Deadlight Review

"... power lines are a reminder of Man's ability to generate electricity."

  • Developer: Tequila Works
  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Release Date: 25 October 2012

Oh look it's another game with zombies in it (and believe you me it won't be the last for awhile yet). "EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH ZOMBIES!" seems to be the catchphrase of the past few years, especially with computer games considering almost every second game deals with them. I'm not a big fan of the zombie genre, at least when it comes to movies (I think my favourite is Shaun of the Dead and that's not even a real zombie film!) but the gaming medium actually provides some opportunities to experience a zombie apocalypse in unique ways. So when I heard that there was a cinematic platformer set during a zombie apocalypse in the 80s – that seemed a unique enough combination for me to give Deadlight a second look.

Plot (4/5)
As mentioned the game is set during the 1980s when a zombie apocalypse envelops the entire world. You play a guy named Randall who used to live in a town called Hope in British Columbia, Canada with his wife and daughter. You learn that Randall eventually makes his way to Seattle which is where the game is set as there is news of a "Safe Point" for survivors of the outbreak. Randall travels with his companions in the hope of finding his family and has to navigate through the labyrinthine city while trying to avoid zombies.

As mentioned, I don't normally like the zombie genre but this game has quite a human story and all it took was a large diary to mainly tell it (a few flashbacks didn't go astray either). However I did find the ending a bit confusing; while I can understand the choices made somewhat, the advice that Randall gives to another is hypocritical to say the least. So your appreciation for the ending may vary.

Gameplay (3/5)
The game is a cinematic platformer with a zombie skin pretty much. The game is an obvious console port with fiddly controls and the keys being situated all over the keyboard – not ideal. I'd recommend that anyone playing this to play with a gamepad, especially considering how frustrating it is to jump off walls; I ended up attempting one part about 50 times before getting to the next save point, thanks to how difficult it was to jump using the keyboard. But that wasn't the only reason I ended up doing it 50 times.

If you followed a previous post of mine about how games go about saving progress, Deadlight sits firmly in the Type 1 camp, i.e. you have no indication of where the save points are and it saves automatically. Consequently, after completing the aforementioned jumping sequence I thought, "surely the game would save now. I'm assuming it has so I can go out and do some shopping now." When I got back, it turns out I didn't walk far enough to the next save point and hence I had to attempt the jumping sequence all over again! I'm not going to lie, it was pretty infuriating. I was tempted to /ragequit and stop playing right then and there, but I persisted and thankfully that was probably the only really difficult part to the game.

Sound (3/5)
The game has some decent voice acting and the appropriate sound effects you'd expect from a zombie game. There is, however, an issue where the volume during cut-scenes doesn't appear to be controllable. I remember setting the volume down and it works for every other part of the game but not for the cut-scenes resulting in my eardrums being blown every time it played one.

Music (3/5)
The game consists of mostly sombre and serene piano music combined with the occasional action music. It almost sounds like a movie soundtrack to be honest.

Graphics (4/5)
The game has some awesome background scenery of a slowly decaying 1980s Seattle and animations are of a high quality. The comic book style cut-scenes also work a treat.

Deadlight's story is told through comic book style cut-scenes

Replay (2/5)
There probably isn't much incentive to replay the game considering how linear it is except for achievement hunting (although the achievements do have pretty awesome names, as they're all named after 80s songs :)). Although having said that, I found out while reading a bit more about the game that completing the game on Nightmare mode (where you have to complete the game in one sitting with no saves) would reveal a bit more background story about Randall. So if you want to hunt for that little bit of extra story, you could replay the game on an insane difficulty level!

Do you come from a Land Down Under?

Polish (4/5)
I occasionally encountered bugs such as once where the level wouldn't load properly – thankfully reloading from the last checkpoint seemed to get rid of the issue.

Score – 6/10

Deadlight is a decent enough platformer with a novel setting (if you can call another game with zombies, "novel") although its obvious console heritage may cause some frustration when being played by us PC gamers. For the sake of your sanity, invest in a gamepad if you're going to play this game!

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam .

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