All games – even those that rely on planned structures – have a bit of structure, at least subconsciously. This is because every game has some core rules. These can be thought of as the raw materials of the game. They are the foundation upon which your experience will be built. These can be thought of as a kind of superstructure to the game. It is important to understand that games are a combination of the two.
Deathloop’s structure isn’t a strict linear narrative. It’s more freeform, but follows a linear narrative. The deathloop narrative is structured so that the player’s emotional journey is in a constant state of freefall. This is the goal of the game, in a way.
Undertale is a game about a young human boy who falls into the Underground, a world inhabited by monsters that have broken free from their cage. It is a game about choice, friendship, and death; a game about being human. It is a game where the protagonist must defeat his enemies in order to progress. It is a game about exploring a strange world, meeting new friends, and ultimately, about discovering something deep: the story of Undertale.
Deathloop is a unique beast in Arkane Studios’ repertoire since it sets its action inside the confines of a recurring time loop in which players progressively advance utilizing the information gained from each death. Furthermore, it has a more freeform structure.
Its gameplay style eschews the conventional objectives of games like Dishonored, which frequently featured whole areas designed around Corvo and Emily’s duties to accomplish. According to a recent Discord AMA session, players in Deathloop will be able to select how and when they tackle primary and side goals.
“The problem is, we don’t really have missions like we had in our previous games, where one level is devoted to a task,” explained Lead Level Designer Yoann Saquet in response to a fan who inquired about the duration of missions in Deathloop.
“The main’missions’ will need you to explore various locations in various districts, moving from one map to the next, and while doing so, you may wish to engage in some side content or complete a section of another’mission.’”
Another response elucidates the game’s structure and what distinguishes it from Arkane’s previous attempts. In order to hunt down and eliminate their targets, players may visit each of Blackreef’s four districts during four distinct time periods.
“The Visionaries are dispersed throughout these four regions and periods,” Campaign Designer Dana Nightingale said, “making each of them susceptible at one point and time of the day.”
“You are free to visit any area you choose at any time of day.” You may pursue your interests or concentrate on mastering one place or one Visionary. You may follow a lead, for example, trying to figure out how to murder Frank when there’s clearly not enough time in the day to do it. It’s possible that this will lead you all across the game world, with one hint leading to the next.
Of course, you might choose to go after a different Visionary first, or hear stories of an unique weapon buried someplace on the island, which would lead you on a new quest and perhaps reward you with a tool you can use later.
“You’re actually creating your own campaign,” Nightingale said, “tackling each element of the mystery in the sequence you’re most interested in, or disregarding it entirely and becoming lost in the loop.”
“‘This Visionary has a slab that I want, therefore I need to go grab it,’ is sometimes a’mission.’ ‘The next clue in my lead is in a hazardous location, but I can simply get through with the proper tools, but where do I locate them?’ Three loops ago, I believe I spotted a pistol with a perk that is helpful here in a safe. But, in order to unlock that safe, I’ll need… ‘ ‘I want to fight Julianna, so let’s go to Aleksis’ party and see if she invades me,’ it says sometimes.”
This makes Deathloop seem like a step forward in terms of the flexibility with which you may approach your objective, and also feeds into the learning element of the game, which is fundamental to overcoming its time loop. We won’t have to wait long to see how it works, however, since the game is scheduled to release on PC and PS5 on September 14, after being postponed a couple times.
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