H.R. Haggard is a writer best known for his novel King Solomon's Mines
, written in 1885. The protagonist Allan Quatermain starred in a series of books that were set around his adventures in southern Africa as a big game hunter and adventurer. These novels are the inspiration for The Farm 51's first-person shooter/adventure title Deadfall Adventures
. Allan's great-grandson James Lee Quatermain now gets to take part in his own adventure, but is it an adventure worth joining or is it best to leave him to his fate at the hands of the temples' ancient traps?
Years later in 1938, James resents the legacy left by his great-grandfather and finds the Quatermain name more of a curse than a blessing. However, Allan's research is needed by James' former colleague Jennifer Goodwin as she and her agency attempts to recover an ancient artefact, The Heart of Atlantis, from a trap-riddled Egyptian temple. Motivated by the monetary reward, James joins them on the hunt, but they're not alone. Nazi occultists want to find the artefact for their own evil motives, but their efforts have only resulted in awakening an ancient evil that is determined to stop everybody in their tracks. The story is something that could come straight out of an Indiana Jones
film. While this isn't a bad thing, it does give an air of predictability to events.
The main problem is that the lead characters in Indiana Jones
had personalities. Neither lead character in Deadfall Adventures
is really developed in any way. James isn't a likeable man, even though you'll spend around ten hours in his shoes. His one-liners fall flat, something that could be excused with English noticeably not being the developer's native language. You'll likely end up tuning him out. Jennifer isn't even given the chance to shine. Her lines are limited to puzzle hints, the occasional mythical tale, and an often-used jibe at James when she manages to hit something in a gun-fight. On the other hand, the main Nazi character Hagen's lines are delivered in a comedic over-the-top German accent, something that fits rather well with the story, and he gets the most character development of them all. Something went slightly wrong here.
You can have few complaints about the locations though. As we travel from the Egyptian temple to an Arctic wasteland and, finally, the Mayan jungle, the environments look suitably authentic. The urge to explore is encouraged by the need to find treasures. While the environment is certainly not open and is sometimes tempered by the presence of invisible walls, it is not completely linear either. Hidden rooms and corridors are worth finding to see if they contain goodies. Armed with a treasure-seeking compass and, sometimes, a treasure map, you go looking for three types of treasures from the Paths of Life, Light and Warrior. These are used to upgrade James' overall health and stamina, as well as skills with his weapon and his torch (more on this later). You'll need to find the vast majority of the treasures if you want to fully level up your character, but these upgrades seem to make little difference to his performance. If you miss more treasures than you should, repeating the chapters a second time may not be worth it.
Access to the treasures and your progression forward is often blocked by a puzzle that needs solving. The puzzles are the game's best feature, although with James' inability to climb, leap over walls or swim, they're usually in the form of opening a door or disarming a trap through the use of levers or pressure pads. The reason for bringing along great-grandfather's research is that he had made notes on all of the places that you will be visiting. Displayed in James' notebook, these notes can range from giving you the answer to the puzzle to just giving hints to point you in the right direction. While most of the hints make it perfectly clear on how to solve a puzzle, there is the rare occasion where hints and solution are so far removed from each other that the link can't be made. These puzzles then devolve into methodical button pressing until you stumble upon the solution. Again, the real satisfaction from the puzzles comes from searching for treasures. Hints are rarely given in these instances, so you are truly left on your own to figure out how to retrieve your reward. Puzzle aficionados will enjoy the challenge.
This game has been advertised as a first-person shooter with action-adventure elements, but the emphasis on shooter is not accurate. Throughout the first few levels of the campaign, battles are few and far between. This is good because shooting is the weakest part of the game. There are a wide range of weapons from the 1930's time period but there is little difference in the way that they handle. Aiming is satisfactory, although players need to get used to pressing LT once to aim down the sights and then pressing it again to return to hip fire. There is little recoil and accuracy is easy to maintain. Unfortunately, killing human enemies can be inconsistent. While one shot is enough to kill one enemy, an identical human could need half a magazine to kill. This isn't helped by near-identical death and downed animations. An enemy that you thought was dead will suddenly get to their feet again, making progress forward more challenging.
Undead enemies are more predictable but require a different strategy. To make these enemies vulnerable to bullets, you must first heat them up with James' final tool in his arsenal, an Alan Wake
-style torch. While human enemies will stick to cover and rarely move forward, undead enemies will press towards James without fear. With the added element of having to break down their defences before being able to damage them, a horde of the undead can feel like a genuine threat -- a threat not felt while battling the human element. So that you are not entirely relying on weapons, traps placed throughout levels can also be used to provide a fun method of slowing enemies down or killing them. Giant flamethrowers never get old, but don't get in their way unless you want to die.
The co-op Survival mode is the obligatory horde mode that is now included in virtually every game. Up to four players can tackle ever-increasing waves of enemies, with ammo drops and weapons awarded for success. Players who attempt the mode on their own will find themselves moving from ammo drop to ammo drop while replenishing their meagre supply of bullets. The competitive multiplayer modes add the usual range of deathmatch and objective based modes, both for teams and individuals. The unlock system awards character skins and new weapons and attempts to engage players after the game's launch period. However, with gunplay being a weaker part of the game, all of the modes have been done better elsewhere and I can't see an active community lasting for very long. These modes feel like they were tacked on purely for the sake of adding multiplayer elements to the game.
The game's achievements are conveniently colour-coded depending on their purpose. Non-avoidable campaign achievements are red and total 375G. Missable campaign achievements are green and make up 150G. All are linked to puzzles or events that need to be solved to gain access to treasures. With the ability to repeat chapters at any time from the Adventure menu, it is easy to go back and retrieve these if they were missed initially. The collectable treasure achievements are in yellow and total 85G. There are plenty of treasures throughout the game for players to be able to get these easily without obsessing over the collectables. The main challenge will be the multiplayer achievements, which are orange and total 390G. While some can be gained within a single match, achievements like Gunsmith
will require a lot of grinding. There are a total of 18 weapons, each with five upgrades, and 100 kills are needed to even unlock the first upgrade on each weapon. Only the most dedicated will achieve the full gamerscore in this title.
While this game is not going to lead the way as a AAA example of its genre, the lack of polish can be overlooked for a fun, pulp magazine-inspired romp through the 1930's wilderness. If the character development was better, there would be little to complain about in terms of the story. Puzzle solving dominates the game with shooting falling into second place; as the former feels satisfying, if a little hit-or-miss at times, and the latter is done to a better degree in other games. Unfortunately, the tacked-on multiplayer could end up being the game's biggest downfall. An active community is unlikely to exist soon after the game's release. The money put into the creation of these modes would have been better used in polishing the campaign.The reviewer played all game modes, including completing the campaign in full on normal puzzle difficulty and normal combat difficulty. Her efforts garnered 31 out of 46 achievements. The review copy was provided by Nordic Games.