To describe a game as a sidescrolling survival horror cinematic platformer would seem like overkill. However that is exactly what Tequila Works’ first XBLA title, Deadlight, is. The game allows you to control Randall Wayne in two(and a half) dimensional space as he makes his way through a world ravaged by a virus that turns many of its formerly deceased human inhabitants into zombie like creatures referred to as shadows. The year is 1986 and the location is Seattle, WA. Our protagonist’s goal is to find the whereabouts of his wife and daughter.
Randall Wayne gets separated from a group of survivors he’s been traveling with. As Randall’s former group escapes the ever present threat of the shadows, in a vehicle, he must platform(wow it’s a verb too) his way to safety. Randall has a health meter that can be restored by first aid kits and augmented by power-ups found throughout the game. As important as that is keeping an eye on Randall’s stamina meter is even more important. Everything you do from attacking(with an axe you’ll find), to climbing and running all deplete your recharging stamina. Running is often most useful for smashing barriers and walls. Most encounters with the shadows require 3-4 hits and a low or depleted stamina meter can make it difficult to get out of tight situations. Guns are also available but ammo limitations means you should only use them when you have to. Simple puzzles will also need to be completed to advance and are at times time sensitive especially when a horde of shadows are trying to break down a door to welcome you the club.
Employing the use of a dedicated distraction(whistle or yell) button allows you do lure the shadows closer to you which can often help you escape from them. Yelling, while effective, has nothing on the environmental hazards that will flatten, electrocute, crush and slice the shadows with extreme efficiency.
Deadlight uses the ever-so popular method of story telling via graphic novel style panels. There are also some in game/engine cut scenes that attempt to explain Randall’s motivations and backstory. They typically require the player to push the analog stick to the right but do not involve any platforming or combat. The irony and tragedy of Randall’s story unfolds as players are allowed to see more and more of the opening cinematic.
Deadlight is a fun and enjoyable game albeit a brief one. It can be completed in about 3-4 hours. The developers included some hidden collectables and completion time leaderboards to give players a reason to go back. One of the most interesting parts of the game takes place during a test Randall must complete at the hand of a character known as the Rat. It is all platforming and had virtually no combat. If you enjoy platformers with a bit of story with some light combat(with the exception of the last 30 minutes)Deadlight is certainly worth your time.
Bottom Line: Try it
– Good platforming/tight controls
– interesting story
– appropriate length
– Difficult to tell whether you should walk or crawl to escape some rooms
– Action at the end moves at a much faster pace than the rest of the game
– voice overs are either serviceable or awful
– little replay value
Deadlight launched on the 360 for 1200 MS points($15) and I waited until it was half off during holiday sale. Having completed it I feel comfortable in saying that 650 MS points($7.50) feels like the right price for the game.