[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Tequila Works” publishers=”Microsoft Studios” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”August 1, 2012″]
Before this generation, zombie games were a rarity outside of a few standouts like Zombies Ate My Neighbor and the Resident Evil series. This is puzzling since the zombie game by its nature provides the endless horde of zombies to make the perfect video game cannon fodder. Starting with the Dead Rising series and Left 4 Dead, this generation has fully embraced the living dead even inserting them into traditional games like Call of Duty. Like anything that becomes popular, there are detractors that wish to see something else besides zombies. Deadlight’s enemies are technically called Shadows, so detractors can rest easy… at least until the enemies try to eat them. Deadlight is Tequila Work’s freshman entry into the world of gaming and is published by Microsoft Studios as an exclusive entry and part of their Summer of Arcade event. Yes, Deadlight is a zombie game…but oh so much more.
Deadlight is set in the 1980’s West Coast USA, and you play the game as everyday grizzled man Randall Wayne. The game starts off 145 days after “Patient Zero” and Wayne killing an infected group member “because it had to be done.” Soon after, the Shadows swarm from the gunshot and Wayne is separated from his group. Heading to the fabled Safe Point, he hopes to reunite with the group and find his long-lost wife and daughter there. The story is presented well and even has a plot twist or two but before the big reveal you will probably at least half guess what it is if you have watched any kind of zombie media. The tale draws more influence from the style of movies like The Road than Romero or Walking Dead.
Set up as a 2D platformer, Deadlight will draw a lot of comparisons to previous Summer of Arcade titles Limbo and Shadow Complex. A better comparison would be old school Prince of Persia. Deadlight is full of running, jumping, ledge grabbing, & wall jumping all reminiscent of the classic platformer and more so than the Mario-esque Limbo and Metroidvania-esque Shadow Complex. Mixing in gunplay and melee with an axe, Deadlight arms you for puzzle solving and Shadow killing. The smart move is always to avoid confrontation though and luckily in most stages quick platforming will allow you to literally take the high road.
For the most part, the platforming controls work well and flow nicely but there are areas where the sequences are artificially timed by things like buildings collapsing and Wayne will refuse to let go of the fence he is hanging on or instead of rolling just comes to a complete stop losing momentum. While frustrating, these hindrances in the controls are easily overlookable due to the short number of sequences where they affect the outcome. Combat works well and has a very twin stick shooter feel to it minus the god awful amount of ammo because this is a survival horror style game.
Graphically, Deadlight does look alot like a cross between Limbo and Shadow Planet. The world and characters are modeled as 3D but some stylistic choices in lighting and presentation really give it that Limbo feel. Environments range from Suburbia, USA to Sewers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle style to Big City, USA and they look good half destroyed and provide the perfect platforming scenarios. Audio is engaging with top notch voice acting for the gruff Wayne and a dramatic musical score of movie quality.
The game is laid out in 3 acts with roughly 20+ stages. A majority of the stages can be completed in under 4 minutes as they are extremely linear and most of the collectables barely hidden and only a few out of the way. This leaves the game at a completion of around 1 hour or less if you speed run it but around 4 to 5 hours is more realistic for a person’s first one hundred percent playthrough. It was a little shocking to see how linear and short the game is, but it is also kind of nice to play a good game that can be sat down with and not much thought be put into trying to explore a nonlinear world.
Deadlight is a extremely good game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the replayability factor to keep it going as a talked about game a year or two down the road. Gamers will buy it, play it, enjoy it, finish it, and then forget about it. Good games like this shouldn’t be forgotten about so hopefully some kind of DLC or sequel is already in the works.