Arkane Studios has built a strong cult following over the last decade. Its expertise is developing immersive sims – games that facilitate unpredictable stories and emergent gameplay through player choice, complex AI, persistent systems, and sandbox level design. Like the best immersive sims, Deathloop encourages you to use its robust suite of tools to poke at its many systems and environments to differing results, which then allows you to piece together the best route through any place. However, unlike its predecessors Dishonored and Prey, Deathloop doesn’t have one specific mission, ability, or weapon that stands out as the best part of the adventure. Instead, it showcases how a game’s many elements can interact with one another to create a truly unique experience.
Specifically, the game’s level design and time of day system work together to create a setting that invites exploration and houses adaptive characters to provide consequences to player actions. Add in a consistent ruleset and shared design language that permeates every aspect of Deathloop, and you’ll understand why the title is one of the best releases of 2021.
There isn’t one particular thread greater than the rest. Deathloop is an impressive intersection of stories and gameplay systems woven together to create a tapestry deserving of your attention. In my latest video essay, I break down the game design behind Deathloop in an attempt to better understand one of the best games on PlayStation 5 and my personal favorite game of 2021:
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