Deadlight Xbox Live
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Combining survival horror with puzzle platform gameplay, Deadlight is a gripping and cinematic new title where an ordinary man must face extraordinary odds, coming to Summer of Arcade on 1st August
In a fictionalised 1986, a solitary man treks the American west coast, a survivor of a mysterious disease that has reduced mankind to transforming people into killer automatons. As Randall Wayne you must run, jump, climb, and struggle for your life as you search for hope, fighting extinction like a flame in the desert.
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Let There Be Light?
We've had zombies in the wild west thanks to Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare, zombies in the west wing thanks to Black Ops, and even zombies in the backyard thanks to Plants vs. Zombies. You'd be forgiven for feeling a little bit of undead fatigue, but at least Deadlight, an all-new Xbox Live Arcade game, does something a bit different. This time, it's zombies in a pseudo-2D platformer.
Except, well, they're not called zombies here. The silhouetted enemies in Deadlight are called, fittingly, 'Shadows', the result of a mysterious apocalypse that's struck down large parts of the globe and, for the game's story, the city of Seattle. Their stumbling gait and their lethal nature when attacking in hordes lends them an air of familiarity though, and this is the same undead that you've been battling for time immemorial.
The Fresh Undead
There's much else that's familiar about Deadlight, too. Its near-monochrome visuals bring to mind XBLA predecessor Limbo, just as its backgrounds which conjure up a sense of a believable, 3D space bring to mind the excellent Shadow Complex.
Like both those games, this is a 2D platformer at heart, though it doesn't run quite as deep as either of those classics. Prince of Persia, Another World and Flashback are the big inspirations here, although Deadlight's reluctance to add much to the formula laid out by those games beyond adding some flashier graphics does hold it back a little.
But that's not to say it's a game to skip out on. Spanish developer Tequilla Works - formed of some of the team that made the excellent Jericho and Castelvania: Lord of Shadow - has provided a sense of atmosphere that's quite intoxicating.
The Seattle that houses the game's short adventure is, for a game that's ostensibly 2D in its play, surprisingly authentic. There's a gloomy grit in the run-down suburbs that extends to derelict freeways and creaking subway systems, all of which make Deadlight's world a stark, minimalist joy to explore.
Mechanically it's all a bit minimalist too, but as in other areas of the game the developer knows how to extract the most out of what's on offer. Essentially you'll spend much of your time running and leaping through the environment, and while the controls can be a little wayward, they're by and large reliable, allowing platforming with a sense of momentum that makes the traversal hugely satisfying.
Combat is equally meaty. You start off with nothing but your running boots, and Deadlight takes great pleasure in placing you in situations where you'll escape with gnarled undead fingers tugging at your coat-tails. When the weaponry does arrive it comes as something of a relief . First there's an axe that can be swung around violently as it swiftly saps away at your stamina meter, and then, a little later, the real kit begins to appear. Suffice to say that, yes, there is a boomstick - and yes, it is an awful lot of fun to point in the direction of eager-to-explode rotting heads.
All of which makes for an entertaining and unique experience that's only a little hamstrung by a couple of less than stellar attributes. Deadlight's plot, and specifically its delivery, is jarringly atrocious - though it's hard to complain too much when you consider that this is a genre birthed by Resident Evil and its famously weak cast and voice acting.
More of a problem is how slight the whole thing is - if you don't get caught up in the numerous trial-and-error moments in the game, it's perfectly possible to see it off in around two hours. Worse still, there's nothing substantial enough in Deadlight to make you want to come back and sample more.
Regardless of that, Deadlight presents an extremely entertaining few hours. It's a vision of the apocalypse that's unique, as well as one that's brilliantly atmospheric - and it's quite possibly the best of the bunch in this year's Summer of Arcade line-up.
Our Verdict: 8.0
- Brilliantly atmospheric
- Looks beautiful
- Unique spin on the apocalypse
- A little short
- Too much trial-and-error
Xbox Live Summer of ArcadeActing as a yearly showcase for the best in downloadable titles, Microsoft's latest collection of top games shows us yet again that going digital can be a gamer's delight.Limbo meets Another World in this beautifully-rendered 2D platformer featuring hero, Randall Wayne, as he hunts for his missing wife and daughter. Set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak during the 80s (fret not, Spandau Ballet doesn't make an appearance), the action is firmly focused on outwitting your undead opponents through climbing, running and jumping - rather than emptying their brain pans with a 12-bore.
Alternative Summer of ArcadeGot money to burn? Then we'd recommend downloading these recently-released gems too - enjoy the sublime challenge of Spelunky, the Nintendo-matching imagination of Fez, the twitch-gaming addiction of Trials Evolution and the pixel-powered architecture of Minecraft.
We've had zombies in the wild west, zombies in the west wing, and even zombies in the backyard. You'd be forgiven for feeling a little bit of undead fatigue, but at least Deadlight, an all-new Xbox Li…
Editor's Choice - Xbox LIVE Summer Of… (17/08/2012)
Acting as a yearly showcase for the best in downloadable titles, Microsoft's latest collection of top games shows us yet again that going digital can be a gamer's delight...…
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