Deadlight is the third installment in Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade campaign. It is a side-scrolling survival horror game and I was really excited for it prior to it’s release, here is my verdict.
Deadlight starts off in 1986 Seattle after a viral outbreak that turns the dead into the walking dead (or Shadows as they are referred to in-game). You are put in control of Randall Wayne, a victim to the outbreak who has joined a group of survivors. It is revealed very early on that Randall has lost his wife Shannon and his daughter Lydia during the outbreak, so your main goal is to find them!
The story is Deadlight’s most exceptional feature. From start to finish I was left guessing at the plot line and it really does take you on a roller coaster of emotion, if not for the sometimes lacking dialogue it genuinely would have been one of the best story lines to a game I have played in a long time.
Survival is the key aspect in this game, it is absolutely paramount. I liked the tension this created in the game, a lot of the time when faced with Shadows I was literally on the edge of my seat!
The gameplay is very simple yet tricky to master. A is jump, B is melee (only when you actually find a weapon!) Y to taunt (used to manipulate Shadows whereabouts to your advantage) and RB is sprint. The game actually takes place in a 2D format but there is also a 3D aspect in the form of Shadows approaching you. By this I mean, they are in the background and then they cross into the 2D playing zone and wreak havoc. It has a very Prince of Persia feel to it and a lot of the gameplay revolves around traversing rooms/landscapes via jumping and running. The jumping works very well and when coupled with the numerous puzzles it really can be challenging. The combat however is very unforgiving. This is mainly due to the fact mentioned in the previous paragraph, it’s a SURVIVAL horror game, not a zombie killing game! Most of the time if you are left facing even 2 zombies without a gun you will die! Evasion is the best tactic by running and jumping past the Shadows, as you only have 3 little bars of health and each strike from a Shadow consumes 1! Although your health bar can be upgraded twice throughout the game even 5 isn’t enough to challenge the Shadows.
Your HUD consists of a health bar (3 segments) and a stamina bar. Both are pretty self explanatory, the only thing that needs mentioning is that the stamina bar is used up whilst attacking.
The lifespan of the game was the biggest shocker for me. I had clocked around an hour and a half as I came on to Act 3 and 10 minutes later I was finished. Sorry if that is a spoiler but I don’t think that will be the main thing you are worried about upon completion. 1 hour and 40 minutes. In my opinion that is wholly unacceptable for a game, even if it did only cost £10. One thing it did offer though to combat this is a Collectibles system. ID’s found on bodies throughout the game and also missing pages from Randall’s diary, which do make a good read. Thankfully the collectibles are interesting enough to make you want to play through again and find them all as otherwise the length would have been too far.
Deadlight’s graphics really did it for me, I loved the gloomy feel it gave and it really did give the impression of a desolate wasteland where hope of survival is minimal. The cut-scenes take on a cell shaded comic book style and these are also great, not only at putting across the excellent story, but creating the desired atmosphere.
The sound throughout the game is a very mixed bag. The music and environmental noises make for a chilling experience, always doing well to create a terrifying atmosphere. The voice acting, on the other hand, is absolutely catastrophic, not only are the lines badly written for dialogue they’re also very badly said.
I didn’t really have any problems with Deadlight and it’s gameplay apart from sometimes the difficulty spike in certain areas was a bit ridiculous and on occasion Randall wouldn’t jump where I wanted him to. Other than those rare times though it is a very solidly built game.
The Bottom Line.
To conclude I had high hopes for Deadlight and in most ways I wasn’t disappointed, the storyline was brilliant, the feel of the game was very scary and tense and the gameplay was absolutely solid 99% of the time! Unfortunately I just could not overlook the fact that the game took me only 1 and a half hours to complete, despite the collectibles making it tempting to play through twice the length of the game is still far from acceptable. I wouldn’t say it’s great value for the 1200 microsoft points but if you do have it spare and you don’t mind short games it is very very compelling and intense.
Gameplay: 10 – Excellent, exactly the kind that is needed to make a good survival horror game, massive emphasis on survival.
Longevity: 4 – An hour and a half to complete the game is mind-boggling, collectibles do save it a bit but still very short.
Graphics: 9 – Loved the graphics, ideal for creating a horror-inducing atmosphere which is just what Deadlight required.
Sound: 6 – Great soundtrack but bad voice acting, unfortunate because the voice acting really could have made it that bit more special!
Accessibility: 2 – Easy to come to grips with, everything is well explained.
Presentation: 2 – The HUD is simple and just what is needed, all you need to know is delivered in a clear and precise manner.
Immersion: 2 – Story is phenomenal, that is all that needs to be said.
Innovation: 1 – Not a new concept, the zombie survival genre is very common nowadays but Deadlight really delivers it’s own spin on it and does it very well.
Deadlight – 8.1/10
This review is based upon a release copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game. Deadlight was provided by Microsoft Studios for review purposes.