I admit it: I save scum in stealth games. From the original Deus Ex all the way through to Dishonored 2, I'm the kinda guy who quicksaves before every enemy encounter, and tries a dozen different ways to subdue, kill, or avoid them until one is absolutely perfect. I won't apologise for playing this way, because I enjoy it. It's also a great way to experiment with a game's systems—especially immersive sims. But there's always a background hum of guilt, and I sometimes feel like I'm ruining the natural flow of a game by seeing a loading screen every other minute. So thank god for Deathloop—the latest stealth game from genre master Arkane—which does away with manual saves altogether, and has finally shaken me out of my comfort zone. In this game, I have to live with my mistakes—at least until the next loop.

In Deathloop you're trapped in a time loop. When you die, you wake up on a beach at the start of the day and have to start the cycle all over again. This setup is the reason you can't manually save, because it would cheapen the entire premise of the game. If you could reload a save whenever you fancied, dying wouldn't mean much. It isn't completely unforgiving, though. An ability called Reprise lets you die twice without being hurled back to the beginning of the loop, which gives you a little room for trial and error. You can also earn those Reprises back if you manage to kill Julianna, a player-controlled character who can invade your game at certain times. However, Reprise doesn't completely reset the world in the same way reloading a quicksave does, so it doesn't give you quite the same advantage.

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As a committed save scummer, it's a difficult adjustment at first. When I'm sneaking around a group of enemies and one spots me, my instinct is to immediately quickload and take a different approach. An in-game tutorial notes that the Eternalists—Deathloop's masked enemies—have short attention spans, which means they won't hunt you forever if you get spotted. This gives you the opportunity to break away from conflict, regroup, and try something else. Other stealth games are designed this way, but sometimes the enemies are so dogged and relentless in their pursuit, it's easier just to reload. It's also hard to shake the feeling that you've somehow failed if you slip up. Deathloop's booze-swigging, easily distracted goons, on the other hand, make mistakes feel like a lot less of a big deal—and eventually I didn't miss the lack of an option to manually save or quicksave whatsoever.

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For players less hopelessly reliant on quicksaving, the fact Deathloop doesn't let you won't seem like that much of a game changer. But as a player who, in most stealth games, simply can't live with mistakes, it's a revelation. By forcing me to suck it up and move forward, instead of wondering if I could have dealt with that guard just a little more cleanly, I've completely reassessed my approach to stealth games. There's a real thrill in being sloppy, screwing something up, then having to improvise and clean up your own mess. I went back to Dishonored 2, a game I normally play in two-minute increments, and resisted the urge to quicksave—and the experience felt much more organic, challenging, and rewarding as a result. So thank you, Deathloop, for helping me kick a decades-old habit. I'll probably relapse, but for now, I'm embracing the chaos and taking things as they come.

Next: Everyone's Talking About Deathloop's System Shock Reference

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