Deadlight Reviews

638,438 (386,606)
TA Score for this game: 609
Posted on 01 August 12 at 19:11
This review has 37 positive votes and 13 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Originally posted at

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Developer: Tequila Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Price: 1200MSP

Ahh the 80’s - famous for bad hair styles, over the top clothing, giant mobile phones and the zombie uprising. Oh hang on, maybe not the last one unless you’re playing Deadlight. Yep, it’s time to go back in time and survive the zombie apocalypse once again but this time in the era that time tried to forget.

The story revolves around Randall Wayne, a forest ranger, who has been split from his family and has travelled to Seattle to try and find them in what is reported to be the last safe place in America. As you can imagine though this is not going to be that easy as there are tons of Shadows (as we all know the term zombie is SO last year!) and Randall has to jump, climb and fight his way through the undead masses to try and find his wife and daughter.

The gameplay itself is very reminiscent of Another World, the cult classic from the early 90’s, as well as visually. You play from a side-on view of the world but much like the recent Shadow Complex there is plenty of detail going on in both the background and foreground as well. The main portion of the game will have you guiding Randall through the landscape climbing around and jumping from platform to platform to continue on but more importantly avoiding the Shadows which swarm everywhere.

The combat in the game leans towards the realistic approach and as such Randall can hold his own against a single Shadow (and with the aid of guns 3-4 at most) but against large groups he has to use his smarts to overcome them by using the environment to trap or kill them. In most situations though you’ll find the best option is just to run as fast as you can away from the horde!

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The challenge in the game comes from the puzzles you have to solve to progress through the stages and although most of them revolve around pulling levers and moving blocks there is enough variety that it never becomes dull, though the short length of the game helps that. The difficulty is nicely balanced so that the answer is never completely obvious but after a good check of your surroundings it become clear what your’e meant to do.

There are a few downsides though. The controls can sometimes be a bit clunky and non-responsive, especially the sprint button which can be temperamental at times. This wouldn’t be a problem but when some jumps have to be almost pixel perfect it can be annoying to continually miss the platform you’re aiming at just because you thought you were sprinting when you weren’t.

As I’ve also mentioned the game isn’t the longest either. It took me about 4 hours to finish the main game off and then a couple more hours tops to mop up all the achievements, however I still fully enjoyed the experience and the story was neatly tied together by the end of it so the short length probably helps support the game in many ways. I think a longer game would have just resulted in the feeling of everything being dragged out.

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Visually the game is very striking. The majority of the game you will spend as a silhouette against the background in a similar style to Limbo but the world around is much more detailed with plenty going on around you, such as Shadows bursting through windows and helicopters flying around in the sky. It gives a real feel of oppressiveness and if you were going to compare it to anything it would be the same bleak apocalyptic feel that the Walking Dead TV series has developed. Speaking of the Walking Dead its worth pointing out that the majority of cutscenes are presented as an moving comic drawn in a style reminiscent of the Walking Dead comics.

The audio is very reminiscent of the 80’s with some great 80’s style action movie music in the more dramatic scenes. I’ve read several people complain about the voice acting but I personally found nothing wrong with it and it helped carry the story along nicely. True some of it was a bit hammy but this is the 80’s and well everyone was hammy in the 80’s.

A nice addition to the game are the collectibles and Randall’s Diary, which I would recommend reading before starting the game as it gives a lot of back story to the game. As Randall travels throughout Seattle he will find missing diary pages (no I’m not sure how they ended up somewhere he’d never been before either!) as well as various mementos and ID cards.

The mementos are a great addition as they make the world feel more alive as these are often people’s personal items and it gives you a glimpse of the other people who used to live there. But my personal favourite are the ID cards. Originally I thought they were the developers until I spotted a Bundy, Gacy and a Dahmer among them. Yep, Tequila Studios have killed off pretty much every serial killer and famous criminal who would have been alive in the 80’s. It’s a great touch and I actually looked forward to finding the next one and seeing who the criminal was! Also hidden away are three old school LCD handheld games to collect and play which will bring back fond memories of any who remember these.

