Monday, August 12, 2013

Deadlight Review


Over the last few years we have seen just about everything zombie within the realms of possibility, but never before have we seen it quite like this. Taking place in the 80's for seemingly no reason whatsoever, Deadlight is a side scrolling platforming puzzle game which puts the player in the shoes of protagonist Randall Wayne. Randall Wayne is a grizzly looking manly man in search of his family from which he has been separated. Seattle has been overrun by a sickness that has spread and turned its inhabitants into the flesh eating, walking undead known simply as "shadows".


The first thing that will jump at you while playing Deadlight is its apparent dreary look and atmosphere. This is something that Deadlight does indisputably well. A blend of dark shadows against brightly lit, yet washed out backgrounds set a tone that is perfect for the games setting. The thing that impressed me the most about the in game visuals and environments is the way the developers made this obviously two dimensional adventure seem very un-two dimensional. From time to time you will stumble into areas that have a breathtaking amount of depth for a side-scroller. Often given the illusion that the background is much more than just a background, almost giving you the urge to explore it. The bulk of the main story is done through comic like stills that are equally impressive and also fit the games tone just right.


But does the story stand up to the games impressive lighting and dynamic environments? Unfortunately it does not. The story here is fairly cliche, something you may expect from an older budget title of days passed. It's not that the story was absolutely terrible, it just simply falls into the category of mediocre. As far as the games ending is concerned, the story gets an A for effort, but its delivery is poorly executed, ultimately stealing the thunder of the moment.


To go with the games dreary look is a wonderful, eerie and atmospheric soundtrack of ambiance that harmoniously melds with the games visual experience. Its obvious that a lot of care wen't into this games soundtrack and the effort has certainly paid off. Yet I can't say the same for the games atrocious voice acting and dialogue. Randall Wayne's voice definitely holds a certain gruffness that one would expect from a giant man with an epic beard. But gruffness doesn't go the distance when it comes to voice acting. A lot of the voices in this game make cheesy B-rate acting seem wonderful and a few interesting lines aside, the games dialogue seems forced and at times unnecessary.


All the things mentioned above can still sum up to a great experience, but most of my frustrations with the game come from the titles mediocre gameplay. Aside from a few overly frustrating parts, the game doesn't offer much in the way of challenge. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who tends to stray from titles involving heavy platforming and puzzles. Deadlight is extremely linear and though there are a fair amount of collectibles to be found, the game offers very little in the ways of exploration. After finishing my first play-through with the game I had a an overall completion of over 85% percent. I had found a great many of the games collectibles, though I wasn't really looking for them. In fact, I didn't particularly find many roads straying from the beaten path. As far as puzzles are concerned there are definitely a few moments here and there that had me scratching my head, but the end result of the puzzles failed to wow me in any way. Deadlights gameplay is about as straight forward as it gets. 

  
Deadlight focuses greatly on survival. Your best bet is to avoid the undead at all cost and a lot of the time it almost seems like there is no danger of combat whatsoever. But its the moments when combat is unavoidable that emphasize just how clunky and frustrating the combat system really is. Swinging your ax around uses up stamina. When your stamina runs dry you will have to wait a frustratingly long time for it to refill. Simply hacking away at zombies with your ax will get you no further than knocking a zombie down, providing you with a few moments until they are once again on their feet. When on the ground players can bring the ax down on disabled enemies for a kill. In small numbers this is fine, but when facing an overwhelming number of zombies you might as well throw yourself at them until they rip you apart allowing you to restart at the last check point. It doesn't help that the controls, especially when it comes to platforming, are simply passable. Normally I would ease up on infrequent clunky and unresponsiveness in controls. But seeing as this is a platformer, I personally feel the controls should be the most solid of all the games aspects. Usually the occasional wonkyness with controls is fine, but its frantic situations when you need to make every jump and attack count that this can cause agonizing frustration. 


Deadlight is definitely not the worst title I have ever played. It gets a lot of respect for making an attempt on something new and refreshing in a genre that has nearly been beaten to death. But with lack luster gameplay, a campaign of three to five hours, some bugs including crashing, horrible voice acting and equally unimpressive dialogue I couldn't consciously recommend this title for a price of fifteen dollars. If you find it on sale for five bucks and some of the games aspects intrigue you, give it a go.  


Pros:

- Impressive Visuals 

- Diverse Environments 

- Great Soundtrack


Cons:

- Linear 

- Terrible Voice Acting

- Too Short

- Uninspiring Gameplay


SCORE:

6.4 / 10