Time loops are, in all honesty, some of the most underutilized features in gaming, and the fact that only a handful of modern games have explored such unchartered waters does mean that there's a gap in the market. That said, the developers that have willingly traipsed the subject have often gone on to craft genuinely inviting titles. Unfortunately, though, there just aren't that many to speak of.
Anyway, if by chance you're looking to hurl yourself into an infinite loop that's chock-full of mysteries, then you're in luck. As it stands, these are, without a doubt, the greatest and most time-consuming games on the current market that'll have you rewinding time like clockwork.
DEATHLOOP strikes a perfect balance between being a top-shelf first-person shooter, and a deeply immersive and fascinatingly thought-provoking puzzle game. As such, players are invited to relive a single day that revolves around eight targets, and one man's struggle to eliminate them all in a bid to break a time loop that always results in a one-on-one showdown and an unavoidable death.
As Colt, you wake up on a beach, only to discover that you've been there before, and that your only hope of dismantling the loop is by assassinating a series of key players in four dynamic areas. With four time periods to sift through before the clock rewinds, you must learn as much as you can about the world and its curse, and then apply your knowledge to a series of new loops in the hope that it'll make a difference.
DEATHLOOP brings a mixture of semi-open world sandbox survival to a wall-to-wall stealth-based formula. To this end, it's heavy on the bullets and haze, and yet its heart and soul mostly revolves around strategy, intelligence, and players' abilities to retain key information for the sake of furthering the narrative. So, if you're seeking a shoot 'em up that also hosts a tapestry of puzzles, then DEATHLOOP is a definite time killer.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a follow-up to Ocarina of Time, one of Nintendo's all-time favorite poster children of the nineties. Once again, players are invited to enter an ever-evolving open world that centers its story around one boy and his drive to dismantle a community-wide threat. The only major difference here, of course, is a three-day time loop that players must learn to understand if they are to banish said threat.
Majora's Mask puts you in the kingdom of Termina, a place in which a dark and sinister force engulfs the realm in a perpetual three-day limbo. Once again, you fill the boots of Link, as you set out to locate the source of the town's misfortune and put an end to its impending doom. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to reconnect with some of Hyrule's most prominent figures and landmarks — only they're vastly different and far more twisted than you remember them being.
Ocarina of Time it most certainly is not. That said, Majora's Mask is still perhaps one of the greatest games you'll ever throw yourself into. It's evidently rife with heart and vigor, and it pretty much envelopes every single raw quality that The Legend of Zelda has spent years harvesting.
3. Quantum Break
Quantum Break is a hybrid of a third-person action-adventure game, and a feature-length movie in which player choice helps to tailor the narrative. For this, it's beyond worthy of your time, and it serves as not only a glorified bullet fest, but a genuinely compelling and well-orchestrated theatrical masterpiece that any Xbox fan will surely get a kick out of.
In Quantum Break, you take on the role of Jack Joyce, an everyday jack-of-all-trades who's brought into a real-life experiment-gone-wrong situation. As a result, Joyce inherits the power to control time and space, with which he must use to seal a fracture that threatens to freeze the world in its tracks.
Quantum Break is a relatively short but gripping episodic adventure that brings world-class acting to a thought-out narrative that rarely lets up on the theatrics. It's a high-octane journey through and through, and perhaps one of the better games you'll immerse yourself in at some point this year, be it tomorrow, or in three months from now.
2. Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds is an award-winning story-driven walking simulator that bears the seal of approval for employing not only a rich and immersive world, but a fascinating narrative that flawlessly manages to keep you circling back for more. And to think, this is a game that fosters a 22-minute time loop, yet it somehow keeps you entwined for upwards of seventeen hours on end.
Outer Wilds puts you on an alien planet, in which you're tasked with venturing out to unchartered territories as an up-and-coming astronaut. However, when the sun goes supernova after just 22 minutes, you find yourself back at square one, armed only with the knowledge of what you acquired in your previous cycle. Your role in the newly established loop: to halt the sun from engulfing the galaxy in flames.
On the surface, Outer Wilds may look like something of a one-note ordeal, what with the whole game being set around a continuous 22-minute loop. But the fact is, when there's so much to do in so little time, you'll have enough to keep you trucking on for days. Not once does Outer Wilds let up on the brakes, which, alone, makes it an expedition worth embarking on.
1. Twelve Minutes
Twelve Minutes is a heavy-handed top-down adventure that sees you living the same 12-minute cycle over and over again. As a devoted husband tied to the cycle, you must unravel its mystery and figure out a way to stop an imminent knock on the door that results in you and your wife's untimely deaths. The only thing you have to go on? An apartment, strewn with everyday objects, one of which supposedly wields the key to stopping the climax.
Twelve Minutes brings James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe to a well-orchestrated world that bleeds intrigue and wonder. For every loop you find yourself in, there's a new piece of dialogue to uncover or household trinket to analyze. With each passing run, you'll find yourself constructing a portrait, one that requires several coats of paint to fully comprehend.
Let it be said that, if you're planning on playing just a few indies this year, then Twelve Minutes should definitely be one of them. Although relatively short and locked to one scene, you're forever guaranteed a nail-biting journey that provides far more bite than the vast majority of most modern triple-A releases. For that, you should certainly give it the time of day — if only for twelve minutes.
So, what's your take? Are there any time loops that you'd recommend slumping through? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.