This was it. My final run of Deathloop. The run that would lead me to the ending of the game and those glorious 60’s-inspired credits. Everything was going perfectly. I had made my way all over the isle of Blackreef, remaining undetected and took out my targets perfectly. All that was left was to take out the final target and make my escape to the finale undetected. I lined the target up in my sights. So many thoughts were racing through my head: “This was so easy.” “I’m so good at this game.” “Should I try speed running?” “I wonder if I-” BANG. I missed. That’s okay, that’s okay! I can still salvage the run, right? I jumped down, took out the last target, and proceeded to fight with nearly every NPC enemy in the level until I finally made it to the area that would trigger the ending. Did I want to trigger the ending though? My final run was supposed to be flawless and it had turned into a disaster. I could just restart the loop and try again. Just keep the loop going until I got the flawless run I wanted. Wait. Did… Did I just become one of the villains of Deathloop?… they each want life without consequences. They want the highs without the lows.
Before I can answer that question I should explain who the villains already present in Deathloop are. From the opening of the game, the Aeon program and the 8 Visionaries are presented as the antagonizing forces. They are the ones who created the ‘Deathloop,’ each has their reason to keep it going, and they’re the obstacles that Colt, the protagonist, and you, the player must overcome to beat the game. So by that standard I am the villain, right? I wanted to keep the loop going? Well I’m not willing to throw in the towel just yet, let’s take a closer look at these Visionaries.
Each Visionary can be described by one word: Arrogant. They all want to live forever in the loop but they also have their own selfish reasons. For example: Aleksis Dorsey wants to throw/control a raging party that lasts forever where he decides who’s worthy and who’s not, Charlie Montague wants to prove he’s one of the smartest people on the island by designing the best death games and puzzles in the world, and both Fia Zborowska and Frank Spicer use the loop to further their “art” while freely being able to give into their vices. Besides each of these requiring a healthy sense of self on the Visionaries’ parts, they each want life without consequences. They want the highs without the lows. The loop is their get out of jail free card. If something doesn’t go their way, it doesn’t matter because they’ll just reset it all with the loop.
“If something doesn’t go my way…” I guess that does sound like me. I didn’t want my mistakes to be a part of my “final run.” I was so focused on what I wanted to happen that I was going to be just like a visionary and hit the reset button the moment things didn’t go my way—get rid of the evidence that I was anything but flawless.
We like to show others that we’re flawless, but the truth is nobody is. Everyone who appears that way or is really good at something is only that way because of their experiences, their consequences. Everyone makes mistakes but it’s the people that build on top of those mistakes that are able to establish a foundation to make something better. Even my “final run” was built on 8+ hours of failing miserably.
The Visionaries of Deathloop refuse to accept their flaws and as a result they cling desperately to the “loop.” To the idea that they can preserve themselves and never face the consequences of their poor choices, and it works. When we see them in the game they’re doing what they want. They’re living their dreams, but they’re not happy. They’re increasingly paranoid and unsatisfied with everything around them, because even though the loop physically removes their mistakes each day, consequences still remain.
I did end up letting that “botched” run become my “final run.” I went and triggered the final moments of the game even though I didn’t achieve the perfect run I wanted, but what I did achieve was a run that was mine, a run that I could learn from. A memorable moment that I can share with others about how I was so close and had to think on my feet to win.
So did I become a villain just like the Visionaries? At that moment, yes I think I was. I was so wrapped up in my own arrogance of “being good” at the game that I forgot one of the primary purposes of playing games: to learn and overcome obstacles. Our lives are built upon our past experiences, both good and bad, and the moment we try to hide or erase any of them, we prevent ourselves from growing. We get caught up in a loop of our own making where we are always looking back and never forward. My experience with Deathloop challenged me not to let bad experiences and hurt pride become the focus of my life. It is possible to break the loop.