Deadlight Review

Developer(s):

Tequila Works

Publisher(s):

Microsoft Studios

Console(s):

Xbox 360, PC (unknown date)

Release Date:

August 1, 2012

Genre(s):

Sidescroller, survival horror, cinematic platformer

Player(s):

Single

Rating:

M (Blood & Violence)

-Marcus Lawrence

A different approach to the exhausted zombie genre

Games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Island and Dead Rising all have one thing in common. Well besides having the word “Dead” in their titles, they all feature the main protagonist(s) dealing with the undead. Each one in their own right is completely different from the other with the exception of one item: killing zombies is the main focus. To some people, the zombie genre is getting stale because all you do is kill zombies repeatedly among other things. That is where Deadlight comes into play. While it may have zombies (or shadows as they call them) in it, Deadlight doesn’t task you with killing every zombie you come across. Unless you have no choice but to fight, chances are you will be doing a lot of running from the shadows.

Players will assume the role of scruffy Randall Wayne. No, his first name isn’t scruffy but it looks like Mr. Wayne hasn’t shaved for at least a month. For good reason too since the world came to an end; leaving the dead to roam the earth. Set during 1986, Randall is desperately in search of his wife and daughter, Shannon and Lydia. By teaming up with other survivors, they try to survive together while Randall continues his search. Before long, something happens and forces Randall to be separated from the group. At first, Randall just wants to find his missing friends and family but there is a much darker secret awaiting Mr. Wayne and he must face his inner demons.

Deadlight feels like a cross between Chair Entertainment’s Shadow Complex and PlayDead’s Limbo since it has the same puzzle platforming element. Of course, the artwork is more towards Limbo while the gameplay is similar to Shadow Complex. Deadlight starts you off with nothing but a destination you must reach. Players have to find weapons along the way, which means you have to outsmart the shadows. Let’s talk more about the puzzle element of the game. With the ability to jump, sprint, tackle and taunt, all of these must be used to escape. The puzzles in the game are pretty easy to solve as long as you are being observant. By rushing, you are almost promised Randall’s death. More advanced moves will be presented to the player when the time arrives; like being able to wall jump. At some point, Randall will find a slingshot and it helps to solve the many puzzles that you will come across. For those that are good at observation, you may be able to get through the game with few deaths. Everyone else may get stuck on a couple of parts throughout the game.

When it comes to defending yourself, there are a couple of weapons that can be used. The first and most important would be the axe. The axe will be your main way of fending off the shadows and can even break padlocks and boards. Be warned that just because you have the axe, doesn’t mean you can hack and slash through the game. That approach will get you killed because not only are the shadows dangerous in groups and able to kill in seconds but there is a stamina bar that limits what you do. Anything from sprinting, climbing or swinging the axe will drain stamina and leave you open. You will come across some guns before the end but use the bullets sparingly. Bullets are hard to come by and if you run out of ammo, you might just be doomed especially since guns are perfect for getting out of a jam. If a shadow manages to grab you, you can break free by mashing the “B” button to break free. You can’t afford to have Randall die before he finds his friends and family, so try not to take risks when not needed.

Just by looking at the screenshots, you can tell that Tequila Works put a lot of time into the details. These graphics are gorgeous and the animations for the character models follow suit. Even the cutscenes that have a comic book feel look great. Tie the graphics in with the soundtrack of the game and you will be drawn into the world of Deadlight. I even got distracted quite often by what was happening in the background, even as I was being chased.

As much good as there is to be said, there also are some sour notes. Many people are claiming it takes 5 hours to beat the game along with searching for collectables. It took me about 1 hour and 36 minutes to beat the game and be at 83% completion rate. For a game that costs $15, that is a pretty high price especially when the replay valve isn’t even high. The final “part” of the game, (if you can call it a part) takes only minutes to beat. I did it in 16 minutes, which makes me wonder why the developers just didn’t combine part two and three together. Those of you that like to have a well explained ending may feel left wanting. The game just simply ends and while I won’t give away any spoilers, it just felt completely odd.

Pros:

  • Definitely a fresh breath of air that the zombie genre needed.
  • The graphics for both in-game and the cutscenes are really well done; soundtrack fits in perfectly!
  • The puzzle platforming element feels just as good as any other of the genre.

Cons:

  • The game is way too short for the price they ask for.
  • Ending will leave players feeling empty.
  • Why not just combine the extremely short act three with act two?

While I did enjoy my time with Deadlight, I can’t bring myself to recommend it to anyone. Yes, it is a different spin on the zombie games and I really enjoyed the puzzle element. It just left me feeling empty and unsatisfied; almost like a roller coaster that has a great drop but otherwise, forgettable twists and turns.

Verdict: 70%

Deadlight Gameplay

Deadlight just came out 2 days ago. Would you be willing to download the game even after reading this review?