Monday, February 24, 2014

First Impressions: Deadlight (PC)

Deadlight is a game that I bought last December during Steam's Winter non-denomination-take-all-my-money-Sale partly because it was on sale but mainly because I liked what the trailer was promising.  True, I am a sucker for a good zombie/post-apocalyptic video game and even though the title conjures up images of spiders attacking elementary school kids, but what is contained within is something far more enjoyable and beautiful.

Deadlight is currently the only game developed by Tequila Works and was originally available over the Xbox Live Arcade back in 2012 and, surprise-surprise, I had not heard about it until I saw it on Steam during their aforementioned December Sale.  So one night last week, I decided that I wanted to play a game that contained zombies since I had just watched Zombieland earlier in the evening.

Okay, so Deadlight is, in it's purest form a platformer.  There are puzzle elements, such as how to get from point A to point B with a mass of writhing live wires separating you from point C.  And there are zombies, called "Shadows" here, frequently chasing after you or lurking in the background and approaching the foreground.  The game is presented in 2D, with elements in the distance that you cannot interact with, but frequently you will see Shadows "wake up" and walk towards you and then become interactable once they reach your position in the foreground.  How is that description not confusing?

With the game being a platformer, I would recommend using a controller to play.  The game is set up for both controller or keyboard, but I do not think that keyboards are the best especially when it comes to running, jumping and semi-precise movements in a 2D side scrolling level.  To note, I have not tried using the keyboard so I am just making the assumption that the game would be rather difficult and frustrating, but that's just my unscientific opinion.

The setting for the game is something else that piqued my interest.  First, it takes place in Seattle, WA, which I am able to relate to regionally.  Secondly, the game takes place in 1986.  That's right, 28 years ago.  I have yet to find out if the year is an integral part to the storyline or if it was simply chosen because it is an unconventional thing for a zombie apocalypse game created in the two-aught-tens.  During the first chapter, there is nothing that screams Reaganomics in the same way that Gone Home screamed TGIF, The X-Files and jr. high for me.

The voice acting is pretty decent in that some lines are delivered well while others sound like they are being read straight off of the page.  The music is pretty atmospheric and provides the perfect amount of creepiness while not trying to overpower the player with themes, at least that I have noticed.  There are times when the music becomes more dramatic, but to me that is just good composing as it is appropriate for what is happening in the game.

Lastly, I really like the different art styles used througout game.  For in-game, you have beautiful scenes of desolation as you run horizontally through the ruins of Seattle.  Occasionally you are treated to a flashback where the bleak "present" is contrasted with the colorful green and living world of the past.  Then for the interspersed cut scenes, you are treated to still images that look like they could have been taken out of a minimally colored issue of The Walking Dead.

After playing Deadlight for roughly two hours, I am really enjoying everything about the game.  The platforming action is just enough that while I sometimes die, I can usually figure out what it is that I am supposed to do.  In one section I had to look up what to do on youtube because I was an idiot and forgot that I could jump over traps (yes, there are traps, but their existence in the game world makes sense).  The challenge is the perfect level that the game remains to be a lot of fun while not being so easy that I feel that there is no challenge.

I do not see this game lasting more than 10 hours, even with copious amounts of dying and restarting from checkpoints and that would be the perfect amount of time that I would want to spend in this world.  Of course I say that now, but come the end of the game, I may just want to return for a second round to collect slips of paper, trinkets from the past and other story elements that I may have missed the first time through.


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