There I was, creeping along a cliff on the outside of a big castle-like structure when I saw a single enemy, completely alone. He was standing on the edge of the cliff with his back to me. This setup ranked high on my “kickable moment meter,” a situation which routinely leads to disappointment. How often have games given me an enemy just crying out to be kicked off a high precipice, only to deny me the tools to fulfill my kick-powered fantasies? Thankfully, Deathloop makes no such mistake. It let me walk up to that guy and kick him flying off the edge, complete with a fading scream as he fell into the water far below.
Deathloop is a first-person action-adventure game that didn’t click with me right away. It took a few hours of playing around with its various systems and features before I found my groove. But even as I struggled to wrap my head around Deathloop, its “kick button” was always there for me. Unlike so many other things in this game, the kick is a part of your toolset right out of the gate. And it’s wonderful. Colt’s big boot sends kicked people flying, complete with a bit of spin as the body of his victim shoots up and into the air. Often, as they arc into the great unknown, they wiggle their arms a little. Perhaps they’re trying to fly away?
Across Twitter and YouTube, you’ll find loads of clips of people booting unsuspecting enemies off cliffs or towers. And sure, the kick in Arkane’s latest immersive sim is great for doing stuff like that, but it has other uses too! For example, it can help in combat. I’ve used it to knock back an enemy during a fight, stunning them in the process. And you can kick stuff like boards or vents to break open new paths. You can even kick electrical boxes to shut off powered doors or generators. This will shock Colt, but kicking stuff is worth a bit of pain.
The kick in Deathloop feels so perfectly suited to the game that it’s hard to imagine a version of this game without it, yet early on Deathloop didn’t have a dedicated kick button. Instead, as explained by Arkane game director Dinga Bakaba, originally Deathloop featured a Dishonored-like parry system. However, this didn’t work great in multiplayer invasions as the host player had too big of an advantage. And when the team added in a simple block, it made PvP fights boring, while also being useless against most of the game’s gun-toting enemies.
“So we said ‘hey, fuck defense,’” said Bakaba in a tweet thread about the kick. “‘Let’s replace it [with] a boot kick in the gut, that will interrupt a machete attack, it can shove firearms wielding enemies when out of ammo, it’s not as timing reliant.’”
After deciding to add a kick, the team spent two years tweaking and improving it, slowly making it more powerful and fun to use. The end result is one of the best kicks I’ve seen in a video game, so bravo to the team at Arkane.
It places Deathloop squarely in the pantheon of video games with good kickin’, which includes stuff like Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Dying Light, and Duke Nukem. Maybe more game devs will see how satisfying it is to kick stuff and start adding powerful kicks to future releases. Come on Microsoft, let the Master Chief boot some foes with his giant green shoes in Halo Infinite!