Deadlight wears its influences clearly on its sleeve.
Brushes of The Walking Dead are etched into its cut-scenes and hues of Limbo decorate a bleak 1980′s post-apocalyptic backdrop. Trial-and-error pitfalls conjure up memories of Another World and an emphasis on avoidance over confrontation harks back to early Resident Evil’s.
Moulded into 2D survival platformer, Deadlight is a short but delightfully sweet treat for fans of any of the names above.
Randall Wayne is a man of conviction, led by the hope that somewhere his family is still alive in a post-zombie outbreak. Split from his group of survivors, Randall traipses through the streets, neighbourhoods and across the rooftops of Seattle in search of his loved ones.
Deadlight’s story falls prey to a number of clichés that typically burden most survival horrors leaving the best storytelling to Randall’s diary, pages of which are curiously scattered throughout the road ahead.
A zoomed out perspective gives a much greater view of Randall’s ruined world, detailed backgrounds populated by cars abandoned on highways and neighbourhoods whether the living dead wander, dashing into the foreground at the sight of Randall’s silhouette.
Randall’s platforming abilities aren’t likely to measure up to any dungaree-clad plumber, climbing over wreckage, dangling from ladders and occasionally wall jumping to safety. It’s a little sluggish but painstakingly demanding and precise that, in time-sensitive scenarios, Deadlight leaves little room for error in its pitfalls.
Some of these – deep waters, tall fires, and electrified floors – can be pondered over before reacting though others will require you to think on your feet as you dash through rooms and away from the shuffling hordes.
Zombies (or shadows as Randall refers to them as) are best avoided rather than confronted – a refreshing change from the usual shoot-first-worry-later mentality of other games. Ammunition is sparse although a caveat to this is that the majority of the game is spent without a firearm. Instead, luring enemies into traps or by whistling and picking off lone shadows with your fire axe is a preferred tactic.
Though Deadlight wears many hats, it shines as a puzzler. Approaching shadows with brute strength will send players back to the nearest checkpoint and a section of the game’s second act puts players through their paces through the Portal-esque challenge rooms hidden in the sewers.
The only real criticism that can be levelled at Deadlight is it’s a little too short to justify the 1200 Microsoft point price tag. Countless deaths aside, most players will find their finish time comes in at around two hours with replayability boiling down to collectible hunting and leaderboard chasing.
Arguably, it could benefit from being an act or two longer but Deadlight is a modest game that’s maybe afraid of overstaying its welcome – which it shouldn’t be.
In a generation where zombies are considered a lazy game designer’s fodder, Deadlight is a welcome change from the norm that puts brains to work rather than splattering them across your screen.
A refreshing but slight treat for fans of survival horror.
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