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The game is not a difficult one to max either. I managed 245GS on my first playthrough and it didn’t take me long after to max it. The main achievement that will hold you back is the dreaded collectibles but not only are they’re hiding places are relatively easy to spot but the scene selection screen will tell you exactly how many you are missing so you can find them quicker.

Overall this is a great game and will certainly give you a good experience while it lasts. However the clunky controls and pixel perfect jumps can be frustrating (be warned the second act is by far the worst for this) and hold this back from being awesome. However this is a game with a great tale to tell and a superb world to explore, full of detail which brings it to life. I for one hope to see Tequila Works re-visit the Deadlight Universe in the future as I’m eager to find out more. At 1200MSP it is a bit pricey for its length but I still think it’s worth the asking price. If it becomes a Deal of the Week though you’d be a fool to pass on it.

Overall 8/10
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90,756 (53,833)
TA Score for this game: 609
Posted on 28 December 12 at 20:07, Edited on 10 April 13 at 05:50
This review has 22 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Deadlight: In the Shadow of Something Greater

It's the 1980's. Quiet suburban life in Seattle, Washington is violently upended by the spread of a seemingly unstoppable epidemic: the dead, no longer dead. Enter Randall Wayne, former forest ranger who is desperately seeking to find his wife, daughter, and possibly more importantly, his memories. This is the scenario presented by Tequila Works in this side-scrolling platformer-meets-survival-horror.

The game begins with little to no introduction, except to show that Mr. Wayne and his fellow survivors must flee a warehouse before it is overrun by “shadows,” the Deadlight term for zombies. Already, just a change in terminology from the norm sets this game apart from other zombie infested games, even if only a little. After the brief graphic novel stylized opening sequence, we're immediately given control of Mr. Wayne as he becomes separated from his friends.

We're briefly taught some basic controls, which aren't exactly revolutionary for a side-scroller. As you progress through the stages (typically from left to right) you'll have to jump or slide to avoid obstacles, perhaps move a few objects or interact with a few things to open a path, or indeed in some cases overcome (or outrun) the sinister shadows that may be coming for you. The progression is pretty straightforward for the majority of the game, but there were a couple screens which stumped me for a short while. Onscreen prompts will almost always alert you to what you have to do.

Unlike many zombie games, Deadlight typically encourages the player to avoid confrontation. This can be achieved a few different ways, and a brief tutorial near the beginning of the game even explains how you can use the environment to get rid of shadows blocking your path. In other cases, you're outright encouraged to run for your life. What little confrontation there is is simple and well presented; nothing convoluted or complex, leaving the game very approachable by all audiences.

As you progress through the screens, Randall's voice over will often remark upon his environment, the situation, or what must be done. Interacting with various objects along your path, of which there are several, will prompt him to further comment. You may also find collectibles, such as stranger ID cards (Mr. Wayne collects the ID cards of deceased strangers... creepy, but thoughtful) or pages to Randall's journal, all but two of which being scattered across the game.

Something about a two dimensional game presented in a three dimensional gameworld is honestly captivating. The graphics are very solid for an XBLA title, and some of the backdrops presented had me halting my advance just to admire the view. While some sidescrollers may have a hard time distinguishing the foreground from the background (and therefore what you can and cannot interact with), this game pulls it off quite nicely. In addition, which I found rather pleasing, on more than one occasion you will find shadows emerging from the backgrounds towards you. This really adds another level of depth reminding the player that although they can only travel left and right, the gameworld is indeed three dimensional.

Unfortunately, it's not all praise. As the game definitely plays more as a platformer than anything, players looking for a new game to kill zombies in may want to shy away from this title. Although there are plenty of the shadows to see, as aforementioned it's usually impossible to deal with them all. In a way, this is the way I prefer it personally. In a few sequences that demand swiftness I truly felt my adrenaline pumping as I outran (or outsmarted) my shadow pursuers.

