I run. All of my weapons have been lost and I am alone in a world that is cruel, dark and twisted. The end of the world will find a way to change everyone that is still around; humans have become almost as dangerous as the shadows I try to avoid. There is no humanity left in this world, only sorrow. It’s not a matter of if I can survive, rather for how long; there is no hope for me here. I continue to run as I hear their snarling growls all around me, I know they can smell my fear. I run and try to jump to the nearest ledge in this empty warehouse, the shadows engulf the area, I need to make the next jump or I am dead. The jump seems impossible, but I know I can do it. I have to. I have no way to defend myself as they pull and snarl at my feet. Here goes nothing, I leap. I don’t time the jump well and I fall, tumbling to the cold floor below. The shadows surround me, I try to push them away and struggle to safety, but it is too late. I am finished.
Welcome to Deadlight
Deadlight takes place in Seattle on July 4th 1986; 145 days after ‘Project Zero’ started this post-apocalyptic disaster. A virus has spread throughout the world and turned its inhabitants into shadows (otherwise known as zombies). One bite from these “shadows” and you are dead, to eventually rise again and exist as one of them. You take control of Randall Wayne, a loving father who is on a mission to find his wife Shannon and daughter Lydia. Randall is found with a group of people when some circumstances occur that means Randall is left on his own. He must now attempt to meet up with his group, whilst trying to find his family in this tragic world.
The unique twist is that Deadlight takes place entirely on a 2D plain, this allows for the games developer Tequila Works to create some classic platforming levels as well as some challenging puzzles. Navigating through the world is a stunning experience; the foreground’s art style has Randall covered almost completely as a shadow, as well as the shadows who are scattered throughout the world. The art style really shines, having a ‘Limbo’ vibe as well as a very strong ‘Dead Nation’ style. These two styles fit well with some of the most beautifully detailed backgrounds I have seen in a 2D platformer. The game looks amazing.
One thing you will notice right away from the first cut scenes is a comic book style very similar to ‘inFAMOUS’; these are cell shaded scenes with no movement until the scene changes. The voice acting comes through as the scene presents itself. This style works very well as it seems to emphasise the rough, gritty world that has been created.
One flaw with the cut scenes, however, is the voice acting itself. Randall is given the generic rough voice (picture Adam Jensen from ‘Deus Ex’). The voice works, but the actor himself doesn’t seem to fully embrace the role. It sounds forced, which can make you lose the atmosphere that the rest of the game creates. The secondary actors again feel very weak, almost as if they are reading the lines with no emotion whatsoever. It feels completely out of place in a game that seems to nail almost every aspect when it comes to narrative.
Navigating through the worlds various puzzles allow for a good challenge, the intensity added by the shadows in most sections really makes you feel helpless and alone. You are outnumbered by the shadows most of the time and with some sections of the game leaving you unable to defend yourself, the atmosphere is intense. During the course of the game you are given an axe, a revolver, a pistol and a shotgun. These weapons never feel powerful, which drives home the fact you are a husband who is looking for his family and no weapons expert. Do not expect to be slicing heads with ease, it is difficult and attacking a heard of shadows head on will almost certainly be the death of you. Sometimes avoiding and outsmarting is the way to go, allowing you to progress and fight another day.
These puzzles, however, become even more challenging as they are really difficult to see. For example; in one section of the game you are introduced to a series of death traps that, with one wrong move, will not hesitate to kill you. These become nothing but trial and error, as some of the actual traps are blended into the world so well it becomes difficult to see. Unfortunately, these deaths end up feeling cheap. In areas where you can see the platforming aspects in front of you clearly, the game shines, allowing you to traverse the world using your mind to outsmart the puzzles ahead. Also the game has its own ‘I Am Alive’-type stamina bar, meaning traversal must be done in a decent timeframe and melee combat cannot break down to a button mash. Once your stamina is depleted Randall will start to catch his breath and the shadows will have their next meal.
The narrative itself is actually quite interesting and builds up nicely, the second half of the game allows the story to flesh out and become a fascinating tale. The game also has some quick load times, which is an absolute pleasure when facing the harder sections of the game. Before you can load however you are greeted to a black screen which says, “Press any button to re-load”. This screen was probably not needed as there was nothing else to do, but at that point it becomes a nuisance when you realize the game is not actually loading because you haven’t pressed a button.
There are only a few technical hitches I encountered; the small section of slow down I experienced during the conclusion of the game and the after death flailing of a few enemies. Thankfully none are major enough to ruin the experience.
Throughout the world there are a series of collectibles allowing you to discover more stories about the world around you. Also, you can collect diary pages which are able to be read through the main menu option. These add to Randall’s story and are a really interesting inclusion, if you are interested in finding out more about the plot. Also included is an online leader board system, ranking you on the amount of collectibles you are able to find as well as the time you have taken to get through the level. This system will allow for much competition regarding speed runs and extend the replay ability of the title itself. The main campaign itself will take you around 5 hours to complete over the 3 sections of the story.
Deadlight captures the post apocalyptic atmosphere very well, it allows for some very intense moments making you feel weak and alone in a world that could finish you off at any time. However some weak voice acting really feels out of place within the mood it is trying to portray, breaking the atmosphere that Tequila Works was trying to create. Platforming feels nice and the puzzle sections allow for some decent challenges. Cheap deaths and trial and error are present, but never to the point of frustration.
Deadlight is a world full death and distress, it is a worthy trip. But will you be able to outrun your shadow?
Excellent art style
Extra narrative included in collectibles
Bad voice acting