Deadlight (XBLA)

July 31, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In the mid 80s, the world has fallen into ruins. Most of the population has been wiped out and only small pockets of survivors are thought to exist. You take control of a man who lost his family in the chaos, but he continues to push onward with hopes of finding them at some point. After helping the group you’ve been traveling with, you have to trek forward on your own, with plans to meet up with them down the road. Deadlight is a side scrolling puzzle/platform game, you have to navigate the levels with tricky jumps, exploration, and at times combat. This means harrowing platform segments, using the environments to your advantage, and above all else, staying alive. The enemies of Deadlight include the hordes of undead, unpredictable survivors, and the world itself, which has decayed and is always on the brink of collapse. If you want to survive and have a chance to find your family, you will need to be sharp in mind and reflexes.

While zombies have become a frequent sight in video games, few of those games treat them as much more than fodder. The slow, lumbering enemies that you can run circles around, then slaughter by the hundreds. In Deadlight however, the zombies are much more of a threat. You can still outrun them, shoot them, and slash them, but this time around, you simply don’t have the resources to take them all out. The ammo for your gun is scarce, so shooting random zombies is ill advised. If you turn to your fire ax, your stamina will deplete long before you’re able to hack up a pack of zombies. So while combat is sometimes unavoidable, most of the time your best option is to bypass the zombies. You also encounter other survivors, but of course they pose a larger threat than the mindless zombies. Deadlight shines in making you feel vulnerable, even a small group of zombies can spell death and you’ll have a lot of close calls in this game.
The controls in Deadlight had to be razor sharp, given the narrow windows involved in the platform navigation. I found the controls to be excellent, even when split second reactions were needed. I do think some of the animations are cumbersome and can throw off your movement, but that was never a serious concern. I was able to pull off all the required leaps of faith, engage enemies, and avoid the various traps with ease, thanks to the tight, crisp controls. The game’s exploration provides you with chances to find health packs, ammo, and collectibles. You can find remnants of the old ways of life, journal pages, and identification cards. The IDs I found all belonged to serial killers, which added to the game’s dark tone. While exploration is not as deep or involved as Shadow Complex for example, it is fun to track down the hidden stuff and adds some depth to Deadlight.
Deadlight has a good story, great controls, and remarkable visuals, but is the game fun? I had a lot of fun with Deadlight and will be heading back in more than once. The game itself is on the short side, especially if you bypass exploration, but you can unlock mini-games and of course, attempt speed runs and complete runs. The game can be a challenge at times, but most of the time the generous checkpoint system and sharp controls will minimize frustration. I was also glad to find that trial & error style play is at a minimum, so just scan your environment and you should be fine. So on the difficulty front, Deadlight provides a nice balance and most players will emerge frustration free. In the end, Deadlight has all the elements in place and is polished to a high shine, so it is highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

The visual design here is certain to remind players of Limbo, as the visuals are dark and silhouettes are a prominent fixture of the designs. But Deadlight spots a higher level of detail, with backgrounds that show good depth and atmosphere. So while this game is cloaked in darkness, there is more to the visuals that silhouettes and shadows. I think the visuals look excellent and the dark shadows add to the tension, as dangers are often masked within those shadows. The visuals are also very refined and polished, so Deadlight looks terrific.

Audio: How does it sound?

While not as attention grabbing as the visuals, the sound design is also more than competent. The audio is used to enhance the atmosphere of the experience, as well as to ratchet up the tension. The sound effects tend to be on the plain side, but that doesn’t have a negative impact on the game experience. The voice work is quite good, much better than expected in fact. So while not as flashy or explosive as some games, Deadlight’s soundtrack is rock solid.

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