And without doubt the biggest detracting factor of this otherwise exemplary title is its length. I cannot stress readers enough to be very wary of buying this three hour long game. After completing it and the credits began rolling, I could hardly believe it was really the end because it was over so fast. I was left only to imagine that much of its two gigabyte size was for the lush 3D environments. I don't regret buying it (I bought it on sale), but for 1200 MSP ($15.00 USD) the budgeting gamer should be very, very cautious when considering this purchase. The three hours you get will probably be enjoyable, but they'll be over before you know it.

The collectibles present a little bit of replay value; the majority of them are in plain sight and require no effort other than stopping long enough to interact with them, although a select handful are actually quite well hidden. But even considering this, the game provides a “scene-by-scene” selector which not only tells you how many collectibles you're missing, but tells you whereabouts (not exactly) to find them. This massively reduces your search radius. While completionists may enjoy this very much, it has to be said that any and all replay value this very linear game would have had is cut down significantly.

All in all Deadlight left me with a general sense of “could have been.” The vividly crafted backgrounds made this sidescroller very enjoyable, the quasi-original spin on the classic zombie apocalypse kept me interested, the mystery of Mr. Wayne's struggle against his memories and his search for his family intrigued me, and the platforming, slight puzzles, and tense moments kept me very entertained. But all of that still didn't leave the game feeling like anything more than a demo of something that could have been so much better, so much more grandiose. Something greater.

Graphics: Solid 3D environments make this game very enjoyable to look at, marred only by a few clipping issues.

Sound: Not the best voice acting you've ever heard in a game, but the voices fit their characters well and convey the story to keep you motivated.

Plot: Classic zombie apocalypse, with a few spins. Not the most original plot in the world, but it was thoroughly satisfying.

Gameplay: Sidescrolling platforming interspersed with a few intense action moments leave this game simple enough for any gamer to enjoy, and interesting.

Length/Replay Value: Very linear with a few hidden spots leads to a very short, next-to-zero replay value game. Good for bite-sized gaming, but don't get too attached because it'll be over before you know it.

Yea or Nay? I can't in good conscience say nay, because it was a quality game that kept me very entertained for what little time it offered. But I also can't really justify the price tag with the miniscule amount of hours you get out of this. Try the demo, that's for sure – if you think you'd enjoy more of it (even if just a little bit more), and you have the money to spare, you won't regret it. Otherwise, maybe you should hold out for a sale or until you've got some extra funds.

Final score: 6.4/10
The review was originally published with the final score of 7.0, but was later reduced to 6.4 after a re-evaluation of my scoring criteria.
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249,268 (163,491)
TA Score for this game: 456
Posted on 01 August 12 at 07:58, Edited on 01 August 12 at 07:59
This review has 63 positive votes and 43 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
In 1986 a European zombie outbreak finally reaches North America, and Canadian Mountie Randall Wayne is on a quest to try and find his missing wife and daughter in Seattle before they are taken by “the shadows”.

Along the way, Randall will find new allies, lose old friends forever, and discover that the government he trusted all along might be an even bigger threat than the zombies themselves.

There are over a dozen films with the exact same plot. As zombie stories go, it would be hard for Tequila Work’s first game, Deadlight, to be any more generic.

Deadlight is a side-scrolling platformer akin to 1989’s Prince of Persia. As Randall Wayne, players will solve puzzles, kill zombies and try to piece together what has happened to the world. As simplistic as the gameplay loop may be, games like 2010’s Limbo show that well executed design and an intriguing story will excuse the lack of complexity. Unfortunately, Deadlight fails to meet either of these criteria, and is woefully mediocre as a result.

Nothing in Deadlight hits the way it was meant to. The voice acting is laughably bad, characters will incongruously change tone and volume midway through a scene. The dialogue is so simple and bizarre that it completely undermines the graphic novel aesthetic of the cutscenes. The sound design and music is completely forgettable, and the game frequently - unashamedly - cribs plot points from existing fiction, particularly The Walking Dead. There is a point around halfway through the game that is almost scene-for-scene identical to a major twist from the first graphic novel and first episode of the television show. It could be called homage at best, but plagiarism is probably more fitting. Either way, it is incredible that it made it into the game at all.

