Coming into Deadlight I was very aware of what was being promised by the Developers Tequila Works. Billed as a “sidescrolling, survival horror, cinematic platformer” I felt as if there were too many conflicting genres thrown together. I wasn’t sure a 2D perspective could create the atmosphere survival horror games are so well known for or if it was even possible for a platformer to be cinematic in any way. Deadlight manages to not only prove that yes, these things are possible, but also they can come together to create a fantastically unique experience.
Instantly you are thrown into a comic book style cutscene that tells us about a group of characters trying to survive an apocalypse. One of the group is coldly murdered by another as she has been bitten by the “shadows”, which are essentially just zombies. It’s a brief set up that leads to the playable character, Randall, splitting from the group to search for his family. It also showcases the incredibly corny dialogue and half-hearted voice acting that permeates the entire game and makes every attempt at moments of a serious nature seem laughable. This is honestly a huge shame as there are many fantastic revelations and story points where a better script and better voice acting would’ve elevated the story to an incredibly high level. Instead, Randall’s diary and the various dream sequences are the only involving parts which leave us with a story that sometimes feels great but is never allowed to reach that level.
Thankfully, the core platforming gameplay helps to push the story to the back of your mind with its incredibly satisfying, clunky style. Armed with a jump, roll and sprint button, Randall is a joy to control throughout the game and you never feel like any challenge is beyond his abilities. However, this doesn’t stop some areas from being incredibly frustrating due to the trial and error nature of them. A section around a third of the way through the player is stripped of all weapons and is thrown into a very platformering-centric arena that provides some of the most irritatingly designed traps I’ve experienced in a long time. Weighting in at around 20 minutes the section is just long enough to provide a real sticking point, especially due to Deadlight only lasting 2-3 hours depending on how much you like to dig around for secrets.
The survival aspect is well implemented due to the few weapons you receive and the scarce supplies you receive for said weapons. The fire axe is the first weapon Randall comes across and, for the first few seconds anyway, makes you feel infinitely stronger. However, the stamina bar prevents you simply wading through a sea of zombies as their entrails burst forth, meaning that each hit has to be planned in advance while you assess the situation to see if you’re able to deal with the numbers. If not, the option to simply run away or use an environmental hazard, by utilizing the taunt button, to see large groups to their demise. The revolver is introduced and becomes your main weapon most of the game simply due to its ability to see off 6 zombies consecutively if you score a headshot on each, allowing you to escape sticky situations. It’s also fantastic fun to reload. Finally, a shotgun is given in the later stages of the game which leads to some devastatingly effective crowd control but, as with very other weapon, picking your moments is vital which, in this case, is due to the paltry amount of ammo on offer. The strongest sense of extreme panic comes from the sections in which running is the only option, which really emphasises the survival aspect. Whether it be bolting down a destroyed street dodging shadows or strategically avoiding a helicopter whilst jumping through an office building, Deadlight is at its strongest when Randall is at his weakest.
Deadlight is incredibly visually bleak. It never goes far beyond grey and depicts a dead city that has been picked apart by the shadow infestation and then given the once over by the “New Law” outfit, leaving it a complete state. The interiors are the standard affair in anything involving zombie-esque character; flickering light fittings that are hanging by straining wires, destroyed hospitals to be picked through and jaunts through sewer systems, so whilst the visuals are decent enough they aren’t terribly fresh. Haunting musical interludes snake through the entire game and are used to a minimalistic effect leading to genuine moments of fear as it slowly creeps to the foreground in the audio landscape.
Deadlight is a unique and, mostly, enjoyable game. It struggles to be a truly great piece of work due to the dialogue and acting wiping out any importance the story could’ve contained. Some extremely frustrating stretches of gameplay and a slightly generic visual design doesn’t help its case either, however these are minor concerns overall and Deadlight manages to meld all of the aforementioned elements into a genuinely intriguing title. A slightly longer play time would’ve been appreciated, as it feels having slightly more content would’ve helped to flesh out the experience, but it provides a solid ride for anyone with a hankering for something slightly different this summer.
13 total views, 1 views today