Ah the zombie game…something that should warm my heart being a huge zombie fiction fan but often leaves me cold. There are few zombie games that I can actually say I love (Dead Rising series…although even that is getting bloated & unrecognisable now) & there are far too many I can say I hate.
The genre seems to be in need of a bullet to the head but occasionally something fresher claws its way out of the grave.
I bought Deadlight without really knowing what is was about. It was on sale & I had heard it was a good game…what more reason do you need to buy a game?
Deadlight tells the story of Randall Wayne, an ex-park ranger searching for his family in Seattle. A virus has decimated the world & reanimated the dead; these creatures are called shadows & are a constant threat to Randall & the other survivors.
At the start of the game Randall is separated from his group & agrees to meet them at a place called ‘safe point’ which claims to be exactly what it says it is…safe. However the shadows are not the only danger lurking out in the dying world….
The emphasis is on avoidance when it comes to the enemies of the game. Combat is limited to a fire axe (when found) which drains stamina when swung & later, a revolver & shotgun albeit with very limited ammo. You will find yourself running away a lot which will also deplete your stamina so a well thought out plan is often necessary.
There are a number of hidden collectibles to find such as pages of Randall’s lost diary, mementos & ID cards of strangers named after real life serial killers.
The main thing to praise Deadlight for is its look, playing out in a 2.5D classic platform style where the player can only move left or right & not deviate off the aligned path. The atmosphere created by a darkened foreground with a destroyed Seattle in the background, a hero silhouetted & an enemy that lives up to the ‘shadow’ name is both tense & exciting. At times you will want to stop & admire some of your beautiful surroundings although that will often be very dangerous.
The story deserves mention as well telling an interesting tale of death & loss. It is something you want to see play out & has shades of The Walking Dead style of story-telling.
Clocking in about 3 hours to complete (I picked up almost all collectibles & finished it under 3) the game is short & you can’t help feeling as if it could have had a little more fleshing out. Adding another couple of hours worth of platforming sections wouldn’t have worked though as the game is very linear & that becomes quite obvious near the end. Any longer & it might have become more of a chore.
As each screen does offer some form of challenge the linearity goes un-noticed for a while as you take a moment to plan out your moves or find yourself in a desperate race to survive. Those chase sections where you leap over cars & up ladders to escape a chasing horde of shadows are my favourite.
My biggest criticism comes from the trial & error nature of some sections where dying just becomes common place while you try & work out where to go. The checkpoint system is generous but that doesn’t stop it becoming extremely frustrating as you die for the 5th time because the way forward isn’t well sign-posted.
Sometimes this isn’t helped by the stiff controls & Randall can often feel sluggish when trying to make precision jumps.
A great addition to the zombie genre that at least tries to be fresh. Looks great & the story will have you hooked but some annoying platforming moments mixed with unforgiving trial & error sections lowers the score.