionary, and the entire island has been ordered to shoot Colt on sight. As such, Death Loop is a first-person shooter with a detective story woven throughout its masterful direction. Each loop reveals a core of knowledge, a weakness, a secret code, an unlocked door, new weapons and abilities to assassinate the visionaries.
Admittedly, it initially takes a while to click because you and Colt have been thrown into the depths. Death LoopThe showy and gory exploits of ensure that your gathering information about the worst place on earth populated by the worst people on the planet is hugely entertaining. With a selection of slabs, the player could venture into the freezing night with Aether and Shift, hoping to outsmart Egor. Other times it might call for brutality with Havoc and Nexus mowing down enemies to reach Frank in the Ramblin’ Rock Club. Guns pop and crackle with stylized flashes and punchy sound. Each loop and each win means that the threat you pose to the loop is greater and greater, until every piece of the puzzle has been found.
Of course, it’s your choice to break the loop. You could step into Julianna’s shoes and protect the loop, invade other players’ timelines, and be very backstabbing. I’ve been on either side of this and the adversity between the two characters is heightened when you know this is a real game of tag and… well, tag. Julianna also has access to powers and the ability to masquerade, allowing her to mimic the appearance of any NPC. This battle is devilishly delicious when you’ve finished the game and a rookie Colt is wandering here and there wondering where you are or if I’m throwing him through the streets trying to get to a health station before she don’t kill me for the second time.
In all, Death Loop offers superb “ah ha!” moments alongside mortifying failures in a setting that exudes style. You charge in, killing left, right, and center, and yet there’s a little part of you that thinks it would be so terrible? Living the same day over and over again? It’s usually when Julianna shoots you from the other side of the path. That’s it, on our PC game of the year.