key review info
- Game: Deadlight
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
It’s been quite a year for zombie games as fans of the genre were hit with lots of new titles that promise a new approach that should blow your mind.
Deadlight is just another zombie game built on the Unreal Engine that tries to come up with something new, but ends up full of clichés taken from previous titles.
The game was initially launched on Xbox 360 and received mixed reviews. I’m not sure whether or not developers decided to bring the game on PC based on these reviews, but I’m certain they couldn’t make too many changes in just two months.
Created by Spanish indie studio Tequila Work, Deadlight is an interesting mixture of survival horror and side-scrolling platformer. Although it’s been built using Epic’s Unreal Engine, Deadlight isn’t a 3D game or a 2D one, but something in between.
The story is pretty simple and counts as the first cliché. It’s year 1986 and an outbreak of a virus turned most humans into mindless brain-eating zombies, who are called “Shadows” in the game. You play the role of Randall Wayne, the only survivor of the apocalyptic event.
The action takes place in Seattle and you, as Randall, have to reunite with your family who is supposedly camped in a safe area called “Safe Point.” For that to happen, Randall needs to get through a city ravaged by “Shadows” and that’s where the action starts.
What really makes Deadlight shine is the “darkness” that surrounds the main character. I would have been very happy to say the same thing about the story, but the plot is so evasive that by the end of the game you wonder why you had to go all that way to the finish line.
However, I did like the pieces of Randall’s diary that you stumble upon during your journey and totally found interesting the fact that you will unearth bodies of famous killers (!?), but I won’t give you any spoilers here.
Even though the game offers some combat action, developers strongly suggest that this is not how players must approach the game. And they are right. Once you get attacked by a zombie and start throwing punches, more will be alerted and there’s no way that you can escape when you have only three points of health.
Basically, the best approach when you get attacked is a hit and run tactic, otherwise you’re pretty much dead, or better "zombified." Unfortunately, for that strategy to work you need good, responsive controls, which, sadly, Deadlight fails to offer to players.
I found controls being too clunky and there were times when I had to die at least a dozen times just because Randall would not crouch on time. I also found the puzzles throughout the game pretty naive or almost non-existent.
The main objective in Deadlight is to get through the city of Settle unscathed. Given the fact that this is a platformer, you can only move from left to right and the idea is to survive each puzzle that is presented to you.
Alas, there were no puzzles and the only choice you have to successfully leave a room or a building is the most obvious. I felt like I was herded towards the end of the game with only one choice to make (not necessarily wrong), which was always the most obvious.
I tried playing Deadlight for PC using a controller only after I found that using the keyboard is pretty awkward. I can definitely say that the controller is the way to go, even though sometimes, when you need it most, Randall simply won’t execute the given command as quickly as he should. That can only mean one thing, death and reload.
Graphics and Sound
Deadlight’s visuals are simply stunning. I can definitely say that this is one of the game’s strongest points, along with the “dark” background music. Some critics considered Deadlight a 2.5D game, but I see it as a 2D platformer with 3D environments, not necessarily a hybrid between the two.
Obviously, Randall cannot interact with the environments, which sometimes creates some weird situations when you want to aim your revolver at a zombie coming for you, but because he’s still part of the “environment” you cannot really target the monster. Maybe that’s the way it was supposed to be, but it’s pretty awkward.
When it comes to music, well, let’s just say developers were so proud of their achievement they are selling the soundtrack separately for 4.99 EUR/4.99 USD. I’m not sure if it’s really worth it, but I actually enjoyed every minute of it.
- Gorgeous 3D environments
- Excellent soundtrack
- Beautifully depicted apocalyptic world
- Faulty controls
- Shallow story
- Puzzles are too obvious
- Too short (3-4 hours of gameplay)
Deadlight is an interesting mix of side-scrolling cinematic platformer and survival horror. Some say that if you were able to pair up Limbo and The Walking Dead, then Deadlight would be their natural offspring.
Although full of cliché taken from other zombie games, Deadlight manages to attract players thanks to its gorgeous environments and “dark” pieces of the story. At least that's what made me go on after dying at least a dozen times due to bad controls.
I do recommend Deadlight to fans of the genre, as you can never have enough zombie games. But I must warn you that this one can be very frustrating sometimes due to its clunky controls.
And obviously, if you don’t use a controller and try to play it with keyboard and mouse, prepare for some pain. Now that I think of it, the bad controls may be a "feature" and not poor programming; you decide.