Deadlight is a sidescrolling survival horror cinematic platformer game for Xbox Live Arcade developed by Tequila Works and published by Microsoft Studios. Set in a 1986 apocalyptic world where existence is futile a solitary man called Mr. Wayne treks the American west coast looking for his family and, ultimately, a safe zone.
The reviewer completed the game in around 4 hours and then spent half an hour or so messing around in the mini games. Level design overall was very good and it is obvious thought has been put into the game as each chapter involves visiting different environments with fresh challenges. The title and in game music is also nice, the reviewer left the title music running whilst composing this review and is considering purchasing the sound track. Graphics are also fresh and slick. Enemies take two forms, the living and the dead but there are no mini bosses. Puzzles are varied with some requiring the player to move shelves across a doorway and prevent zombies from entering the room or to reach a shelf just out of jumping height. Later ones are quite long and require multiple attempts to figure out due to the lack of instructions or any obvious indications.
There are several pickups located around the level which the player can collect by looting from bodies, opening boxes or med kits. These pickups take the form of lost diary pages which fill out Mr. Wayne’s history, ID cards of various serial killers, med kits to restore lost health, weapons, health and stamina expanders and finally handheld games. These small handheld games are in fact small mini games which the player can control via their handheld controller. The reviewer could not find any evidence of these being based on real titles from 1986, a fact which did not detract from the fun of playing them.
Weapons in this game take the form of a fire axe, handgun, shotgun and slingshot. Eventually the player is able to switch between them using the D-pad button. Each weapon requires stamina to either swing or reload with the game shaking and turning black and white when the stamina is running low. The axe does not require aiming and can be swung in a broad arch or used to push zombies away by pressing B. The other weapons, however, have to be aimed using the right thumb stick and then fired by pulling the right trigger. The game helpfully makes this process easier by indicating where a bullet will strike a valid target with a red cross. Ammo is rarely in plentiful supply for this game and as such the player is forced to rely on brains instead of an itchy trigger finger. Being able to shoot at zombies or humans to lure them off ledges or into traps is a nice touch.
The first item which lost this game a point was the glaring number of bugs currently present. These include, black solid objects appearing in the middle of the screen blocking the camera and sometimes causing the player to miss platforms, which could prove fatal. These glitches could also lead to previous zones, causing the player to plummet through the floor to fall endlessly. Reload time. Finally an ‘Award cannot be unlocked’ error which the reviewer has seen appear in other reviews so it is not a local issue. A check of the achievements does not reveal what the game is trying to unlock as none ties with the specific area of the game. The reviewer accepts catching all bugs before release is difficult and time consuming but obvious bugs like these really should have been caught.
Another point was deducted for the occasional slow response when attempting to fight enemies or jump in order to solve puzzles requiring precision landings. If a zombie managed to close on a player the game would perform actions completely different than what was being pressed on the controller, somewhat funny on the first occurrence but annoying after losing health or lives. The reviewer considers these two points completely unacceptable due to the fact he was playing the game off the Xbox’s hard drive not a flash game in a browser over an internet connection.
The last point was deducted because when enemies got too close, roughly an axe length away, and the player chose to fight, axe blows or bullets magically passed through them. Again, annoying when the reviewer was tackled to the ground and killed because the game did not respond to button presses. This became even more frustrating when occurring just after enemies wondered out of the background into the foreground just in front or behind the player. It could be argued one should not actually let the enemy get close in the first place and thus this is a fault of the reviewer, but due to the game’s design it is almost impossible to prevent this from happening - especially later on in the game. Dying in such a cheap fashion can lead to the feeling of success from solving a puzzle being lost.
Overall the reviewer thinks Deadlight is suitable for people who enjoy platform games but not for those who are new to the genre. The storyline is average but proceeds at a good pace.