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Review

Deadlight Review

  • First Released
    released
  • Reviewed
  • X360

Deadlight draws you in with its rich, pervasive atmosphere, but doesn't give you much to do once you're there.

Deadlight is the moody journey of a troubled man struggling to find his family in the zombie-ravaged remains of civilization. Shadowed foregrounds and illuminated backgrounds help create an engrossing visual style, and the detailed environments makes you want to explore this world further. But atmosphere is more substantial than action in Deadlight. While some combat situations provide flickers of excitement, the bulk of your time is spent performing the same basic actions in rudimentary, repetitive situations. This lack of complexity dilutes the pleasure of this all-too-brief adventure, making Deadlight an alluringly dark, but disappointingly shallow experience.

Things aren't going so great for Randall Wayne (or the rest of humanity, for that matter). He is separated from his wife and daughter, and the survivors he was sheltering with were forced to flee without him. And so you embark on a lonely trek, accompanied only by Randall's introspective musings. As you progress and pick up small items in the environment, he talks about his family, his situation, the world as it was, and the nature of humanity. Randall has an appealing roughness about him, but he is hampered by inconsistent writing and uneven voice acting. Oddly phrased and awkwardly delivered lines keep his character from coalescing into a sympathetic protagonist., but he is nonetheless a suitable guide through this grim landscape.

It's not the people in Deadlight that draw you in, however, it's the world they inhabit. The deep foreground shadows stand out starkly against the dingy, detailed backgrounds. Though all of the action plays out on a 2D plane, the environments have a rich depth of field that enhances the illusion of a 3D world. Rooms dim and illuminate as you progress and the camera zooms in and out, adding some cinematic flair. A few neat visual tricks pep up the story, while lithe animations energize Randall and his enemies. These artistic elements work in harmony to make Deadlight a visually compelling game.

Unfortunately, the gameplay is not nearly as dynamic. It starts off fine as you clamber over fences, jump out of windows, and sneak through vents on your way through this ruined world. You move the occasional box and flip the odd switch, but progress is mostly a simple matter of figuring out how to move from point A to point B. There are some moments in which you must contend with finicky controls, but these rough edges are only an occasional nuisance.

The deeper problem becomes apparent as you continue on your journey. There is usually just one way to get out of a given room, and your course is often charted with tiny white arrows or glowing objects. A few out-of-the-way niches hide collectibles and the satisfaction of straying from the main path, but substantial detours are very rare. Linearity isn't inherently negative, but performing the same few moves to progress down a clearly marked path doesn't hold its appeal for long. Furthermore, the simple environmental puzzles consist only of the most basic actions, so figuring out and executing your next move is almost never a challenge. It's not long before you're just going through the same motions you've performed dozens of times before, and Deadlight starts to feel repetitive and flat.

Don't shoot until you see the vacant, vicious reds of their eyes.

When zombies get involved, the action gets a bit livelier. Avoiding them is your first and best tactic, so you learn to lure them into advantageous positions. Tempting zombies to gather below a ledge you are standing on lets you easily jump over them, and baiting the abominations into a pit or a trap is a great way to clear your path. These solutions are clearly telegraphed in many cases, however, so you rarely get the satisfaction of coming up with them on your own. Sometimes there is no other option but to simply be faster than them, which adds a welcome sense of urgency to your actions.

If you are beset, fighting can keep you alive and gain you some room to escape, providing you have a weapon handy. Randall can swing an axe as long as he has the stamina, but it can take most of your energy to knock down a zombie for the killing blow, so don't expect to chop your way through the shambling hordes. You also get firearms for part of the game (and the shooting animation is delightfully gory), but the ratio of available bullets to lurching zombies usually doesn't work in your favor. It's nice that Deadlight cultivates combat as a last resort, because it encourages you to think of other options.

Unfortunately, there are never many options in Deadlight, and it's usually obvious which one best fits your current scenario. In the three or so hours that it takes to complete the game, you feel less like you are trekking through a dangerous world, and more like you are acting out a script. Deadlight's engrossing visuals make it fun to play the part, but you'll wish you had more lines.

Interested in a few tips and hidden secrets? Check out our Ten Tweetable Tips for Deadlight and make the ruined Northwest a little more hospitable.

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The Good
Bewitching visual artistry
Some enjoyably tense moments
The Bad
Rudimentary environmental puzzles
Uneven voice acting
6.5
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
0 comments
PyreofKoL
PyreofKoL

Picked this up a few days ago through a Humble Bundle. I've surprised with how much I've enjoyed it. Wasn't sure the combination of the zombie cliche and platforming would do, but it created a really entertaining package. I definitely agree with the unbalanced voice acting. The main character can be particularly annoying. 

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

Seriously underrated game! I don't know why it got such a low score. It's only three hours long, yes, but it's an indie title for little money now. And the stunning visuals, the really good voice-acting of Wayne and the atmosphere really make a good game.

Johny_47
Johny_47

A friend bought this for me when it was in the easter sale on steam and I was shocked at how short it is, really good review and I agree. 


Two other things I really don't like though is Randal can't swim(quite pathetic) and his stamina is absolute rubbish when swinging the axe, it's like he wants to die =P


I know it's to make it harder and for you to fight as you last option but it makes it linear and annoying sometimes. I used a xbox controller to play through and I thought the controls were off at times, got Randal killed a phew times too.


I'm just glad it was on sale or it wouldn't have been anywhere near worth the full price. Could have been a much better game and that's the biggest shame.

