by Zee Salahuddin
reviewed on PC
A Plethora of Mechanics (cntd)
The mutual existence of constant displays of upper body strength, and lack thereof made no sense to me. Additionally, you can swing the axe into the head of an approaching zombie, and violently slam it into the ground, but that will not kill it. However, swing your axe at a downed zombie’s feet, and its head will magically roll off, permanently killing the zombie.
There are several other minor mechanics that can combine with the aforementioned elements to create some very interesting scenarios. For example, you can sprint into a barrier, and break through it with a shoulder slam. You can call out to unaware zombies to get them to focus on your location, possibly triggering some trap in the process. You reload one bullet at a time into the revolver. So if you are pressed for time, the reload process can be significantly faster, depending on how many rounds you need to chamber.
Jumping, Running, Gunning
The platforming is where the game truly shines. Developers Tequila Works have crafted a very intelligent series of obstacles and puzzles for the player to traverse. Regardless of what the current threat may be, zombies fuel the desperation in the situation. They break in from vents up above, through barriers, from behind closed doors, and rise up from a state of rigor mortis. They are everywhere, their numbers are legion, and you are on the menu.
Several puzzles will be a race against time, where you try to get a sequence of objects and events in order that allow you to both survive and proceed. You will see the world in a whole different manner, as a carefully crafted 2D restriction is imposed on a fully crafted 3D world. This also implies that zombies can exist in 3D space. You can see a zombie in the background coming straight towards you (and your avatar Randall), but until it gets to the same 2D plane as Randall, you cannot attack it. This is a hair-raising experience that has been cleverly exploited by the developers to create terrifying chase sequences. There are elements where you try to run past a point which you can see will be overrun by zombies shuffling in from the background.
The platforming, though almost always stellar in design and execution, seems a little forced in a few locations. The sections involving the Rat’s challenges seem forced and disjointed from the story. It is almost as if someone in the developer pen came up with some cool new platforming sequences, and decided to force-feed it into the game, even when it had nothing logical to do with the story.
Eye See Candy
This game is breathtakingly gorgeous. The game uses the Unreal engine, and every crevice, every last corner of the world is painted by meticulous, detail-oriented hands. On my second playthrough, I noticed elements in the background that I had never noticed before. It is incredible to see the attention to detail that the level designers possess to create a world about the undead seem to full of life and character. My second playthrough was in Nightmare mode, which has no checkpoints, so you have to be extra-cautious about every step and curse every misstep.
In your first playthrough, like me, I would imagine you will notice very few of the details. This is mostly because your eyes are glued to the swarm of zombies vying to feast on your brains that evening, or because you are desperately searching for that life-saving ledge to climb on or vent that you can crawl into, or because that helicopter is raining death down upon you. The world is amazingly detailed, and a true accomplishment for the studio.
Deadlight is a game about running. Running from zombies, humans and helicopters, running from your past, for your friends, and into predictable dead-ends. It is a beautifully constructed world, filled with spectacle, populated by interesting (albeit short-lived) characters, and powered by intelligent platforming. It could have been a classic, but some nonsensical plot twists, one strange mechanic, loose controls and artificially inflated platforming segments hold it back. For a world about the undead, this title sure is a breath of new life for the genre though.
Beautifully crafted world, solid platforming, terrifying chase sequences, intriguing world, epic protagonist beard.
Hollow plot details and odd twists, shoddy upper body strength mechanic, forced platforming in some parts.