Posted on August 7, 2012 AT 12:55pm
As the summer quickly comes to an end so does the Summer of Arcade titles. Deadlight is one of the last ones for this year’s summer arcade hits so it has a good bit to make up for if it wants to leave a lasting memory. Deadlight is being vastly compared to arcade titles like Limbo and rightfully so since it’s pretty much an “adult version” of Limbo, but does it give the same impression though?
In Deadlight, you play as devoted father and loving husband, Randall Wayne. Set in the backdrop of a 1980’s “Sin City-esque” Seattle, Randall is searching for his wife and daughter in what he believes to be a “safe zone”. We all know there are no safe zones in zombie games or movies, but even as over-used as the zombie concept is, Deadlight does deliver in most unique aspects.
I can’t tell you too much about the story of Deadlight for fear of ruining it but I’m sure as you play through it that you’ll see the story takes bits and pieces from other zombies games and movies. Zombies, referred to as “Shadows” in Deadlight, are crawling everywhere. What was first thought to be rabies slowly turned into the inevitable “kill by dismembering the brain from the body” type zombie so Randall told his family to head into the safe zone of Seattle and he’ll catch up with them later. As Randall traverses through levels, he will meet some people and Tequila Works does a great job showing how personality and common thought deteriorate when the world is devoured by catastrophe.
Once the game starts, gamers are dropped right into the action of maneuvering Randall through breakable doors and jumping onto ledges to get away from the Shadows. Deadlight is a 2D side-scroller so don’t worry about getting lost at all. Randall doesn’t have many moves at his disposal besides wall jumping, climbing, busting through obstacles, and rolling around to avoid danger. There is a little bit of combat but players are going to use the environment and the moves I just listed rather than relying mostly on the limited arsenal of guns. To make sure that players don’t use guns, ammo will be scarce.
Combat, for me, was the most aggravating part of the game. It seems like if the Shadows touch you then you lose damage so it’s in your best interest to just avoid them, be it attempting to jump over them, push them down, or outrun them. When I came into contact with the Shadows, it felt like some were more resilient than others. I could do a couple blows to one and they’d go down without a second thought and others I had to hack at several times before they went down so I could deliver the final blow. When you do get your hands on a firearm, it seems to attract unwanted attention from more Shadows rather than getting you out of a rather difficult and sticky situation. Come Act 3, gamers should be well versed in using weapons and navigating through the endless amount of Shadows that Deadlight gets significantly harder and more of a “I wish I could throw this downloadable game into a Christmas tree and set it on fire” type game. The Shadows come at you in astounding numbers and as I mentioned before, even a touch from them seems to deplete Randall’s health. If Randall gets swarmed by them then he immediately goes down and you have to pick up from a check point.
What makes the combat worse is that at the beginning of every Act, Randall’s weapons are taken from him. Act 2 isn’t all that bad without weapons since Tequila Works seemed to have forgotten about the Shadows in the first half of Act 2 and Randall is just learning how to traverse through the environment and learning about The Rat and his son.
Deadlight’s weakest point is also its strongest point. By Act 3, Randall should have no problem facing the hordes of Shadows and the difficult terrain that is post-apocalyptic Seattle. When excessive hordes are coming after you then gamers must be quick thinking, enjoy getting frustrated, and be able to precisely get to places to jump so you don’t get mauled by the Shadows. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air when most games seem so easy nowadays, but you have games like Limbo, Spelunky, and now, Deadlight to make gamers think and pay attention to what they’re doing. Unfortunately during Act 2 and Act 3, things get so hard that sometimes players have to first fail at something to understand what’s going on and a lot of puzzles rely heavily on trial and error.
Another drawback in the game is the clumsy narration. A lot of the lines are ruined by the voice actors and which makes the lines seem out of place. Randall’s voice acting was terrible for the most part. The best one was The Rat. Tequila Works knocked that one on the head. As I said before, the story takes bits and pieces from other zombie works and incorporates them into this story. There is some 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, and a tad bit Alan Wake.
Even with the combat and narrative wrong doings, Deadlight shines when delivering the game from a graphic standpoint. The “Sin City-esque” backdrop does wonders when seeing characters in the foreground and even in the background. The background holds broken vehicles and a destroyed cityscape, sewers that stretch on in their darkness, and offices and houses. Littering the background many times are Shadows that will actually proceed to come to the forefront and chase down Randall, so things happening in the background should not be ignored. The Shadows themselves are just that; they appear as darkened humans with glowing red eyes.
Deadlight will last gamers about four to five hours after dying and going through all the trial and error parts. So for $15, this isn’t too bad. During the summer, gamers have a “gaming drought” so if you’re bored and need something that is challenging to play then consider Deadlight. Even if you die a lot, which you will, the check points are very lenient so you won’t get too far behind. If you’re a masochist and you like games to look moody, but beautiful at the same time then Deadlight is for you.
The Good: Graphics
The Bad: Combat, ammo scarcity, too many trial and error points
The Ugly: Narration, taking my weapons away, voice acting
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