I-Am-Alive
I-Am-Alive

Quite strange - got 8.5 on IGN and the voice acting according to them was actually Good and not a weakness.

iowastate
iowastate

there are zombies so it can't be all bad xD

Elann2008
Elann2008

I love this game.  One of my favorite 2-D platformers.  

Kickable
Kickable

this looks like it could be awesome in a lot of ways despite being a simple game.  maybe it will be for me just saying, in response to number rating.  still going to play it

cheenyx
cheenyx

This is a good game to be enjoyed instead of digging for the minor flaws in it. At least there are no games in this direction for now, and I was so frustrated with all those first person shooters in current generation consoles only to prove its visual eye-candy. Check out this another Indie side-scroller:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li5EJ1-c7j0 

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

Aarragagh!

These numbers assigned to a game by some random person are concrete evidence that the game is as good or bad as they say it is!

Zulu1Tango
Zulu1Tango

Haven't played the game yet. From what most people are saying, it sounds like it should at least be a 7 to 7.5...kind of mixed reviews from people. Either way don't think I'll pay more then 800 MSP for this game.

wrestlingdude
wrestlingdude

I'll take IGN's 8.5 rating over this B.S.  If you only have two positives and negatives for this review, then it's clear to say this review is "incomplete." This is the "Laziest" review I've ever read.  IGN's 8.5 score out weighs Gamespot's pitiful review.

keyb0red
keyb0red

was hoping this would be another Limbo .. apparently not.

noeway
noeway

sure is not going to beat limbo

notserbamma
notserbamma

That's good, because I was starting to feel bad about selling my 360 after I beat Shadow Complex. But if this game doesn't live up to its visuals, I guess I'm not missing out on anything.

krunkfu2
krunkfu2

The game is good, but definitely not worth the price. I already beat it yesterday and don't really have reason to play through it again. :/

strahd01
strahd01

Anything over 6 is good for me. People miss out on good game due to average reviews

Maelsthur
Maelsthur

I liked, gameplay and story is absolutely interesting, better than many arcade games of this year indeed, if you wanna buy some arcade game this is a great choice. Play the demo if you have doubt.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

I've played about 2 hours of it, and much like the film 28 Days Later, just about EVERYTHING takes a backseat to the atmosphere in this one. That said, it is a really sharp and effective presentation. The gameplay is run of the mill Another World/Prince of Persia flair, but so far I haven't found it to be repetitive as the reviewer here says. The scenarios usually require simple logic to get through, but I honestly can't see how many people would find themselves unengaged, especially wrapped in the thick aesthetic the game offers.

 

It might not be a "mind bender" like Limbo or FEZ, but I personally wasn't that impressed with the gameplay in those either. At least check out the demo. Deadlight is a good effort, and is worth at least a look in my opinion.

Witchsight
Witchsight

Shadow Complex and Limbo? Looks very cool.

e6compass
e6compass

Should I be surprised? I think not.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

The headline sort of sums up just about every game released this year so far. Compared to 2011, 2012 isn't going so well.

lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

This is just one person's point of view and it does not necessarily reflect what others may think it is worth. I think it is worth a try especially if MS offers a demo so that the customer can  make a informed decision without buying it and if by chance dislike then you are stuck with it. However, there are so many games that is written in the vein as this one.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

limbo+guns and violence? (even the length is similliar...)

toshineon
toshineon

6.5 only? Oh yeah... it isn't made by EA, that must be it.

DemonGoliath
DemonGoliath

Damn.  I guess Dust: An Elysian Tail it is.

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

I'm still getting it, it looks fantastic and I know I'll enjoy it

xbox360chabge
xbox360chabge

This child gave Spec Ops The LIne 6.5. Don`t listen him, try it yourself.

SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

sucks i dont have an xbox cause this is one beautiful looking game.

 

and btw gamespot is a REALLY tough grade, so a 6.5 is like an 8.5 from IGN. Oh wait, i think IGN really did give this game an 8.5 !!!! another game to prove my theory...  IGN overrates the ever loving s*** out of games. 

NewShire
NewShire

Damn, Chris Watters is a really good writer.

pauldevette
pauldevette

When wil it be playable in europe? I have been waiting for this game for ever and now i cant play. THIS SUCKS

Ar13ls
Ar13ls

don't judge your opinion on one review people, IGN gave it a really good mark and most reviews on Metacritic are favorable too. I'll buy it for sure since this kind of game is not too expensive and it ranges in my tastes.

 

It's also cool that they always have a trial version to make an opinion of your own before buying.

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

Is that Ashley Wood in charge of the cutscenes? It looks like his work.

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

Looks scripted indeed; which is unfortunate. This game had so much potential I feel. The visuals draw me in and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. The sound seems really great, from the water crashing to him firing rounds off.

 

I still think I'll give it go once I get a 360 again. Thanks for the review Chris.

 

 

AJC3317
AJC3317

this was the only game that looked at all interesting for the "summer of arcade", so this is disappointing

Chronosknight
Chronosknight

That's a shame. I had just discovered this game recently and it looked more promising than this.

Deadlight (2012) More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    Deadlight is a cinematic action puzzle platformer from Tequila Works set in the American west coast in an apocalyptic world.
    7.3
    Average Rating394 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Deadlight (2012)
    Developed by:
    Tequila Works
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genre(s):
    Platformer, Action, 2D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language