Long before Indy found and lost the Ark and Quigley went down under there was Allan Quatermain, a man from an altogether different time, hunting wild animals, fraternising with the African natives and discovering hidden treasures; his adventures where thrilling but sadly lost due to more modern tastes. There have been a few attempts to revive the love of Allan, with Alan Moores The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen featuring a bitter and decrepit version and the movie version (not as bad as everyone makes out but do read the comics first) and now Nordic Games are returning to the Quatermain legend in Deadfall Adventures for the PC and Xbox Live (PC version tested).
Rather than revisit the old tales, Deadfall Adventures takes the Quatermain legacy forward a few generations, namely to James Lee Quatermain, the great grandson of Allan, which coincidently also sets up this piece in very familiar territory to a certain fedora wearing action hero with Nazis up to their old tricks searching for an all-powerful treasure in some Egyptian ruins which then leads to plenty of globetrotting around the Arctic and Guatemala trying to locate three fragments of the Heart of Atlantis.
Though missing the trademark whip there are more than a few nods to Indy, including the gruff voice, a beautiful female sidekick/assistant, a notebook with tips from his relative and even a beat up hat, though this is not a bad thing in my opinion considering the quality of Indy games unleashed on the world, though with the game predominantly being a first person shooter, Quatermain is a little more heavily armed with either dual pistols or a variety of rifles, shotguns and explosives.
During these adventures, James and Jen soon find themselves teamed up with a Nazi scientist (like that will end well), fighting against troops of German soldiers and undead mummies protecting the hidden treasures and before you can say Arctic Nazi Submarine Mummies, the Russians also join the fight. Though James is heavily armed and more than capable of taking out the majority of living baddies, the mummies take a slightly different approach, utilizing the beam on his torch and focusing it on them to the point where they are somehow vulnerable to normal bullet fire in a spectacular explosion of light, leaving just a bundle of bones crashing to the floor.
As any seasoned adventurer will tell you, it is not always about the shooting and Deadfall Adventures offers plenty of puzzle elements thrown in when trying to get past an immovable obstacles or reaching a treasure. Of course, those Atlanteans where very fond of protecting their wares and the lands that James and Jen visit are littered with all manner of death traps, from crocodile infested waters, collapsible walkways, spear traps and poison darts, in fact the first few levels are pretty much every trap featured in an Indy film, even down to a mine cart section.
With plenty of main puzzles to solve, there are also a few hidden treasures to locate and figure out how to reach and this is where the game really sets itself apart from the usual first person shooter mentality with you wandering around trying to find switches or safe paths to get the glittering prize taunting you in the distance. Though not vital to the quest, each treasure does grant special powers when collected in groups. Split between the Path of Life, Path of the Warrior and the Path of Light, they are quite self-explanatory as to what they can do, with the Path of Life upgrading health and stamina, Warrior making your weapon handling better with faster reloads and less recoil and the Path of Light making your flashlight even more effective against the undead.
From start to finish, Deadfall Adventures managed to surprise me with plenty of great traps and puzzles to figure out all set to a very good movie based soundtrack, again with plenty of inspiration from John Williams Indiana Jones score; sadly though the vocal talents ruin a lot of the hard work. With all the fun and excitement of the story, Deadfall Adventures does have a few issues, mainly that the game is littered with bugs that sadly effected quite a bit of the proceeding action with falling through levels or getting stuck on environments being a far too regular occurrence. Add to this an annoying save system that makes you lose anything you collected if you die or the game crashes and some instances of replaying becomes a chore and really spoils any enjoyment you are having. If however like me you can forgive these technical glitches and hope for a later patch or a better build for the Xbox Live version there is plenty of enjoyment to be had.
I will make a brief mention of online options as they do exist, however at the time of reviewing there were no matches to be found; though it does support a variety of solo and team deathmatch games with simple deathmatch rules or some that are a little more treasure hunter based.
Deadfall Adventures is a great looking first person adventure game that even with its glitches becomes a very exciting title that will draws you into the story. Worth a look if you are struggling for titles to play.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PC)
+ A decent selection of Indiana Jones style puzzles.
- Some very annoying glitches