The time loop in video games: from Majora’s Mask to Outer Wilds

The time loop in video games: from Majora’s Mask to Outer Wilds
The time loop in video games: from Majora’s Mask to Outer Wilds

Deathloop has finally arrived: the latest effort from Arkane Studios for PC and PS5 features a particular mechanic linked to the time loop that forces the protagonist to continually relive his mission. A definitely original gameplay idea, which is interesting in light of the team’s well-known skills in managing level design. However, the expedient of the time loop is not new in video games: aside from its use as a purely narrative element, the “loop” is the basis on which the gameplay of some titles has been built, which have often proposed intricate puzzles whose solution requires reliving certain events over and over.

Here are the best video games that have exploited the time loop within their game mechanics.

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has also arrived in remake form on 3DS

Let’s start with what is perhaps the most classic of the loops in the history of the video game. And let’s remove the maybe. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a timeless masterpiece also thanks to the gameplay intuition that allows Link to go back 3 days, to avoid the catastrophic impact of the moon on the village of Termina. Through this journey through time, a real time loop is formed, within which it is possible to influence the course of events. This is how we learn about the rhythm of the village and the habits of its inhabitants, trying and trying to approach situations at the right time or intervening directly to change the chain of events.

Perhaps also due to its nature as a sequel to the immortal Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask is still regarded today as one of the most controversial titles in the series. Despite the rather lukewarm reception of the time, we absolutely recommend that you give one of the most interesting chapters of The Legend of Zelda a chance.

Outer Wilds

The Outer Wilds loop lasts 22 minutes

22 minutes is the length of the loop that players have learned about playing Outer Wilds. The 2019 game is one of the most popular titles in the entire catalog (entire publication) Annapurna, which has managed to decline space exploration by abandoning the infinite procedural universes and focusing on a single solar system carefully hand-built by the developers. To this formula are added some spatial mysteries, which must be explored by exploiting the knowledge accumulated between one loop and another. We don’t want to go further in telling you what you might encounter within the title, but we recommend that you try to solve this intricate spatial puzzle by experiencing your loops firsthand.

And it is also worth remembering that the first expansion of Outer Wilds, Echoes of the Eye, was presented just a few days ago, and is coming very soon, on September 28th.


Minit is a Zelda-like with a 60 second loop

The independent market has often exploited the time loop in a creative way, building a gameplay that could deviate from the classic conventional tracks.

This is the case with Minit: an independent Zelda-like that will keep you glued to the screen minute by minute. Literally. Because the duration of the time loop will be exactly 60 seconds, at the end of which our protagonist will wake up at the starting point.

Do not be fooled by the short duration of the runs: the title can be hectic, but several checkpoints help to mark its progression and with each awakening we will almost always have learned something new to get to break the curse that limits us to live 60 seconds at a time.

The Sexy Brutale

The Sexy Brutale is an inspiring and never banal thriller

Mysterious murders, a mansion and a casino. Add a mysterious clock that allows you to start the day again, and here is The Sexy Brutale: An inverted thriller, in which a time loop allows us not only to discover the identity of the culprit and the dynamics of the crime, but even to try to save the victims.

Tequila Works guys paint the puzzle genre yellow, creating a title that manages to be stimulating and never banal, despite all the gameplay taking place within a single day. The player can obviously influence the events and often this means creating a domino effect that can lead to unexpected consequences. Furthermore, marking the time within the loop is particularly intuitive thanks to the excellent work done on the audio, which allows us to keep track of the most important events by listening to the shot of a rifle, the breaking of a glass or the striking of a bell.


Elsinore is a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that puts us in the role of the character of Ophelia

In 2019 Elsinore makes its appearance, a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that puts us in the role of the character of Ophelia. The game is a pretty classic point and click, were it not for the many dialogue options and the ability to influence and modify the events leading up to the tragic ending. Here too, of course, through a time loop.

Ophelia will go back in time at the end of the vicenda and will have a handful of days to move inside the castle of Elsinore, talk to its inhabitants, in an attempt to manipulate the events that lead to the tragic epilogue. Through the knowledge acquired during the various loops it is therefore possible to reach as many as 13 different endings, which will deviate heavily from the classic and Sheakspearian one.

But now it’s your turn: let us know if you also know of other games that take advantage of the time loop within their gameplay.

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