The Xbox Summer of Arcade continues this week with the first game developed by Tequila Works, Deadlight. Deadlight is a side scrolling survival horror which sees you take the role of Randall Wayne as he fights he way through the remains of a post apocalyptic Seattle which is now occupied by hordes of former humans transformed into zombie like beings called Shadows as he tries to find his friends and unravel the mystery of what happened to his wife and daughter.
Entering into a genre which is already heavily populated with classics such as Left 4 Dead as well as the more recent Walking Dead episodes the question is what makes Deadlight stand out from these ? For me the answer to this is the visuals and gameplay. The 2D side scrolling style of gameplay may sound rather retro but it’s what really makes this game a joy to play and makes the game feel fresh and different from the 3D gameplay we are used but also slightly nostalgic. Over the course of three acts you must run, jump and climb across various buildings and obstacles to avoid the lurking Shadows and avoid certain death. Randall seemingly being a parkour expert this is done with great ease as you leap from crane to building however the slightest slip could find you back at group level desperately trying to keep back your Zombie enemy with bullets and your axe. These costly mistakes do happen rather often as the route or platform needed to progress onto is not always obvious and as avoidance rather than combat is the main goal when encountering the Shadows you are quickly overwhelmed on many occasions. This at times may be frustrating but also keeps the game challenging which few games do these days, Deadlight does not spoon feed with objective markers or any other form of aid as you clearly have to just go from left to right but how you progress is for you to work out.
The one aid that is present in the game lies within the visuals. In Deadlight you only see whats necessary once an area is cleared it becomes blacked out therefore if you can see light somewhere then chances are that’s where you should be heading. For me the graphics are the most impressive part of Deadlight. Eventhough it is a 2D game there is still plenty of depth on the screen with Shadows causing chaos both in front of you but also in the backdrop of the Seattle streets. The cutscenes are also displayed via the familiar comic strip style yet which feels relevant to the title as if the story couldn’t have been told any other way unlike some games where cinematography seems more appropriate. Each level also flows directly into the next and without any rooms or areas seemingly copied and pasted, you really feel as if your moving through the city as the more rural landscapes transforms into a backdrop of skyscrapers the deeper within the city you get creating a better understanding of Randall’s journey.
For me the only disappointment with Deadlight is it’s story. In a genre that is so populated you can’t help but feel that you have seen it all before with some things feeling very cliché such as the inevitable helicopter crash or usual trip to a hospital for medical supplies. In a game that feels so fresh and unique in it’s gameplay and visuals you can’t help but wish the story also continued and showed us something we haven’t seen before. Think I Am Legend meets The Walking Dead and you can pretty much guess what the games about.
Overall amongst the wave of 3D shooters and beat-em ups that we are so used Deadlight brings something rather retro in it’s idea but with a very modern feel giving something rather different and unique to play making a nice change to the titles we are currently used to. With challenging but also enjoyable gameplay and very artistic visuals all be it wrapped up in a cliché filled story Deadlight is worth the time of any survival horror fan as well as anyone else looking for something a bit different and for a reasonable 1200msp this is definitely worth a purchase.