Deadlight is the first title to be released from Tequila Works. You find yourself in a world where a pandemic has spread through Seattle in the 80s. You find yourself making your way through the city to try to find your family, which leads you to meet a varied cast of characters. As you progress you will be faced with varies amounts of enemies, puzzles, platforming and a twisted story to match.
The art style and gameplay is very similar to other titles such as Limbo, so if you’re a fan of dark and interesting titles, this may be right up your street. The game takes place over several days as you progress to reach your goal. You will need to think on your feet as you attempt some of the puzzle areas, but there isn’t too much of a challenge, but more of an experience as you make your way through the city.
Each area of the city has its own look and feel, so everything always feels new. The areas also seamlessly flow into each other so you don’t feel disconnected from the experience by watching endless cut-scenes or waiting for each area to load. There is also an interesting balance between different art styles, story telling and how the world is presented to you.
The soundtrack to the game is very subtle and ambient, but all the tracks fit in very well to what’s going on. At times you will find yourself listening to drones from the environment, where as other times various paced music will kick in and create a sense of urgency. The balance between music, ambient sounds and the audio design in this game is what you would expect to see in any triple A title.
Even though audio is a huge part of most games, using a balance between ambient sounds, silence and music tracks is rather important. Music tracks only kick in at set parts, and usually come in the more subtle forms, but there are sections where you have to do with the noises of the city, or general silence. These sections are well-balanced and create a sense of loneliness fairly well.
One thing that did stand out to me was the voice acting. Most parts fit really well into the title, even the ramblings from Wayne as you progress. But there are a few sections where some dialogue doesn’t quite fit the moment.
Straight away, you will notice the art style used is a detailed world with a silhouette foreground. The balance between these two styles produces some incredible visuals. At times you may even find yourself looking off into the distance to see the chaos that the world around you has been turned into. Even though the foreground is fairly simple, there has been a lot of attention to detail.
Even though the chapters for each act are short, they bleed into the next section seamlessly without any long breaks or obvious loading screens. The only prompt you may see is a date, time and small title which introduces you to the next section. This is key to the games experience as you don’t find yourself watching animations while you wait for the game to load.
Every so often you will learn more about the characters and story through a set of hand drawn storyboards which are set up like a moving comic strip. These scenes are fairly short and have a very different artistic style to the main game, so some may feel they’re slightly out-of-place, but I feel they add even more to the experience due to how they break up the different graphics styles and sections.
Once you set off on your journey you’re introduced to a cast of characters who are survivors of the pandemic in their own ways. They all have a story to tell and let you into their world, but only for a short time. Some of the voice acting is a little hit and miss at times, but the characters only play a small part in the experience, but hint at other things as you progress.
With the introduction of other characters, the main character Wayne Randall also commentaries as you progress which adds to the experience and provides you with the extra. These are a welcome addition as they don’t really interfere to the experience, they just add to what’s going on while a huge pandemic.
There isn’t much else I want to say about the story as I don’t want to ruin anyone’s first experience with the game. There is a lot to learn, and there are a few twists and turns that you learn later on.
As you start out you’re slowly introduced to the various game mechanics such as sprinting, rolling, wall jumping, climbing and how to use the various weapons. The controls are very simple, well laid out and do what they’re supposed to. You’re very limited with your health, ammo and fighting styles, so you have to pick and choose what to fight and how to tackle each area. Most areas have alternative ways to attack them, so you can either choose to fight, or run. But you will always need to think carefully as the shadows can climb over small things and they will follow you if you’re within range.
Every area you enter will provide you with a new challenge. Some areas are filled with traps, so you need to work out how to traverse these areas without falling to your death or ending up a pin cushion. Not to mention that one wrong move can turn you into a zombie snack if you’re not careful.
The level design is always varied, but provides you with obstacles that you will always know how to use. For instance, using a telegraph pole to reach the other side of a road safely, though it may snap on you. You’re also given subtle hints and suggestions on where to climb with small markers or flowing cloth hanging and blowing in the wind. Though these items are very subtle, they don’t always provide you with the perfect route, nor do they stand out to the point where they intrude on the experience and ruin the puzzles.
If you’re looking for an experience that lasts more than a few hours, you may want to look elsewhere. Deadlight spans a few hours and most of that time will have you looking for collectibles and hidden items. This is one of the big draw backs to the title as it has the potential to create and extend the world further. But instead, you’re cut short with with fair length acts and a short third act.
Deadlight is an extremely well put together title with an interesting story and visuals. If you’re one for puzzle platformers then this is a must buy. One of the biggest drawbacks with the title is it’s length. The price that matches the length may also seem a little high. If you’re intent on sitting down for a few hours you can finish this game several times and earn your 100% completion. Once you hit this point, the game loses any replay value, but it’s still worth the investment if you’re a fan of this genre of game style.
If you’re unsure, checkout the demo and judge for yourself. This title won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a zombie fanatic and want to play something a little different outside of the first person shooter range, then this may fill that void you’re looking for.