Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Deadlight Review

It is hard not to find yourself excited when Microsoft announce the next XBLA promotion they are releasing. They always feature the biggest and most ambitious titles at a bargain price. There is always that one staple game people are most looking forwards to in the 4-5 on offer and Deadlight is probably rivalling Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD for that title. The one thing going against Deadlight is that it is a side scrolling survival game. A lot of comparisons can be made to Limbo and Shadow Complex, two very successful XBLA games in their own right, as directly competing with them in a saturated genre is no easy task. Does Deadlight manage to pull it off though? It is certainly up there as one of the best XBLA games I've played to date.


Deadlight tells the story of Randall who is out to save his wife and daughter from the obvious zombie takeover of Seattle. Randall is a 2 dimensional character that you will control as a mere shadow running along a darkened foreground. The background is a bright, vibrant setting that will have you staring in awe of its beauty despite the reign of terror engulfing the world. This art style should sound very familiar because it is exactly what Limbo did. If it is on your direct dimension of interaction then it is black otherwise enjoy the view. I am pleased to say that Deadlight takes this to the next level by creating an immersive world that really blends in with the darkened foreground, rather than simply pointing out the obvious rift between the two. Objects in the background directly relate to what you are in or your current location and there is movement in the third dimension as zombies are sometimes walking towards the screen, which is very cool.

Every aspect of the audio in this game is outstanding. The cut scenes features voice acting from a few different characters, but the majority of what you hear is the narration from Randall. His deep voice perfectly suits the mood of the character and the struggle he is going through. The musical score in the game sets an eerie feeling throughout the entire adventure. It manages to do this without interfering with the actual game by setting the mood instead of influencing the play. This lets you focus on the gameplay instead of unnecessary sound effects in the desolate world you find yourself alone in.


Deadlight is a game that will test the strength of mankind and the distances we will go in dire straits when motivated. This could've turned into a zombie shooter where you stroll into the area, kill everything you see and move on, but it is so much more. Randall never feels like he has a solid grasp on the situation, he is always stuck in that endless struggle between trying to survive while also moving closer to rescuing his family. Sure, you will sometimes have access to a weapon that will assist in disposing of the onslaught of zombies. Most of the time is spent using the environment to assist you and simply doing everything in your power to avoid conflict altogether. Moments where you are running for your life with a horde of zombies hot on your tail is an exhilarating experience that never stops sending a chill down your spine.

For your 1200 Microsoft Points you will be given a game that will take you approximately 5 hours to complete. This is pretty good for a game at this price and being shorter than a console game means that the lack of plot points won't make the experience stale. While there is the obvious struggle and pain Randall is experiencing for allowing himself to get separated from his family, it isn't an engaging story that it could've turned out to be. A huge twist at the end that no one would expect does make it worthwhile but just don't let the initial tales of the zombie outbreak put you off.

Controls are simple and the animation of Randall is fluid. Most environments should give you a fair idea of what you need to do but expect to die a few times. That car conspicuously hanging from a wire could be used to kill zombies, if you find the switch. Stuff like this is very cool and a rewarding way to engage the players brain. Some of the platforming from ledge to ledge requires some pretty precise timing that could put off some players, but with perseverance it will be the least of your troubles.


Sure, zombies have been done to death in almost every medium now, but one more title couldn't possibly hurt? Deadlight is a very strong title that kept me glued to the screen for the entire game. I never thought that running away from a horde of zombies I could see would be scary but this game provides moments that had me tensing up and praying for survival. Randall's struggle is perfectly portrayed to the gamer who is never fully in control and is relying on some smart decisions rather than a guns blazing approach. If you enjoyed Limbo then this game will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Graphics - 9.5/10 
Sound - 9/10 
Gameplay - 8.5/10 
Overall - 9/10