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REVIEW | “Deadlight” Grows Dim Towards The End

Posted on August 13, 2012 AT 10:29am

The concept of Tequila Works’ Deadlight seemed like a great idea. Take the gameplay elements of the critically-acclaimed Shadow Complex, toss in an undead scenario during an alternate timeline, and add some cool puzzles to it. It’s a shame, though, that it runs out of steam towards the end.

Taking place in the year 1986, Randall Wayne and a group of friendly survivors are in desperate need to get out of a decimated Seattle. There is word that safe haven can be found outside the town, so the group decides to head on out of there. Unfortunately Randall finds himself separated from everyone else, leaving him to fend for himself against the “Shadows” (their term for the zombies) and alone in his quest to find his wife and daughter.

Unlike most games involving the undead Deadlight has more focus on running away from zombies than killing them. You are given minimum bullets for your guns (but infinite slingshot ammo), which must be saved in case you find yourself cornered by an army of the Shadows. There is an axe weapon that you can use, too, but if you keep on swinging for too long your stamina decreases, making it difficult to fight for too long. It takes just two giant swipes to kill off a shadow, but the more powerful the swing the more stamina you’ll use, so keep with minor swipes if you’re stuck in a room filled with zombies.

When you need to run (and trust me: you will) holding down the R-button will pick up your speed. Again, stamina will be used in this case, so be sure to pace yourself between running and running really fast. There will be some long jumps, as well, which the R-button will come in handy in those cases. The one thing I found weird about Randall is that he cannot swim, so if you fall in water you drown right then and there. What’s also strange about this scenario is that he’ll drown even if the water doesn’t submerge his entire head.

Throughout the levels you’ll find yourself faced with puzzles based around the environments you are in. Sometimes you’ll find yourself having to jump from place-to-place and throwing a switch to solve a puzzle, whereas other times you’ll have to find a part of the environment  that needs to be unhinged from a high place in order to move on. Sometimes these puzzles come off easily, whereas other times you’ll be wracking your brain for many minutes before the solution jumps out right in front of you.

Puzzles will become a lot tougher when the Shadows are in the same room with you. For the most part all you have to do to take them down. However there will be a few areas (especially near the end of the game) where the zombies come out in infinite numbers, so you’ll find yourself running around the undead as you try to solve the conundrum you’re faced in the room. Sometimes it’s a good challenge, but other times you’ll find yourself screaming more at your TV because of what Deadlight has thrown at you.

This brings me to the first fault of Deadlight: there is no way to drop (or raise) the game’s difficulty, so if you find yourself stuck in a spot for many a minute, then you’ll be forced to try every single trick in the book before you realize the solution was right in front of you the whole time. (Believe me: that happened more often than not.) During The Rat levels you’ll be forced to get yourself out of some trap areas that are more frustrating than fun to figure out. Sometimes you can grab the attention of Shadows to see what happens when walking through a trap, but other times you’re on your own in these scenarios.

During my play-through I couldn’t help but notice that the controls didn’t respond the way I needed them to in dire situations. Many a time I tried to swing my axe or fire my gun at a Shadow, but for some reason it didn’t work. Even if I had a couple seconds to aim and fire my weapon it just seemed like the game did not want to follow my commands, leading me to die and having to start again from the last checkpoint. I was in one room of a game for almost half an hour because the controls didn’t work, leaving me to die over and over again until I had to practically button-mash myself out of the situation.

The backstory of what happened before the Shadows came will be revealed in flashbacks areas, nightmares, and even objects you find on the ground. You’ll find out more and more about your friends, family, and complete strangers (some of them real-life killers during the game’s setting) during the runtime. However the truth may leave a more bitter taste in your mouth than a feeling of satisfaction. How the game ends feels more like a copout than a clever way to tie all loose ends, and with a runtime of five hours your first go-around the 1200 MSP price doesn’t really seem worth it. (It can apparently be beaten in three hours, making the price a bigger slap in the face.)


  • Cool puzzles to solve
  • Nice comic book-like appearance
  • A somewhat refreshing take on zombie games


  • Ends too abruptly
  • Some puzzles lean towards more frustrating than challenging
  • Controls sometimes don’t respond quickly enough


Deadlight could’ve been a much better game if it had a more fleshed-out story, a control scheme that wasn’t frustrating, and a longer play time. It starts off promising enough, but the wonder of it all screeches to a halt during its second half. Tequila Works looks to be a very promising development company, but a title like Deadlight is not them bringing their A-game to the table.

FINAL GRADE: 6.2 (out of ten)

Review copy provided by Shirley Kim

An accomplished music, anime, and video game critic, Evan Bourgault has been a Contributing Editor and Podcast host with ElectricSistaHood since 2008. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck

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