Deadlight finally graces our wonderful PS4, years after the original had hit Xbox 360 and PC. Playstation owners had to miss out on another zombie game to their bitter rivals.
Deadlight in case you didn’t know is a 2.5D action platformer taking place in 80’s Seattle after a zombie outbreak. Gamers take control for a Randall Wayne who at first thinks he just needs to find a safe zone where his family would be. Of course things aren’t that simple.
What follows is a classic side-scrolling platform game that sees Randall run, jump and climb his way over the environment. Thankfully Randall also has a few moves up his sleeve which include pulling and pushing, leaping, hanging rolling and shoulder charging. A basic set of moves for sure but essential to his survival. There is some combat of course but it is used sparingly, there are few weapons and ammo is very scarce. Most of the time you’ll be either using the environment or your trusty axe to take down the zombies or ‘shadow’s as they are called in this game. The trouble with combat is that not only do you have a health bar, but a stamina bar too. Swing your axe more than a few times and your knackered.
This basically means don’t get swarmed or you’re a dead man. It’s a nice mechanic to have but sometimes you just want to go in swinging. But I guess that defeats the object of the game, having a stamina bar does keep the menace of the shadows hanging over you.
Randall does feel quite overwhelmed at times, dying is very easy. Shadows are on you like a rash if you accidentally drop into their zone. Even one’s that seem to aimlessly shuffle in the background will come to bite you if you hang around too long. A great use of the 2.5D environment. There are also the usual hazards to avoid, drops, traps electrical cables, and, erm, water. yep that’s right Randell can’t swim. Never have I been so shocked and frustrated than when I ran and jumped into the ocean in Vice City thinking I could swim. Ugh.
Thankfully respawn points are quite generous which is a good thing as there is a fair amount of trial and error involved. and late on are some chases and the introduction of a different type of enemy. It’s at these times, perhaps the most exciting and frustrating. You have to execute your moves perfectly and will be thankful for the respawn points.
And here lies the problem, the controls can be awkward and fiddly at times. They remind me a little of the original Tomb Raider on PlayStation, you know where you have to line yourself up perfectly to make a jump or grab a ledge. Who doesn’t remember walking up to a ledge, taking two steps back and then running and jumping? It’s kind of the same with Deadlight. Must be in the right spot to grab a ladder or ledge (if you can see them given the silhouette nature of the graphics) you can climb up an over a fence a fair few times before you actually drop down on the correct side it all just seems a bit fussy and clumsy and annoying when the pressure is on.
As mentioned the game is very dark, broody and atmospheric. With this graphical style it’s sometimes hard to see what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to go. When you’re faced with a seemingly blank black wall, little do you know there is a door you’re supposed to smash down or a ladder you are supposed to climb, it can be a little confusing. But don’t let that spoil the game too much because graphically, I love Deadlight! Not only does it look gorgeous, It oozes atmosphere, and completely encapsulates the whole 80’s zombie vibe. If The Walking Dead had a 2D game this would be it. It looks stunning.
It’s a shame then that the game doesn’t last that long, you can complete the game in around 5 hours and that’s taking your time. It’s short that’s for sure but I enjoyed my brief time with the game. The story is compelling enough even if the lead character is quite forgettable. The platforming for the most part is solid, made more frustrating than it should be thanks to the graphics and the controls. It does look stunning and in some way it’s what made me keep playing because I wanted to see what the next level would look like.
As for what the Directors cut offers you, well it has 1080p resolution which makes the graphics shine, new animations, enhanced controls apparently. If so, they are not that enhanced and an all new “Survival Arena” mode. Tequilla Work seemed to have enhanced what was already good about the game, and not really done much with what wasn’t so good. Still, there is a decent game here though that just doesn’t quite reach its potential.
Whether the asking price is worth the brevity the game offers is another question though.
Deadlight: Directors Cut
Developer/Publisher: DeepSilver/Tequilla Works
Deadlight: Directors Cut is available on PS4 (reviewed) Xbox One and PC
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided a game from the publisher