Games: Deathloop is a sci-fi actioner akin to Groundhog Day meets James Bond, starring Shaft
FROM Palm Springs and Boss Level to Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day, it seems like we've become stuck in a time-loop of time-loop movies of late – and games are following suit.
But if the sombre shoot-die-repeat antics of Returnal were too po-faced for the trigger-finger crowd, French code-jugglers Arkane have a groovy riposte, weaving their old Dishonored formula into a rip-roaring sci-fi actioner that plays out like Groundhog Day meets James Bond, starring Shaft.
For a game that repeats the same day over and over, it's ironically something you've never seen before. With its retro-futuristic setting and cult cinema-inspired look, Deathloop's environments, haircuts and threads lie somewhere between the psychedelic 60s and 70s blacksploitation – think Live and Let Die-era Bond with some Tarantino seasoning.
Set on Blackreef Island, where feuding assassins have been offing each other since forever, players slip beneath the leathers of Colt, an amnesiac lug doomed to repeat the same day over and over.
To break the loop, players must line up the game's eight main targets like deadly dominos across a one-day murderthon – though building up to this golden loop takes careful planning as Colt cracks Deathloop's clockwork patterns.
Its four distinct districts, which can be played at different times of the day, are groaning with secrets enabling Colt to get the skinny on his quarry. But die three times in any level and it's back to the beginning – though early on you'll achieve the ability to infuse weapons and items with the game's magic sauce, permanently building both Colt's sci-fi arsenal and funkified versions of supernatural moves seen in Dishonored.
The onion in the ointment – and Deathloop's killer move – is Julianna: Colt's wisecracking nemesis can turn up like a bad smell in any level, ambushing players, mimicking other characters and generally being a pain in the arse throughout.
Julianna is controlled by other online players hell-bent on hampering your progress, though mercifully can be restricted to an AI if you tire of trolls.
While its systems are overwhelming at first, with weapons and abilities fully upgradeable, though only permanent if successfully carted out of a level and infused, the strength of Deathloop's sci-fi hook elevates it above common-or-garden shooters.
With a time-loop concept that could have repeated on you like a dodgy kebab, Deathloop instead offers a blistering blend of action and sci-fi nonsense – and though lacking the overall sophistication of Dishonored, it's still a whip-smart romp stuffed with funky-fresh Groundhog play.