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Review: Deadlight (XBLA)

by on July 30, 2012
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10

 
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10

 
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10

 
Story
10

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10

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Prince of Persia (2D) + Zombies = Deadlight. What more could you possibly want? Deadlight is one of those games that makes me very happy that I own an Xbox 360.  Some of the best games on the platform reside on the Xbox Live Arcade and Deadlight easily rests among those. If you want the long and short of it, without reading my in-depth impressions, go buy this game right now; you will not be disappointed. 

Still need some convincing? Not a problem, as I’ve plenty good to say about this zombie infused platform puzzler. However, let’s just get the nasty stuff out of the way first. The voice acting is pretty mediocre with the quality dipping down into very poor at times. Story wise, there are a few surprises, but overall the plot kind of meanders and though it has glimpses of greatness, isn’t anything to write home about. What I do like about the story though is that you can participate in as much or as little as you’d like. If you want to just watch the cut scenes (of course you can skip those as well) then more power to you. However, if you’re like me and you want to scour the levels for diary pages of the main character and scraps of a past before the zombie apocalypse, then you’ll actually vastly increase your narrative understanding and improve the story of the game as a whole. Giving the player that choice in how to participate in the narrative and how much to see is always a welcome inclusion in my opinion and is definitely appreciated here. 

You will be filling the shoes of Randall Wayne who is searching for his family in the fallout of a war with the undead. The zombies, or Shadows as they are called here, have overrun the Earth and the attempts of the military to wipe them out by carpet bombing has left the world in shambles. You’ll navigate those shambles with a combination of platforming and light puzzles that make clever use of the surroundings and almost never feel forced. Like any zombie game worth its salt, the ammo can be limited and many times your wits will be the only weapon you have available. Whether it’s popping a zombie in the head with one of your few bullets or luring them to their death by crushing it’s almost always satisfying. 

The world of Deadlight.

Graphically the world is represented in bleak colors and shadows. Randall shows as an outline with a few details, shadowed against the background of apocalyptic torn cities and the zombies are shambling outlines themselves with red eyes. I’m usually one for vibrant colors, but the overall aesthetic works very well for the desolate and hopeless feel of the game, and gives it a distinct look. You can instantly tell Deadlight apart from other games just by looking at screenshots and the presentation overall is pretty high. The cut-scenes you’ll see are shown to you in a graphic novel style which adds a nice touch of detail and gives you a better look at Randall up close while keeping the distinct art style. 

Deadlight is a decent challenge, though I don’t suppose it will give hardcore players and platformer fans much problem. The game itself lasts somewhere around 4 hours on a rushed play through. The play time may be longer or shorter, there isn’t a play clock that I’ve found, but adding it up to my completion of the game it sounds about right. Of course if you plan on seeing everything the game has to offer, scouring the levels for things you’ve missed will keep you busy for a little while longer. Still time length only reaches around 5 and a half hours when maxing everything out. It’s a little disappointed considering some ofther games on XBLA that triple that playtime.

When playing to unlock 100%, I’m a big fan of being able to replay scenes and levels of a game instead of replaying the whole game. Make no mistake, Deadlight is worth multiple playthroughs, but I really appreciate that it lets you see what you’ve missed and go straight to the level that you missed it in so you can scour every inch of the world. In my opinion some of the nicest touches are the mini games you can unlock and play that are represented by finding these little dot pixel handheld machines the likes of which Tiger used to make. The game is set in the past and it just adds something to the game to see these sorts of things represented while also making references to current video games with tongue in cheek humor. 

There goes my last shot.

With repayable levels, finely balanced platforming/puzzle gameplay, a high level of graphical presentation, and a host of unlockables; it isn’t hard to see what is so appealing about Deadlight. Sure it makes a few missteps with voice acting, but being that it’s in a XBLA title that isn’t really that big of a dig on the game.  I’ve started to grow a little weary of the host of zombie games out there, so it’s a big kudos to the developer that they were able to approach gameplay in a manner that we haven’t seen before with zombies. Overall Deadlight is not only a solid purchase, but one of my favorite games on the XBLA platform altogether.

Writers Edit: Please note, upon completion of the game I’ve lowered the score, mostly due to the shortness of the game. While I still believe the game is of high quality, besides voice acting, I also feel that it’s a little on the short side for 15 dollars.

For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this title was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes. If you have any questions about this game the reviewer will be able to answer them in the comment section.

