Deadlight creates a tense and dark world that unfortunately needed just a bit more finesse to it’s design.
So here is a pretty awesome thing, a zombie game where I found myself running from them and not mowing them down liked some untouchable wrecking machine. Deadlight, an atmospheric, puzzle-platformer, escalates the tension with survival horror elements. The game is set in the late 80’s where you play as Randall Wayne, a grizzled survivalists looking for his family in the ruins of the northwest America. His journey is interspersed with comic styled cut scenes and playable flashbacks as we learn the effects of the epidemic and his bleak outlook on the situation. Randall’s voice is a bit inconsistent, sounding like Solid Snake light with uneven delivery. Overall, he is an effective tour guide through this version of zombie apocalypse. The zombies are called shadows in this world though.
Harkening back to classics like Out of This World and Flashback, Deadlight is a very stylized 2-D platformer. There is an intense use of shadows and light with intricately detailed environments. The use of 3D models allows the camera to zoom in and out and highlight certain areas and actions. Randall can run, jump, roll, climb and can use an axe, handgun and shotgun for weapons. Initially, the game starts in a suburban environment and then switches to the sewers, where some problems start to surface. With the extreme use of darks in the game, it becomes a bit hard to gauge where and when you have to jump. Coupled with some delayed control inputs and tight limitations to make jumps, the game can become an exercise in frustration. There is also Randall’s inability to swim which causes death in anything larger than a puddle.
Things do pick up after the sewer segment and we are treated to some dreadfully stunning scenes of the city in ruins as you run across rooftops being chased by a helicopter while avoiding the dead. To battle the dead, there are some weapons, but the combat is so simplistic, it is mostly just best the run away. A well placed headshot does go a long way though at the opportune time. General progression is extremely linear; deadlight only wants you to go one way. There is some leeway in finding hidden items and mini-games (little lcd handhelds). Certain segments also require a bit of trial and error, the set pieces that Tequila Works creates are thrilling, but can get annoying with constant replaying because you miss a jump. When you have a smooth run though, it creates an exciting scene that gives your journey an epic feel.
Deadlight creates a tense and beautifully dark world. I just wished I had a bit more say in what I could do in this playground. With just a bit more options to tackle the levels, some more finesse to the controls and a less finicky combat system, the game could have been an instant classic. Although, with its 3 to 4 hour playthrough, the game does treat you to a varying journey that does not overstay it’s welcome. I would hesitate to purchase at the 15 dollar price tag due to its short playtime and control issues. Once it is on sale, I would recommend giving the full game a try.