March 25, 2023

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Deathloop looks like more than Dishonored with guns – it’s Arkane does Hitman

It’s a delicious irony that one of PlayStation 5’s most exciting exclusive prospects this year comes from some of the newest members of the extended Xbox Game Studios family, but let’s not let that quirk of timing obscure the real story here: Arkane Studios, creators of some of the finest immersive sim experiences in its brace of Dishonored games and 2017’s superlative if somewhat underappreciated Prey, is back with an all-new game that funnels some of that expertise into a tightly wound timeloop, and layers plenty more on top besides.

The topline? It’s Dishonored with guns, an extension of Arkane’s previous work in the world of immersive sims that mixes all that sorcery and supernatural power into a hard-boiled late 60s world of assassins and stylish villain’s lairs; there’s a dash of Clockwork Orange, a touch of The Prisoner, a serving or two of John Boorman’s Point Blank and even – if you’re old enough to recall – a bit of Monolith’s beloved No One Lives Forever.

It’s quite the mixing pot, then, but there’s no doubting that first and foremost this is an Arkane joint, an immersive sim swimming in style and full of all sorts of murderous possibilities. You play as Colt, waking with a bleary head on the bleak shores of Blackreef. A remote northern European island, it first presents itself as a head of cliffs as craggy as Colt’s hangover as he pieces together his situation – helped along by floating, fragmented text prompts, a knowing lift from What Remains of Edith Finch and further confirmation, should you need any, that Arkane is a studio with exquisite taste.

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