10 games based on time loops whose mechanics he borrowed


Arkane studios Death loop is one of the biggest and most anticipated AAA titles to be released in 2021. It’s an ambitious cycle of trapping players in a must-see, fully open death loop, it’s daring to say the least. The fact that it’s replayable and hardly a boring adventure says a lot more about its overall quality. However, Death loop is far from the first title to truly explore the time loop in video games.

RELATED: 10 Ways Deathloop Is Arkane Studios’ Best Game Yet

A time loop, for those who don’t know, is when a protagonist gets stuck in a series of events. To escape, they must meet a condition. In Death loop, the protagonist must kill the eight targets scattered in the game. However, the task is not so simple in others. It’s an increasingly common trope in games and other media, but it has proliferated in the gaming industry for longer than expected.


9 The Specter Files: Deathstalker Unreleased For Decades (1984)

an image showing the main villain in Deathstalker

The Specter files: Deathstalker has an extremely complex backstory on its creation. In short, the game was originally developed in 1984 but was not released until around 2017. If players are lucky, they might find one of the machines hidden in their local arcade. The game employs players as a detective investigating the disappearance of a girl in a mysterious mansion.

Inside said mansion, players will find every ghoulish and vile devil imaginable in a campy B-movie adventure. However, death is inevitable. For another dollar, players are encouraged to revisit the paths and use their previous knowledge to help them go further each time.

8 Explore Death on Another Planet in Another World (1991)

Cover art for another world

This classic sci-fi adventure puts players in the shoes of Lester, a young scientist trapped on an alien planet after a failed experiment. The game uses a trial and error system. Each time the player fails, they are thrown back slightly and are asked to try different outcomes, which eventually allows them to progress through the story.

RELATED: 10 Things ‘Modern Retro’ Games Get Wrong About The Times They Emulate

While the Time Loop is not a strict mechanic at this point, players can see the start of what would be the hallmarks of the Time Loop game: trial and error, repeated scenes and actions, and experimentation.

7 Help five humans search for an escape in I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (1996)

the main characters of i have no mouth and i have to scream trapped in cages

This terrifying Point and Click sci-fi adventure allows players to explore the psychological torments of five characters trapped in purgatory torture by a computer known only as AM. The computer traps the five tortured souls in repeated nightmares of their own psychological and interpersonal failures. Escape seems impossible for these lost souls … or is it?

Players, using careful decision making (and sometimes muddled ’90s logic), are encouraged to try again and again to find the solution for the survival of these characters and their release from the eternal torture they face.

6 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask Presents One of the Most Intense Time Loops (2000)

Majora's Mask Moon looks down on Skull Kid

The Legend of Zelda: The Mask of Majora was one of the earliest examples of the time loop becoming an explicit plot point in a video game. In this entry in the long series, Link has three days to save the town of Termina from a creepy giant moon about to crush the planet. If he runs out of time, Link is forced to use his Ocarina to go back in time and continue his adventure.

Failure to do so will result in the player losing any progress in that three day cycle. It was an incredibly new idea from Nintendo to come up with an entire game revolving around these mechanics, an idea that many studios would follow later.

5 Players will ask “How many times can these children kill each other?” After playing Higurashi: When they cry (2002-2014)

a screenshot of the visual novel with two of the main character sprites

Higurashi: when they cry is known as both a visual novel and an anime, and for good reason at that. He follows a group of innocent teenagers who are immersed in a disturbing mystery as they explore the dark secrets of their small town. At the end of each novel, they usually end up killing each other.

RELATED: Deathloop: 5 Ways It’s Better Than Dishonored (& 5 Ways It’s Worse)

This series of visual novels leads to a larger story. The story is divided into “novels” or “arcs” of questions and answers. With each iteration, minor events change, causing a cascading effect throughout the rest of the story. It turns out that the characters are trapped in a violent time loop, which none of them remember from arc to arc.

4 Stanley’s Parable is not afraid to make fun of the players (2013)

Stanley’s parable is a game that isn’t afraid to make fun of player choice. In the game, players take on the role of Stanley as he follows (or not) the omniscient narrator telling him what to do. No matter the choice, it often leads to Stanley’s death in one form or another. When the player feels defiant about breaking the game themselves, there always seems to be that narrator mocking and following the player.

There is no escape from this absurd and subordinate loop, asking gamers the question: make whatever choices you make in life. really question? One choice is sure: it’s a game worth replaying before the remake.

3 Minit Explores an Incredibly Small Time Loop (2018)

a turtle character who says hello from minit

Easily the shortest time loop on this list, Minit only gives players, as expected, only a minute at a time to break the curse that traps the main character. In a minute, the player will die and start the day again. To help with this, players talk to NPCs and other characters for advice and even new starting locations to slowly but steadily expand their map and break the curse.

This extreme time constraint may seem like a nightmare, but the game’s ingenious design of Minit gives a feeling of freshness with a constant need for “just one more minute” on the part of the players.

2 Explore Alternate Versions of Hamlet in Elsinore (2019)

ophelia common in the courtyards

Have you ever wondered if things in Hamlet could have gone differently? Maybe no one needed to die? Was there a way out? In this independent point-and-click adventure, players take on the role of Ophelia as she is trapped in a four-day time loop trying to figure out how to stop the events of the play from unfolding.

RELATED: Deathloop: The Visionaries Nine Voice Cast (& What Else They Been In)

Does she confront Hamlet with her visions of death? Who can she trust? How can she show that the Queen played no part in the death of Hamlet’s murder? And how does she do it all in four days? It’s the player’s job to wade through the possibilities and prevent one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest endings.

1 On the brink of the Solar System Explosion in the Wilds (2019)

wild outdoors

With only around 40 minutes left before an entire solar system collapses, players explore multiple collapsing planets to uncover their mystery before their inevitable destruction in order to hopefully escape the time loop in which they find themselves. Outdoor savages is a beautifully designed and masterful gaming experience, having won numerous awards for its stunning graphics and environments.

In each game, players explore different areas of the solar system as they watch the world crumble around them. Once, players can see a vanishing planet, and another time, they will miss it altogether. Each race fills more and more mysteries surrounding this dying universe and whether the player can do anything to stop it.

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