It’s been a long time since I’ve played a platformer game, the last few I played probably being Dorito’s Crash Course and Mario, so you can imagine the excitement when I heard the hype for the new platformer Deadlight. Of course, it was free for Xbox Live Gold Members, and of course I’m a cheapskate and didn’t buy the game. When first released, it crashed because nobody would pay £20 for a platformer they knew nothing about. After playing the game for a while, I thought, “You know what, I’m going to write an article on this game”, so here it is.
Developed by Tequila works (no, I’ve not heard of them either), Deadlight was released in 2012 for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The game is set in Seattle in 1986 and you play a character called Randall Wayne, a former park ranger on the hunt for his family lost in the apocalypse. The outbreak of a virus has decimated the society by reanimating the dead, sound familiar? As you traverse your way across the death-trap of a city towards a safe point, it’s never as easy as they make it seem and you encounter friends and foes and a weird ratman in the sewers. Along this journey, the main character is haunted by his own thoughts, as you have constant flashbacks of your house and family. Honestly, it’s a bit of an overused plot and boring plot now, but maybe that’s just me and if you complete the game on Nightmare mode, there’s an alternative ending that certainly makes the storyline interesting. The enemies you find blocking your path are ripped off zombies called Shadows, and they won’t hesitate to eat you if you come too close.
In terms of gameplay, you would think it’s pretty simplistic, but it’s actually not. In fact, it main criticism was on the controls being too complicated. Along with the simplistic left right and A to jump, they tried to incorporate all the controls you would have in a 3D zombie survival game. There’s crouch, melee weapon and a separate button for ranged weaponry, sprint, switch weapon and interact buttons, and it they are just the separate buttons. There’s a whole load of combinations to shoot and aim, to break open door or to run through panels of weak wood, and when you are getting overrun by flesh-loving Shadows or trying to run away from a ridiculously inaccurate helicopter, this can be a lot to comprehend. Along with the ridiculous amount of controls, the game is hard as nuts. I found myself dying a ridiculous amount of times and coming seriously close to a rage quit, much to my friend’s amusement, especially when Randall can’t climb as fast as you’d like whilst being shot at, or gets stuck on a Shadow (try and work that one out). Finally, the game was just too short, it felt like I had played it for a couple of hours and that was it, and it’s not replayable at all as nothing changes between levels.
The game does have its high points though, some I really liked. For example the parkour element of climbing buildings is good, although I’m not sure how a park ranger learnt how to do that. This also led to the introduction of secrets in the game by reaching places you wouldn’t think, leading to pages of Randall’s diary, which has somehow blown over the entire city. This led me to scour every area as much as I can, and not only do you get rewarded through achievements, but there is also the leaderboards between your friends to see who completed the levels to the fullest. The puzzle element is enjoyable as well, making you work to complete the game rather than just climbing and blowing out zombie brains. Although this does make the game a little more interesting, it still does not help the length and confusion in the game, even the tutorial for the gun is confusing as you don’t get told how to draw and aim the gun.
I would also like to spend a paragraph on the complete and utter stupidity of the guy in the sewers and the whole 2.5D approach to the game. Firstly, as you progress through the game, you get saved by a crazy old man who live in the sewers and goes by the name of “Rat”. He saves you and then decides to put you through a vigorous test of wit to get to his home, of which one slip will impale you on some random spikes placed there for the Shadows. When you finally complete the utterly pointless Saw style game, you reach his elaborate house system built out of wood and lots of pulleys. In the background you can see all the contraptions made from gears which he seemed to have pulled out of his behind and somehow put all of it together without a single soul on the surface noticing. Unbelievable, completely pointless to the story line and just ridiclulous, like they ran out of ideas halfway through the game. There’s also the platformer style, which I do enjoy, but it make the game completely unbelievable, because Seattle is a massive place, and on the off chance you find a treehouse in the whole if the city, how he knew it was the correct one is beyond me.
Sorry about that little rant, but now we come to the final verdict. Personally, I kind of enjoyed the 3 hours I spent on the game, with an added 30 minutes of annoying death, but if you didn’t get this game while it was free then there’s no point in buying it at all unless you are really bored. The platformer style is new and interesting and the use of the parkour is fun, giving the game that little bit extra from the other zombie apocalypse games already out there.