I have always been jealous of New York residence because for some reason, having a game take place in your home town has a huge appeal for me. For the longest time I have wanted a game to be set in Seattle, so when I first heard that there was a zombie game set in Seattle I was ecstatic. I was a little bummed when I found out Deadlight was a side scroller and not the open world game of my dreams, but still very very excited. So I played it.
Deadlight is developed by the Madrid based Tequila Works and published by Microsoft. As I mentioned the game takes place in 1986 Seattlet, he Zombie apocalypse has begun and surprise surprise, you are a survivor, Randal Wayne. The game begins with a really cool looking comic book style cut scene in which Randal kills one of his fellow survivors because, “She was bitten! I had to kill her etc.” Shortly following this incident Randal is separated from the group which naturally includes his wife and daughter. The rest of the game is basically Randal running to the right… searching Seattle for his family. The story is regrettably terrible, it is for all intents and purposes a gross mash-up of every Zombie movie/show ever made.
The backdrop of a destroyed Seattle is far and away the best part of the game. The dark, gritty, rainy Seattle setting is extremely fitting for the Zombie apocalypse, especially the world that Tequila works has created. As I ran through Seattle I really enjoyed seeing any recognizable landmarks, even though there weren’t a huge amount, save for the Space Needle of course. That being said, the game is beautiful. Despite the fact that Deadlight is a 2D side scroller, it has a seemingly 3D background that is based on the Unreal engine, and it looks really damn good. Unfortunately Randal is forced to sprint through most of the outdoor segments, allowing for very little time to appreciate the beauty Deadlight has to offer.
The gameplay itself is confused and lacks direction. The game is reminiscent of Limbo in that it has a puzzle element, but it also has weak free running and shooter elements as well. There is no gameplay aspect that is fully developed and it shows. There are often times disconnects between the controls and Randal’s movements that cause for a pretty good amount of frustration. The game is repetitive and tedious and there were very few points that I felt satisfied and content with what I had just done. All of that being said, the control mapping seems to work pretty well, and it better, because you cannot remap it. Not when using an Xbox controller at least.
Deadlight itself clearly has a lot of potential. If Tequila Works had gone in a single direction with the game, making only a puzzle or only a shooter they may have had more luck. Unfortunately, Deadlight is the Dallas Cowboys of zombie games. It is average at everything it does, but is not really great at any one aspect. There were a number of other minor problems that plagued Deadlight, for example the voice acting is subpar and there are clearly some odd translation issues from Spanish. The game finally rubbed me truly the wrong way when Randal is forced into the Seattle subway system. Seattle has no subway system. All in all Deadlight is painfully average. I was really hoping it would be the excellent apocalyptic Seattle game that I wanted it to be, but it just wasn’t.