A good magic trick makes the impossible seem possible and inspires a child-like sense of wonder. Watch any magician dazzle an audience with a sleight of hand, misdirection, or optical illusion and you’ll see even the most stoic of people wearing an expression of astonishment. It’s a unique kind of joy that is almost always followed by a desperate need to figure out the trick. “How?” onlookers will ask, trying to make sense of it.
For years now, developer Arkane Studios has been pulling off some of the most impressive magic tricks around. Through the Dishonored series and Prey, it has delivered worlds that are stunning and intricately designed, and that–most importantly–present the player with seemingly endless possibilities. This is all on top of stunning art direction, memorable characters, and compelling stories.
Arkane’s games feel like impossible creations, each one a complex set of interlocking systems and mechanics that present a dynamic space where players are invited to poke and prod at their clockwork nature and watch as it reacts without falling apart. As an immersive sim and an action game, Deathloop is yet another impressive effort from Arkane in this respect. But what elevates it and makes it GameSpot’s Game of the Year for 2021 is that it gives us all what we want most after being wowed by a magic trick: a peek behind the curtain.