Deadlight is set in an alternative ‘Seattle’ in the year 1986 and it is the end of the world as we know it, a plague of zombies or ‘Shadows’ (as there known in Deadlight) have overrun the planet, resulting in a more vicious and gruesome world then we could ever have imagined. You play as “Randell Wayne”, he is one of the few survivors and he is on a desperate search for his family’s whereabouts and safety. But in this new cruel world the ‘Shadows’ are just the tip of the iceberg as vigilante groups have taken the law into their own hands and they prove to be just as a deadly foe as the ‘Shadows’ themselves.
Can ‘Randell’ survive this new, brutal world and will he find the whereabouts of his family? His fate is in your hands and can you bring hope to a world with no hope left?
2D platforming games have come a long, loooong way over the years; no longer do they serve as a restriction in comparison to the 3D environmental gaming world. Games like ‘Shadow Complex’, ‘Limbo’ and ‘Fez’ have shown us the way and have set a new high standard and ‘Deadlight’ joins that elite group. It soon becomes apparent quite early on in the campaign, just how advanced the visuals of ‘Deadlight’ really are. On the surface the gameplay mechanic remains that of the traditional 2D Platformer, but the foreground and background literally comes to life and your surrounding environments live and breathe all on their own (well sort of, if you exclude the zombie creatures). The environments are so cleverly done, that you forget your actually playing what is essentially a 2D game.
But the clever use of the visuals and environments do not stop there, the zombies are called ‘Shadows’ for a very good reason, as you’ve guessed it, they hide in the shadows. Just like ‘Limbo’, this just adds to its creep factor, as surprise attacks are all that more surprising as you never know what’s lurking in the next shadow. ‘Deadlights’ visuals really are a joy to behold; I can’t really explain how good they look, until you’ve actually seen the game in motion at first hand.
As I’ve mentioned before, ‘Deadlight’ is essentially a 2D Platformer, but don’t let this seemingly basic gameplay mechanic put you off, as nothing could be further from the truth. If your familiar with the awesome ‘Limbo’ and ‘Shadow Complex’, ‘Deadlight’ is kind of like a cross between the two and if you’re a fan of the retro Sega Megadrive era, there’s a hint of ‘Flashback’ and ‘Another World’ thrown in there too.
Unlike most of the other zombie mash ups, that encourage you to take on the zombies man to man, for most cases the best option here is simply to just run for it. Similar to the much underappreciated ‘Dead Island’, taking on one or two zombies, doesn’t really offer much of a problem, but once a crowd starts gathering, you’re in for a world of trouble. When taking on the zombie/shadow masses, it is vitally important that you keep an eye on not only your health bar, but your stamina bar too. When taking on more than one Shadow, your health can deplete very fast, resulting in your dying within seconds. But keeping an eye on your stamina bar is just as vital also, running, jumping and taking on the Shadows with a melee weapon will decrease your stamina bar very quickly and when it begins to run out, you will be presented with a pulsating screen, which all adds to ‘Deadlights’ panic factor.
But ‘Deadlight’ like any other game, isn’t without its faults. At times the controls can feel a little sticky as you frantically try to jump onto that ladder when having a horde of ‘Shadows’ coming your way and the jumping can also be a little fiddly when running with the sprint button pressed in. But these are very minor gripes, but are still worth mentioning.
But with that all being said, I truly believe that 2D platforming is a resurrecting genre, thanks to some very impressing and ever improving titles that are becoming available to the Xbox 360 Marketplace and ‘Deadlight’ is just another factor to prove that the 2D genre is not yet dead and buried.
I was actually surprised by the audio quality of ‘Deadlight’ given it’s an XBLA title, not that I expected anything shoddy, but I think it’s just a testament to the ever growing quality of downloadable games. After reading a few reviews across the good old internet, this is an area that ‘Deadlight’ has been criticised for. Yes the acting isn’t the greatest that you’re ever going to hear and yes it is cheesy, but given that this game is set in the 1980’s, which was a decade renowned for its cheesy (yet great) zombie flicks, I think it fits the games personality to a T. ‘Deadlight’ is supported by a narrative throughout by the games main character “Randell”, where he reveals key plotlines and offers a stylish description to his surroundings. It’s almost ‘”Solid Snake-ask” and to be perfectly honest, ‘Deadlight’ would lack a certain amount of personality without its narrative.
The games soundtrack also does a subtle yet effective job, setting the tone perfect for each and every scene. In fact, not only is the game clearly inspired by the 1980 golden era of zombie flicks, but also so is the soundtrack. It almost gets me in the mood to watch a classic “George A Romeo” zombie classic.
It won’t take you all that long to clear through the campaign and in many ways that’s a plus point. Each chapter is short, sweet and straight to the point, if ‘Deadlight’ was any longer, it may suffer from slight overkill. But once the campaign is finished with, there is still plenty here to encourage you to come back for more. Throughout the game there are plenty of hidden items, such as I.D cards, newspaper clippings and diary notes, which all add more back story to ‘Deadlight’.
You also have you level times uploaded to an online leaderboard, to see how you times fair to others within the online community and let’s not forget the extra competitive edge this adds to the need of beating one of your friend’s times. There will also be ‘Content Downloads’ available at a later date, so it will be interesting to see what the folks at ‘Tequila Works’ will have in store for us all.
You can download ‘Deadlight’ for 1200msp, so it’s among the high end market in terms of price. As much as I love ‘Deadlight’ the price maybe a little too steep for some, I believe 800msp may have been a fairer price. But with that being said, ‘Deadlight’ is a part of the ‘Summer of Arcade’ promotion, which is that if you purchase any three games within the promotion, you will receive 400msp back into your ‘Live’ account at a later date.
Deadlight is an excellent and very enjoyable XBLA game and for me, it’s up there with the best in recent times, but I can’t help but think that it will appeal exclusively to the Zombie fest fans and to those who want a touch of 2D Platforming nostalgia. As always with XBLA title, you have the option of downloading the ‘Trial’ before you plunge into the full purchase. But ‘Deadlight’ is without a doubt worth your time, even if its via a ‘Trial’ and considering this is ‘Tequila Works’ first game, it’s exciting to see what they come up with next or for that matter, if in fact we’ll see a ‘Deadlight’ sequel, I for one certainly hope so.