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What Deathloop Gets Right And Wrong About Time Loops

Arkane Studios' shooter takes a new stab at an old trope

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The Splitscreen podcast logo next to Deathloop's protagonists Colt and Julianna.
Image: Bethesda / Kotaku

Deathloop is the latest game to play around with time but it’s far from the only one. This summer’s divisive indie game 12 Minutes also centered around a repeating time loop, as have many other games, ranging from the star-charting Outer Wilds to the Nintendo 64 classic The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. But which one did it best?

On this week’s episode of Splitscreen we break down what we loved and hated about Arkane Studios’ new big-budget, immersive-sim shooter, as well as the many other genre-defining games it pulls from, like Dark Souls and Destiny 2. Deathloop’s time mechanic doesn’t quite work the way I would have wanted it to (more on why over in my review), but it sure offers a lot to talk about, like whether the game is actually a roguelite-like, and why time loop mechanics seemed to be hardcoded into the try, die, and try again format of most games.


We also go a little farther afield and talk about some of our favorite uses of time loop mechanics in other media like film, books, and manga. Sometimes it’s used to plumb the depths of the human condition (Groundhog Day and Palm Springs) and other times to set up cool action sequences and weird sci-fi hijinks (Steins;Gate and Kill la Kill). Is tedious drudgery a necessary byproduct of games that have you play through the same levels, maps, and encounters, or is there a way to convey a sense of mastery bred by repetition that doesn’t feel like a grind? We discuss this and more.


Senior reporter and Kotaku elder Mike Fahey is still in the final stages of recovering from a recent bout of covid-19 (send him all your love and good vibes please!) so newly minted staff writer Renata Price was kind of enough to fill in and offer some interesting takes on how Deathloop changes up the traditional Arkane formula.

Remember that new episodes come out every Friday, so like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher to get them as soon as they go live. You can leave a review, too, or drop us a line at if you have questions or want to suggest a topic. Or if you want to deliver your hottakes in realtime you can reach us on Twitter: I’m @ethangach, Lisa Marie is @lisamarie_lynn, and Renata is @RenOrRaven. Catch you next week!