Following another zombification epidemic Deadlight takes us along for the ride with Randall Wayne, a tortured survivor seeking out his lost family. The narrative picks up as he is separated from a small group of survivors and the actual mission of the game is spent reuniting with them. Taking account of its roots the game fondly brings to mind such classics as Flashback or Prince of Persia, a flick screen platform driven game where you navigate pretty much from left to right or occasionally up and down.
Deadlight is a beautiful game there is no way around that, the animation is fluid and the environments reek of atmosphere.
Split into three distinct sections the game has a clear beginning, middle and end. The first chapter offers an environment of built up areas, where Randall finds his feet and learns to avoid the many instant deaths that await him. The second is a somewhat frustrating, but nicely realised sewer section. This area you are guided through by the unusual Rat Man, a skinny survivor that wants to see you struggle through his defences rather than invite you in. The final section is more full on combat and survival, the endgame becoming quite frantic as you make your escape, resolve your own story, rescue friends and avoid non zombie enemies. The narrative is pushed along by static comic style cutscenes, which are ok, but I think we have seen them overdone.
It has been a long time since I played a game of this genre and while it is visually stunning I have had some issues with the controls, occasionally sticking when I should be jumping and in the heat of a zombie escape moment leaping into my pursuers rather than jumping up to a ledge. The game is certainly unforgiving and will kill you at every opportunity, mistiming jumps, getting caught by zombies, repeatedly mown down by a chopper or falling into water higher than your waist. Not forgetting the spikes and traps of the Rat man. It is fair to say there have been moments of extreme frustration and swearing mixed in with satisfaction. It seems that if you do get something wrong, you keep getting it wrong and the best answer is a break or a nights sleep before going back. However, regardless of whether it has been sprinting across rooftops or hanging from telephone wires with hordes of zombies beneath me, I have had a good time with Deadlight.
I went into the game expecting some of the negatives like longevity or difficulty to put me off, but when you are running, jumping and flowing through the screens it can be a lot of fun.There are a bunch of collectibles on offer, most of which are obvious and it should only take another replay to knock them off. Three of them are hidden LCD based mini games, a worthy diversion for achievement hunters as the score required can be racked up pretty quickly.
All in all Deadlight has been a good experience, it has been fairly short (with completion sitting around the two-ish hour mark) I really appreciate the work that has gone into the art style and the quality of the animation, however at 1200 points unless you are a dedicated completionist it will feel slightly overpriced. As a puzzle game it can vary from puzzles that are satisfying to work out, to pixel perfect jumps that are fatal if mistimed how ever many times you try them. That said the checkpoints, restarts and reload times are all forgiving enough to keep you trying for another go. As a retro inspired platform adventure it pushes the right buttons, it might just seem to be better value when the inevitable 800 points special pops up.