• December 7, 2021

The ’60s-Inspired Island in ‘Deathloop’ Is Worth a Closer Look

“It’s like in the movie The Thing: Events take place far away from the rest of the world, and you’re only focused on what’s going on there,” Mitton says. “We wanted to set things in a place where no one would want to go on vacation, and then build our science fiction and narrative on top of that.”

The Color of Architecture

In terms of architecture, Deathloop builds off what Arkane began with Dishonored. “Our goal with Dunwall was to make it very cold and dark,” Mitton says. “With Deathloop, we wanted to contrast that with the ’60s and with color. Color started going on the walls, the interiors, the island’s NPCs. It kind of shows their internal lives; they want to live an eternal life and have this eternal party.

“Every day is going to be a party, you can kill people or die, and it doesn’t matter. Everything is very lighthearted, and we wanted that to be obvious. So we painted entire buildings, a bit like some of the pubs you see in England, which can be quite graphic. There’s also the film High Plains Drifter, with Clint Eastwood. There’s a scene where he comes to protect a village, and everything in the village is painted red, right in the middle of the desert. It’s really beautiful, and we thought, well let’s keep going on like that!”

Deathloop does a fantastic job of adding splashes of ’60s kitsch and psychedelia to the island’s largely monochrome architecture and craggy cliffsides. It’s a dramatic contrast, with flashy arcade machines and multicolored candy dispensers brightening the interiors of cold and gray stone buildings.

Courtesy of Arkane

“We also looked at catalogs for ready-made houses in the US, and they had all these weird shapes from the ’60s,” Mitton says. “You also had plastic, so we could build all these kinds of waves, contrasting with what we did in Dishonored where everything was very square and solid. Deathloop is a lot more fluid, with all the lights and carpets.”

The Bermuda Triangle Meets Chernobyl

The team was also interested in giving the Isle of Blackreef a sense of authentic history. On top of an alternate sci-fi ’60s, they added military structures from the ’30s and ’40s. “We have this fake timeline on the island to try and give it more of a soul. Imagine something like the Bermuda Triangle meets Chernobyl. Something happened in the past, and everythingpublished here
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suddenly stopped. And then at the beginning of the ’60s, the Visionaries turn up and start looking around all these older structures, and then they figure out how to make this time loop.”

“We looked at what NASA did with its astronauts,” Mitton continues. “They went around the world to extreme locations to simulate landing on the moon. When we look at the photos, you can really see the contrast between the environment and the people there with all their equipment and machinery. It really looks like science fiction, and it has a very ’60s grain to it.”

“Another great reference we used, because it had elements of the ’60s, was the TV series Lost,” Mitton says. “It’s on an island, there’s a bunker that’s like a time capsule, and there’s a lot of ambiguity with the narrative—are they dreaming, dead, stuck in time? So we made our own time capsule. What if in the ’60s they had solved the Bermuda Triangle? What would happen then?”

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