Release Date: August 1st, 2012
Developer: Tequila Works
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360] Xbox 360 Arcade
Genre: Sidescroller/Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
Deadlight, brought to you by Microsoft Studios and Tequila Works, is the newest Survival Horror game to hit the market. It takes place in an apocalyptic world where existence has become futile. You play as one man, Randall Wayne, all alone travelling the American West Coast. You are in an alternate vision of the 1980’s were an unknown disease has drastically reduced the human population and has transformed people into Zombie like beings. Along your travels you will come across other survivors, unlike in I am Alive, these men and women are no more the remnants of a society vanishing.
Early on, Deadlight was being compared to I Am Live. Since both are Survival horror games it makes sense some comparisons would be made. However the similarities are few and far in between. The only real similarities being 1) survival and 2) an apocalyptic world. Overall, Deadlight is 10 times the game and where I Am Alive fell flat, Deadlight succeeds.
Gameplay in Deadlight is immaculate in pretty much every aspect. It encompasses the side scroll theme, puzzle like environment and zombies to perfection. Everything flows beautifully. It is often referred to as a “zombie game with Puzzles” but is actually more a “puzzle game with zombies”. Some of you may be thinking “what is difference?” The difference being the zombies are part of the puzzle. In a zombie game with puzzles you would simply kill the zombies and then complete the puzzle. In Deadlight this is not the case. The zombies are part of the puzzle and since you are not loaded with piles of ammunition for that occasional weapon you may or may not find “killing” is not your priority, rather evasion is. You will be forced to use intelligence to solve puzzles and to know when to avoid zombies or kill them.
The zombies in Deadlight are not blatantly obvious. You need to pay attention as they aren’t just standing there hands out groaning and saying “brains.” They can be seen crouched over a body, in the foreground, background and sometimes are even what appears to be a body. They are even in the bottom of pits of water! So it is up to you to pay attention to your surroundings and for heaven sake use the environment to your advantage. When ever possible save your ammo by luring zombies into traps, holes, electricity etc. and if none of those are possible you can always run.
Along with “hidden”, or not so visible, zombies there are also hidden collectibles and cues for travel points in game. Collectibles are hidden throughout the level and can be seen by both a very faint shimmering blue hue as well as an icon that pops up as you pass by. Pressing “X” will cue Randall to collect these items. Items vary from ID’s off bodies to pages from his missing diary. These collectibles add huge points towards replay ability. Although I would like to have seen my stats at the end of completed sections, you can view your total collected items via the “select scene” option before starting. This allows you to easy flick through missions and select the ones you where you missed items.
You will also see these cues for travel points in game. By this I mean, for example, boarded up doors, ledges, movable book shelves and so on. These cues allow you to know how and were you need to go. Another and very vital item that can be identified by this blue hue are Health kits. If light enough you will see the internationally recognized “Health” symbol, the red cross. But since the maps tend to be dark and creepy more chances than not you will just see the shimmering blue identifying a collectible item.
The Graphics in Deadlight are beyond amazing especially considering it is a 2D sides scroller. It has left many people questioning why they have not open the world up more. Me on the other hand, I love it. You get beautiful graphics all around and even though it is only 2D I seriously felt like I was climbing up a real 3D environment. The graphics have provided so much depth that opening it up, in my opinion, would have taken away from the game and greatly effected the creativity of the environment.
Along with these beautiful graphics are even more beautiful cut scenes, assuming you can really call them that. The cut scenes are more like an open page in a vibrant artistic sketched picture book. It has a very comic like feel but more in a rough draft format. They feature Randall telling his story from his prospective with both a visually written version that you can read along with actual voice work. This to me is an amazing touch. It allows you to connect with Randall on a more personal level, as if he was directly talking to you, like you are his companion. This is also nice because it removes needless chit chat from in game and allows you to focus on the task at hand. Puzzle solving after all is no walk in the park so there is no need for someone yammering on in the background.
The controls for the most part are excellent. They are very simplistic and can be classified as “throw back” in style. There is very little you need to know to play and they tend to follow the general moves of similar game types. Not to mention you are taught all new controls as needed while you are playing.
Although close to perfection there were a few issues I had while playing. First and foremost was the inability to attack zombies coming up from the background. Now this isn’t a deal breaker as the zombies can’t attack you either, at least until they are right in line with you. I however was looking for more of a Shadow Complex type of attack where although traveling in a 2D world I could shoot and attack in a 3D manner.
Secondly I really dislike the check point/save system. Here is why. While playing if you die you get to re-spawn at the last save but this is not the same point you will necessarily start at if you had quit the game. Don’t get me wrong the save points are a nice feature so you aren’t constantly having to re-do large areas over and over again. But so many times I would check to make sure the game had saved before quitting and I would still be sent back to another point when I came back to play later on. I would have preferred if save points were utilized both as a spawn point after death as well as load points.
Despite these 2 minor issues Deadlight it is a must buy. It has beautiful graphics, a detailed story, puzzle like environments and ZOMBIES! It is a game that is not only fun but it makes you think. And for only 1200MSP how could you go wrong?
Deadlight is available on August 1st via the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Still unsure if Deadlight is for you? Check out the trailer below.
Replay ability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5