by Quinn Levandoski, reviewed on
Full of pulp adventure clichés
Deadfall Adventures embraces its inspiration entirely, weaving together a story chalked full of every pulp adventure cliché under the sun. Mysteriously awoken supernatural evil? Check. Booby-trapped ruins peppered with collectable treasure? Yep. Gruff anti-hero who is just as quick with a six-shooter as he is with a gruff, charming comeback? You bet. Nordic Games puts players in the boots of tough guy James Quatermain, descendant of famous literary adventurer Allan Quatermain, and tasks them with embarking on a classically-inspired tale of adventure and mystery. For the most part the intentional over-the-top-ness and general cheese-ball feel of the game works. I loved that it didn’t pull any punches in the name of seeming “smarter” or more “gritty” than it had to be. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie, and that’s exactly how it should be.
Unfortunately, however, there were also times that the game was a victim of its own dedication. I realize that Nazis and relics and ancient temples are staples of the genre, but by failing to wander outside of these classic ingredients the game’s story fails to leave any kind of impression, positive or negative. The fact that it is difficult for me, as I’m writing this, to recall the specifics of what the different artifacts were, why I needed them, and who the various characters were is a testament of the rather “blah”-ness of it all. To put it shortly there were some relics that needed to be gathered to find the Heart of Atlantis, and Quartermain et al. need to fight through Nazis, mummies, zombie things, and more to get them and do what they need to do. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the story isn’t what is going to keep you going. It isn’t bad. I never found myself actively disappointed or angered with the story, I was just never invested in it as anything but an excuse to move from one area to the next.
Perhaps one of the reason that the story lacked gravitas was that I just didn’t care about any of the characters. But Quinn, didn’t you just get done saying that you loved how the game didn’t try to make itself more than a fun pulp-adventure romp? I did, and I realize part of that genre includes overly-manly adventurers and “we’re evil just because we’re Nazis” bad guys, but anyone who’s read an Allan Quatermain novel, watched Indiana Jones, or played Uncharted can attest that these don’t mean characters can’t be dynamic and possess intriguingly complex personalities. James Quatermain is one note through and through, and while it works sometimes, eventually he just started to grate on me. I love witty, gruff one-liners in the face of certain death as much as the next guy, but it is nice when they are counterbalanced by quality dialogue and some deeper personality in other situations. I never got that here, as James just spouts one-liner after one-liner ad infinitum.
Along with his sometimes-funny sometimes-annoying dialogue it is worth mentioning that I found his voice actor to be extremely inconsistent. At times, and it seems like these times become more and more the majority as the game continues, he does a great job. He’s definitely got vocal chords that sound like they have blended gravel. Sometimes though, and seemingly randomly, his “acting,” or the believability, just plummets down to terrible. One moment he will deliver a line with the cocky gravitas it deserves, only to sound like the next line is being read off a script for the very first time. I’m not sure of the reasoning, but it really pulled me out of the game on a number of occasions. Other characters fall anywhere from serviceable to barely-decent (some of the accents, in particular, are pretty terrible).
Dedicates itself to its pulp adventure roots, beautiful environments, and cool paranormal enemies.
Flat characters and plot, inconsistent voice acting, and serviceable but ultimately forgettable puzzles and shooting mechanics.