So you still want more zombie action? If the countless first person shooters, survival and tower defense games still does not satisfy your hunger to slay zombies then hopefully Deadlight will.
It’s 1986 and all life on the world has pretty much been wiped out, with only pockets of humanity spread thin through it’s derelict cites. That is not to say these cities are not populated, since whoever dies shortly thereafter raises from the earth, ready to munch on some highly sought after fresh brains. Know as Shadows, these dark undead will roam the streets and alleyways looking for victims. You play as Randall “Randy” Wayne, one of a small group of survivors who, four months in from the start of this epedemic is trying to find out the fate of his family and make it to the haven like Safe Zone; but as the tale unfolds it appears it is not just the Shadows that you need to be wary of.
Playing this you can’t help but be reminded of the original Prince of Persia. A 2D platform game that offers plenty of puzzles to figure out, huge gaps to traverse and of course, the occasional Shadow to take down. Thankfully Randall is very athletic, being able to pull off wall jumps, barge down doors and pull himself over most obstacles, though you do need to keep track of his stamina which plays a huge part in the overall gameplay. The first few stages set up the story, with you collecting old diary pages an also going into dream-like flashbacks to add a little surrealism to the story as you wander trough Seattle searching for the Safe Zone, traversing office blocks and deserted highways until it really goes wrong; with the introduction of Ratman, a survivor who lives under the city, who will help you but only once you have survived his insane labyrinth full of pressure pad death traps and even more Shadows.
Though there are weapons scattered around the remnants of Seattle to use against the Shadows, the aim of the game is avoidance as you have a couple of areas that work against you. First off, ammo is in short supply, with you only reaching for your gun at the most desperate of times. Secondly you have a stamina bar which will deplete with every action, be it swinging an axe or hanging from a pole, once it runs out you are pretty much useless until you get your breath back.
As well as dishing out pain, weapons can also be used for simple puzzle solving like shooting a padlock or smashing down doors blocked with wooden planks. Even though avoiding contact with the Shadows is a high priority you can still vent your frustration on them by using the many environmental traps that you can lure them to with a simple whilst to get their attention, mindlessly walking into holes, electric cables or even to get crushed under a garage lift.
The games presentation really helps heighten the mood of the game, with the foreground covered in darkness and shadows, scrolling along with some exceptionally made scenes of total apoclypse in the background, from derelict cities to dark and dingy sewers. The Shadows also have a menacing presence with their piercing red eyes giving their positions away as you hear them shuffling and wailing in the darkness. Most of the levels are interspersed with some very well created motion comics that manage to hold together the bleak reality of the game world.
Controlling Randall is very easy and his animations are fluid, which can at times cause similar problems to the original Prince of Persia, which was fine tuning approaches for long jumps and grabbing ledges; but after a few silly deaths you get used to it. After collecting them, weapons are always ready to use, with tapping or holding B swinging the axe at different angles or aiming the gun with the right stick and then lining up your target for those ammo saving crucial head shots.
Now here is the sticking point, I really enjoyed Deadlight from start to finish and even a little replaying to collect some of the secret items scattered around; but this took no more than a couple of gaming sessions to finish off and at a price point of 1200 MS Points I feel it’s a little steep, so do bear that in mind, but if cash is not an issue Deadlight is well worth your time.
Review Policy (version tested: XBLA)