Combat is terribly flawed, combining poor design and banality into a single, impotent cocktail. Randall uses a fire axe and pistol to fight back against the shadows, and each swing costs a small amount of the player's stamina bar. An ordinary zombie will take upwards of a half dozen strikes to eliminate. Alternatively, if a zombie gets knocked to the ground, Randall can use a power attack to put it out of its misery right away.

If it sounds compelling on paper, it's ruined by poor implementation. Executing a successful power attack might as well be down to a coin flip, as the sluggish and imprecise controls make it much harder to execute successfully in a fight against more than one zombie. And despite being a 2D platformer, zombies will shamble into the battle from the background and the foreground. This is problematic as it's near-on impossible to determine if a zombie has entered the correct plane to be attacked, leading to situations where Randall will attempt an attack on a zombie that is just out of range, only to be immediately attacked back. These are the kinds of design problems we faced 20 years ago playing Streets of Rage II; experiencing it all over again is incredibly frustrating.

However, the most damning fault comes from the simple design of the characters themselves. The shadows are inky black figures hiding in the background of scenes, often only discernible by their bright, glowing eyes. Randall, too, is a shadowy, dark figure, sliding through the rain-slicked backstreets of Seattle. When they come together in a battle, however, it's difficult to tell Randall from a group of zombies. The only way to identify where Randall is amongst the teeming horde is to attack, and this leaves him open to counter-attack from behind. The amount of deaths that this simple, inexcusable design error can cause is preposterous. It's a lapse of judgement on Tequila Works’ behalf.

Deadlight is a disappointing mess of a game, a title worth less than the sum of its parts. There is a solid concept behind it, but the game is bogged down by sluggish controls and a generic storyline. It's also awfully quick – a slightly more ponderous run through the game took just under four hours, which for 1200 Microsoft points, just isn’t worth the value.

Deadlight could have been something great. Unfortunately, it's as mindless as the zombies it features.
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GriZzly GRiP
344,230 (179,044)
GriZzly GRiP
TA Score for this game: 609
Posted on 22 August 12 at 00:54
This review has 21 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
The story of Deadlight follows a man named Randall Wayne. Wayne was a forest ranger before the “Shadows” came running through town. The story takes place in Seattle where he desperately fights his way to find his missing family and friends. The story is told through little cut scenes which I think look great. They have a comic book style feel to them, but a lot of the back-story can be told through collectibles such as Wayne’s diary. Along the journey you will meet up with other characters. My favorite being the rat.

Deadlight blew me away with the visuals. Your never sitting still in Deadlight and each level is unique. The entire game has you running almost parallel against a silhouetted background. The inside and outside visuals and textures are top notch and a nice break from the huge explosions and over the top set pieces in many games today.

The gameplay in Deadlight is pretty much get your character from a to b with very little exploration. You’ll be climbing up plenty of buildings and ladders also jumping across many platforms to reach the other side. The combat in the game consists of chopping shadows heads off with an axe or shooting them with a revolver or shotgun. Everything runs smooth just expect to be jumping to your death a lot.

The sound is what you would expect plenty of snarls and growls from the shadows along with some eerie background music. The voice acting is done well I loved the rats voice, not sure why he just sounded so haggard and fit his image.

For you completionist out there this game is a breeze. In one playthrough you will net yourself a majority of the achievements. It’s a fairly basic list with your find all of these and complete this. With little exploration the collectibles are not hard to find. After my first playthough I had only missed four. An easy 400 points.

Overall I enjoyed my time with Deadlight. It was such a breathe of fresh air from anything that I had been playing so it was very welcome. I completed the game in around 3 and half hours. For anyone on the fence about Deadlight I would recommend trying out the demo. If your still unsure wait til it goes on DotW because this game should not be missed.
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