Deathloop, Retunal and the video game time loop

Death loop just released as a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 5, with generally favorable reviews. Praised for its unique gameplay, Death loop has a very apt and literal title. As a character named Colt, your goal is to break the time loop in the shadowy town of BlackReef, which travels the same day over and over again. If at first you don’t succeed, die and die again. This concept of a “time loop” is not new to video games and has been an effective method of telling entertaining stories in movies like. Edge of tomorrow and Curler. What makes the time loop such a compelling concept to incorporate into video games? The model is there, especially in recent versions like 12 minutes, Return, and of course Death loop. Each of these games incorporates the concept of the time loop a little differently, and because of that, each shows what the concept has to offer to video game support as a whole.

On the one hand, the concept of time loop intrinsically lends itself to storytelling. The idea of ​​having to repeat the same events over and over again, each time being a little different and getting something new out of it, is something that can work with a whole host of concepts. This is what led to the creation of another PlayStation exclusive this year, Return. Narrative director Gregory Lueden himself said so, stating in an interview with GamesRadar that “The cyclical nature of narrative design means the further you go, the more you discover Selene. What does the cycle do to someone?” Time loops in video games mean you not only have to craft some interesting gameplay mechanics to keep the cycle fresh, but the storytelling is just as important. What does the cycle mean for the player? What does this mean for the characters the player controls?

A photo of Deathloop

Image via Bethesda Softworks

This is evident in Return, and this is particularly evident for a video game like Death loop, which incorporates all kinds of lore and collectibles that, when all found throughout the multiple phases of the Loop, tell the whole story of Colt and why he wants to escape BlackReef in the first place. This type of storytelling mechanism also allows players to engage more in the game than ever before, providing a new layer of interactivity that would otherwise not be present without the time loop mechanism. The story of time loops also lends itself to more puzzle concepts, with players being encouraged to figure out how to ‘break the loop’.

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Even more important than the story is the gameplay mechanics of a time-loop-centric video game. This mainly comes from the fact that the developers of these games ask questions such as “what about the structure of this game that would encourage players to become familiar with it to the point of becoming experts?” In the case of Death loop, it is for survival, gameplay benefits for the player and story completion. Death loopFPS gameplay and escalating threats lead to a need for better weapons. However, each day results in an inventory reset, unless certain upgrades are collected, which allows you to collect a certain amount of inventory with you each time the time loop resets. It is in such game mechanics that the concept of the time loop in video games stands out most.

In the case of other recent time loop games Return and 12 minutes, the objectives are more or less the same as Death loop, but they are approached differently. Return highlights a wide variety of enemies with changing behaviors depending on the time loop you find yourself in. Compared to the variety of enemies in Death loop back has an entirely different approach to putting obstacles in your way to keep you from breaking the loop. An even more important stretch in the obstacle difference is the limited time given to the player in 12 minutes. Players are given carte blanche in an apartment to combine objects scattered throughout the area in each loop to achieve different results. Time loop games all have more or less the same goal, but how each game decides to get there depends not only on the game, but also to some extent on how the player decides to approach it.

The need to bring particular items with you to achieve different variations of success in the same scenarios makes something as standard as an FPS to have a new and exciting flair. Deciding which weapons work and which don’t work another part of the same part of the day you were in is what games are like Death loop encourages. Familiarity can breed contempt in other games, but those that incorporate time loops breed an entirely different dedication on the part of the player to learning the game and the gameplay thoroughly. back third person shooter game is very different from Death loop. It requires less precision, but it is also quite more punitive than Death loop.

Returnal’s gameplay and time loop system is based on long periods of “runs” that have no manual save option other than putting the PS5 into rest mode. Therefore, any failure on one of your “runs” leads to huge loss of progress and the restart of a time loop. Time-looped video games have the potential to be as rewarding and punishing as Return or as relaxed and encouraging of exploration as Death loop.

A screenshot of Deathloop

Image via Bethesda Softworks

The map design is still built in, but it’s especially important when it comes to games that have a time loop. When players cross the same area several times, the location should be interesting. In a game like 12 minutes, moving the player to the same apartment over and over again can seem repetitive and boring. However, the place is sure to be filled with an intricate environmental design and different puzzles to be solved with each rehearsal of the storyline. This is also true for Death loop, whose 1960s-inspired environmental design and BlackReef’s creative architectural structure lend themselves to constant exploration. Even detours that are not there in one part of the day could be there in another section.

back the backdrop of the planet Atropos is also central to the concept of the time loop. The procedural generation of rooms created on the decrepit mechanical planet keeps players on their toes, away from BlackReef’s design in Death loop. Each area of ​​the planet Atropos feels distinct from each other, to give players a sense of where they are in the loop. It is similar to Death Loop ‘s distinctions between different times of the day. Either way, time loop video games know how to make each location unique in order to help the player solve their problems and progress through the endless cycle.

Time loops in video games, if any, are a product of the repetitive nature of previous games. Taking that repetition and using it as a device to implement new puzzles, and asking players to approach the way they play the game in a more creative way, that’s what time loops are. While the word “repetitive” is something used to describe a negative aspect of a game, the video game time loop is one that uses such a thing to its advantage.

Death loop and Return are just the start if gamers continue to positively receive the concept of these games as well as they did. Add to that some indies experimenting with time-looped games like 12 minutes to create new and interesting puzzle games while being able to reuse the same assets, and you have a new genre of video game in full swing. Something akin to the rise of battle royale games in recent years, time-loop video gaming has real potential to overtake other gadgets and selling points in recent years to create a video game genre. truly creative, immersive and innovative that shows what the medium has to offer.

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