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  • synopsis
    July 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I haven’t played it, but i have heard a lot, and i mean a lot, of the people who got copies to review, that the first hour or so is good, great even, and the rest is trash. There are so many saying the same thing, that i am inclined to believe it. Its also short from what i have read, act 1 is great, and about 40 minutes long or so. Act 2 is mediocre but the longest of the 3, and that act 3 is terrible and only like 20 minutes long. Did you play the whole game? Curious to see if your opinion differs on the total game, as opposed to giving it a good test of a hour or so.


    • Daniel Flatt
      July 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      If you check my gamertag, Mail0rderNinja (edit: that’s a zero not an O), you’ll notice I finished the entire game. Honestly I can’t help but feel a bit insulted as I’ve never reviewed a game I didn’t finish besides one; and I blatantly mention it in the review. Actually not only did I finish it, but am actively working on 100% right now and replaying scenarios.

      I’m curious to know what reviews you’ve been reading. Granted, I haven’t read any but two because I’ve already formed my opinion and have no need for them. However, IGNs review gave it a solid 8.5 so it doesn’t sound like I’m alone in thinking it’s a great game.

      The other one I read was a polar opposite on Kotaku, which he pretty much hated everything about the game. While I agree that the voice acting is stiff and can be poor (I mentioned this in my review) the rest is baffeling to me. He complains about controls which I had absolutely zero problem with. One of his big gripes is aiming, but all you literally do is push the right stick towards the zombie. I don’t think I missed even once. Jumping was responsive and the character wasn’t sluggish at all, he had a realistic weight to him actually.

      Randall is not Mario, he cannot turn on a dime or swing an axe like Kratos. I’m not sure what that reviewer is looking for length wise in a 15 dollar XBLA title either. From start to finish I probably had a solid 4-5 hours of game time (this is a guestimate so it could be slightly shorter), and I didn’t get everything. Replaying levels has been fun and added additional time, but no you aren’t going to get 10 or 20 hours out of this title. And that’s ok. I mean look at Journey, it’s 2 hours or so long, and it’s one of the finest games on a downloadable platform.

      Regardless of the sometimes poor story and voice work I very much enjoyed my time with Deadlight. If I hadn’t got a review copy, you can bet I would have still purchased it. I’m a big fan of 2D adventure/platform sorts of titles and so the game was a good fit for me.


      • synopsis
        July 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm

        Didn’t mean to insult, was not the intention. I was just curious as i had seen some vids of it, and was interested, until i saw all the hands on reviews from people who were given it a week prior (400 plus people). Your review just contrasts everything i have read about it lately(i don’t look at paid review sites, ign, gamespot, and so on) so i was curious if you went through the whole game, which you didn’t actually say you did in the article, you just through out generic numbers from what the game was said to be before anyone said it, time wise. You even changed your time in the reply from 5-6, to 4-5, which, sure is only an hour, but thats a big percentage the games time. A lot of people get paid to review, or review off small portions of actual gameplay, thats why i asked. Thanks for the reply.


        • Daniel Flatt
          July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

          I’m going to see if there is a way to check game time. I don’t believe there is, I didn’t see any sort of play time clock, so I have to go purely off my play sessions. I finished the game in three separate play sessions. The first was 2 hours or so, the second probably another 1:45 minutes or so, and another hour or so on the last one. So around 4 hours though it could have been more or less.

          I updated the review now, because I gave you the 4-5 in the reply because when I added it up in my head it definitely didn’t hit 6. If you asked me for a solid number I would say 4 hours is about a standard. Of course I’ve played it more since then, I don’t have any gamefaqs to access so if I can’t find something I have to play multiple times.

          No I didn’t say I explicitly say I finished the game, but I believe that it should be a given. Honestly if you are given a game for free from a developer, I think the standard thought is you complete the entire thing before posting a review. What I meant in my reply was that the one game I didn’t finish that I’ve reviewed for the site I made sure to say so in my review.

          Either way the hour count, I believe, is a trivial matter here truly. I’ve seen people pay 60 for a game that’s five hours long and I’ve seen the longest games end up dragging on for far more then they need. Deadlight ends just when it should, without overstaying it’s welcome.

          Of course I very much think you should download the trial and find out for yourself. I’m unsure of what 400 people you’ve talked to, I don’t think there are that many reviews on the net right now, but I’m clearly not alone. You may discount the pay sites (I don’t really see why), but on game rankings the highest review is 80 or so and the lowest is 6.

          That doesn’t really equal trash like your previous reply said. My score is higher because it’s exactly the type of game I enjoy playing, and since the review is my opinion, that would factor in and raise the score.

          Thank you very much for reading and replying. Not only that, but I appreciate your intelligent and well written replies. I apologize if I misunderstood your first reply.


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