Deadlight takes you in an alternative past set in Seattle in the year 1986 where a threatening virus infects people and turns them into zombies, named Shadows for the occasion. The character you control is Randall, a survivor of the event who is in the search for family of his wife, Shannon, and daughter Lydia and for that cause has joined a pack of survivors formed of his friend Ben, an officer named Sam and two sisters, Stella and Karla. There is a lot of premise in Daedlight’s story, and thankfully the scenario is well delivered making you share Randall’s agony.
In terms of gameplay Deadlight is a mix of survival horror, platforming, sidescrolling, and action adventure, with touches of puzzles and strategy. Randall, a fairly athletic type that his skills resemble Prince of Persia, moves in two directions. Even though Deadlight’s gives more emphasis on platforming and puzzling, our hero will have to deal with sequences full of running, jumping, moving objects, and climbing, in order to progress and take down the Shadows. There are also occasional fetch quests where you can’t leave set areas until you’ve found something, but that’s rarely a problem while Randall must also find hidden objects in the game which will unfold secrets and other extras.
Battles against the Shadows at some point in the game are inevitable but that’s not the main characteristic in Deadlight. As Randall has only three portions of health you must be very carefull in approaching your enemies. If you find yourself fighting again two Shadows, then defeat will be the logical outcome. As such, much of the game is spent scrabbling away from the Shadows, whistling to lure them onto electrocuted traps.The game is single-minded, throwing the same situations at you over and over again (usually involving a zombie, an environmental hazard and the taunt button).
What you should be aware if that health portions are not easy to find so you have to be very careful not to waste them. There are also weapons in the game, axes, slingshots, pistols and a shotgun, but take a while to appear, and when they do they’re limited in their effectiveness, which means avoidance, mostly by climbing up walls to protect your precious three units of health, is the name of most of the game.
When you loose your three bars of health then, just like Limbo, a checkpoint restart is what comes next. these restarts become a familiar routine – particularly as the game moves from its first act to its second and third, where the emphasis is placed more firmly on platforming and trial and error design traps.
As Deadlight is first and foremost a platformer its success depends on the controls. Thankfully the controls, even though are not in the same height as Prince of Persia or Outland, deliver a functional and pleasant experience. There are of course occasional glitches and sometimes a press of a button may not prove as responsive as it should leading to failure attempts. Big jumps are also difficult and sometimes the line between failure and success is very thin.
Deadlight will take you approximately 2-3 hours to complete, a bit of a disappointment as we wanted more to be honest. Thankfully there is an extremely difficult NIGHTMARE mode, and a lot of extras you can find in the game, like the 60 pages of evidence about the events that spread the disease, collecting evidence and personal items from the dead and missing, and 3 retro handheld games, one per chapter. These retro delights are as incongruous as they are old-school, and you can grab some easy achievements by playing them.
What might also disappoint someone is the game’s strict linear nature. There is little exploration, and you must follow a specific path. A Metroid-like world would be more suitable as the post-apocalyptic Seattle is so well-designed and ideal for exploration.
Deadlight brings interesting story for platformer, pretty nice graphics,and good puzzles for this type of game. Zombies may be the theme of hundreds of games and 2D sidescrollers have been done since the NES, however fans of side-scrolling platformers like Limbo and Shadow Complex, and zombie games in general, will find an original, but imperfect, experience here.
Tequila Works’ title is one of those games to come out that has so many things to love, but it’s bogged down by a few shortcomings, wonky controls, a 15 dollar price tag and limited play prevent it from being truly great. The tone and excellent aesthetic design of the title only increases its value as a gaming piece making for a very promising start from a Studio that will definitely keep us busy in the coming years.
You can grab the PC version of Deadlight from here for a discounted price of 10,19€ until November 1st.
Gameconnect Rating: 7.4