Notes on Deathloop #7

This RPS story on Deathloop is spot on.

In his Deathloop review, Brendy described Colt as “playing it by ass”. I liked that line, but I didn’t yet understand its true gravitas. I am now enlightened. I have beheld the true ass of Colt, and I have grasped its magnitude: Colt’s ass is the antithesis to Dishonored’s heart. Blam. Boot. Blam. None of you are free of sin.

Absent the spectral whispers of a murdered empress for guidance, or the crushing burden of a city teetering between ruin and hope, Colt allows his glute-instincts to scribble his itinerary through Murderparty Island. While my Emily Kaldwin peers at the souls of militia trapped by poverty and circumstance and opts for the sleep darts, my Colt is stifling laughter as he sticks four proximity mines to a firework and launches it at a happy drunk.

Deathloop encourages this by not only scrapping Dishonored’s wagging narrative finger, but actively lopping it off with a machete. Then it sews on a new finger, perpetually pointing out an array of blissful idiots who simply cannot get enough of the very edge of roofs. Colt is the rare videogame shootyman who isn’t Doom Guy and just straight up enjoys his job as much as the player does. Both he and Julliana are Arkane protagonists cut from the cloth that the studio usually reserves for its much more interesting fringe oddballs while the leading parts go to stoics and mutes. I have some gripes with Deathloop, but I’ll take Colt and Julianna’s worst one liners over Corvo lamenting Dishonored’s much more interesting world while he perches on a roof like a grim, guilt-ridden, gravel-throated gargoyle. Homicidal glee is, it turns out, incredibly infectious.

Lighthearted time loop stories usually feature a sort of ‘seven stages of grief’ arc. Confusion. Despair. Acceptance. Then playful nihilism, like Bill Murray eating facefuls of cake for breakfast. This is always the best part. Deathloop knows this. Personal growth and altruism are for suckers who don’t recognise a good thing when they see it. Revenge is best served in perpetuity, in the pettiest ways imaginable. Bill Murray never had to floss again, and Colt never has to wash the face fragments off his best kicking boots.

I think that sums up pretty well why I like this game so much. It isn’t as full of itself and its world as Dishonored and it’s simply a lot more fun to play than Prey. And the time loop, while on the face of it being a pretty tired literary device, does explain a lot of things rather neatly that videogames often struggle with. Like how you come back after you die as a player. Why the main character speaks to himself. How he knows certain things. And why he doesn’t care what happens to people and happily goes on a murdering rampage.

Games like Dishonored give you a ton of cool weapons and then basically tell you off for using them. Because you killed someone or didn’t completely ghost a level. Deathloop does away with all of this crap and lets you have fun. This time, you actually can play the way you like. That was probably the best decision Arkane ever made.