Deadlight was originally released in 2012 as a part of XBOX’s Summer of Arcade Games by Tequila Works and that is when I downloaded the demo. The game was ok to play but it just didn’t inspire me to spend the money on it. However, it was also the Free Game with Gold in April 2014. When I saw that it was free, I decided to get the full version and play it.
This game is a sidescroller and I tend to not be happy with those. Why create such interesting backgrounds that I can’t explore? That is probably most of my issues with sidescrollers, being able to only go left to right and back again with occasional up and down. Anyone who listened to my shows know I prefer first person shooters by far. But, as a gamer I will play other types of games. There were a few areas that I had to replay simply due to mechanics or because I didn’t see where it wanted me to go the first time (like ducking when I thought it was trying to get me to go up).
To set the record straight, for any of you horror fans out there like me, this game has nothing to do with Stephen King’s “deadlights” from IT. I think it could have been nice to have had an evil clown and I suppose in a way it did, but not Pennywise.
This story takes place in Seattle Washington in 1986 and something has happened to the world creating “Shadows”. As their name implies they are just black shapes with white eyes. (Visually it reminds me of Limbo.) Yes, in case anyone was wondering, the Shadows behave like zombies and pretty much this is the game’s way of being a little different than all the other zombie games out there. The game starts out with a “cut scene” where your character, Randall Wayne, shoots a fallen woman. I put the cut scene in quotes because this game uses stills more than actual moving scenes. It feels very comic book like and that has a certain kind of appeal. The woman you shot was bitten but her sister, of course, is angry at you. While she is expressing her anger the place your group is hiding gets overrun by the Shadows and you are separated from the group. The goal of the game from then on is to try to find your group again with the ultimate goal of finding your family. Yes, that is such a tired plot but it is something that most people can get behind. The cynic in me really has to wonder how many men would actually be looking for their wives & children in a situation like this. And no, I don’t think it’s more likely that a woman will be more inclined to go through these extremes for their husband. It’s a beautiful sentiment but the reality doesn’t look promising.
One other aspect of this game is that for a while you don’t have a weapon. You have to rely on being faster or gathering them in a cluster and then jumping over them to get away. When you do get a gun there is a flashback to learn how to use it in the game. The mechanics of the gun is a little different than just the point and shoot. Not the best for rapid shooting of multiple targets which is probably something that the developers might have wanted to still encourage you to use the tactic of run more than just shoot the Shadows dead. There was one point in a room where I needed to get to the other side but I was in a great sniping spot. So, I decided to shoot them with the pistol and just clear the room. In theory that should work. In practice though, not so much. It turned out that there was a spawning point in there and for every Shadow I killed another ran into the room. Ammo shortages were not really a problem for me as I tend to head shot all my shots so I wasn’t worried about that. The futility of trying to clear the room got to me and I did finally do as the game wanted and just called them to one area and then got out through the other side.
The shooting mechanics brings me to talking about gameplay. It’s a sidescroller so there shouldn’t be much issues to it, however, I had several times where I got hung up because I would press the jump button and it just didn’t want to jump. There are some places where the environment is collapsing all around you and you must get out before being crushed. Several times I was crushed because I couldn’t jump properly. There were other times when I was running away from an enemy helicopter and again the controls were not as responsive as they needed to be. Major negative for this game.
Another negative is just how short it is, although I can at least respect that. There is nothing worse than a game that is drawn out and monotonous and with the abundance of zombie games that happens often. Truly, shoot a zombie in the head (or chop off limbs) and proceed on. I am going to give the developers credit and say that they kept it short to keep the game from just running on and on. It does have three mini games to play to change it up which you can play either in game when you collect the “hand held” devices or from the main menu.
Replayability is just not very high with this game. There are not multiple choices to have different outcomes of the game. My first play through I earned 23 out of the 30 achievements so even for the point of achievement whoring there isn’t much replayability. Possibly the most entertaining thing about this game is the ID cards that you collect along the way. Again, that is done in many games so nothing new, but this time the cards have a theme. The first card I picked up was “R.T. Chase” which kind of stuck out to me but I couldn’t completely place it. I think the next card I picked up was “E. Theodore Gein.” That one I placed immediately. The third one I picked up I want to say was “J. W. Gacy.” After that, I knew, the cards were of people who are notorious killers or suspected of being killers. That made me chuckle and look for the cards which on the first play through I found 11 of the 15 cards.
For me, it had the appeal of being comic book-ish, famous killer’s ID cards (even if not all of them killed by 1986) and a title that made me think of Stephen King. Gameplay left a lot to be desired and the brevity of the game do take away. As a free game I cannot complain too much about it and would give it about 3 out of 5.