You look at games like Dead Cells, and it’s very clear that the roguelike genre has become a staple part of the gaming industry over the last couple of years. Those gameplay ideas of being caught in an eternal groundhog slay time-loop and fighting your way out have slowly begun to appear in more than just indie games.
Returnal from Sony is a prime example, and Deathloop also seems to have a few influences from the genre guiding its trigger-fingers. But is Deathloop a rogue-like though? Not exactly.
“First of all there is the structure of the game. As we’ve shown, there are four maps and four time periods. Each time you go into a level or you exit a level, the timer moves to the next time period,” Deathloop creative director Dinga Bakaba explained to me in a recent interview.
You’re choosing to where to go and when to go. That’s very different from what you get in a rogue-like where the goal is to go through a biome that generally procedurally-generated. You have to go through this first biome, and there’s this generally increasingly-difficult next biome, and then you finish the game.
In some cases, some rogue-likes are smart enough to have something to make you want to finish the game more than once. Hades is a brilliant example of this with its narrative pay-off and gameplay modifiers.
This is not what we’re going for. Finishing the end of the day is not finishing the game. We’d be hard-pressed to call that a run actually. It’s a campaign game like Dishonored, but instead of just going through a different map each time, you are going to choose where you are going to go. The world is resetting with every four actions that you do, four turns if you want to think in terms of board games.
But it is at its core a single-player story campaign, it is the world that is resetting.
According to Bakaba, the team also looked at the idea of the time loop, making slight randomisation changes such as an NPC choosing to equip a shotgun. NPC personalities remain fixed however, with Bakaba mentioning that if an enemy is a coward by nature, they’ll always duck for cover regardless of the weapon that they wield.
One other key aspect of Deathloop’s design is its overall difficulty. When players first start the game, Colt will naturally be underpowered and easily overwhelmed if he bites off more than he can chew on Blackreef island. But once you have a few loops under your belt and an arsenal of super-powers? Deathloop takes on a different feel to its design.
“By that time, it’s not at all about challenge. It’s about going where you want to go, doing what you want to do and solving this puzzle,” Bakaba said.
This is an Arkane game, we have the pillars of letting the players play in their own way, so again difficulty is something that you can completely circumvent . The fact that you have this open-ended play style, allows you to use stealth if something is too difficult with combat or use combat if something is too difficult with stealth.
If something is just too difficult for you, just do something else.
Last Updated: May 21, 2021