I went back to Deadlight, and got a little further before hitting a new game-breaking bug.
Deadlight is set in a zombie-infested imagining of Seattle in the mid-’80s. You play as Randall Wayne, a guy with the cheesiest voice ever, who is making his way to a safe zone where he hopes to find his wife and daughter. Cutscenes are delivered via gorgeous comic-style animations, but unfortunately they are in service of a cringe-inducing narrative that collates several apocalyptic stories and throws in an obvious plot twist. The dialogue is particularly weak, with some of the most unnatural-sounding conversations I have ever heard (though the developers are based in Spain so it may be a translation problem). Combined with some really exaggerated voice acting, the tone ends up being unintentionally camp. The worst part of the game is the protracted second act, where you are captured by a crazy man who calls himself ‘The Rat’, who has somehow constructed an enormous underground obstacle course full of deathtraps that he uses to test you for literally no reason at all. This section was presumably included to add some variety to the environments, but instead feels like a contrived way of stretching out the length of the game. Deadlight tries to wedge a philosophical angle into the narrative, but this basically consists of characters droning on about how ‘choices define people’ as if that is somehow a revelation.
Deadlight is a 2D platformer reminiscent of the original Prince Of Persia, with the aesthetic of Limbo mixed in. Most of your time is spent traversing the environment by jumping, crouching, climbing, rolling and sprinting. Parkour mixed with a zombie apocalypse backdrop could have been good, but the often unresponsive controls result in a lot of deaths whenever precise timing is required. Both the environments and your character are presented as silhouettes, and this can cause problems when it is unclear what is a climbable platform and what is in the background. If you stand still for a moment, arrows appear that point out the ledges on-screen, which seems like a really lazy way of alleviating the problem, and this feature isn’t much use when you are required to speed through an area.
The game also includes a few combat mechanics. The shooting is okay; you drag a line over your target and fire. The melee combat, however, is clumsy, generally consisting of mashing a button and hoping for the best. If the zombies grab you (which they will) you have to mash the same button to free yourself – straight into the grasp of another zombie, and this loop usually continues until you die.
The only thing I really liked about the game was the art style. As I have already mentioned, your character and the platforms are mostly silhouettes against a slightly more colourful background, and while this approach sometimes presents gameplay problems, it is quite nice to look at. In addition, the game occasionally makes use of lighting and perspective tricks to create some impressive visual effects, such as a moment where the lights come on to reveal a horde of zombies in the room with you.
Now for the technical problems. I ran into two issues that meant I had to close and reopen the application. The first was a point where I got stuck in a zone with textures missing, unable to do anything except press the respawn button to be dropped into the same zone. The second was a room that didn’t light up when entered, meaning I could not see the path to progress. Along with these bigger one-off problems, there were persistent issues with the hit detection and points where the character would not grab on to a ledge. The bugs combined with the poor content sealed the recommendation status.
Partway through playing Deadlight, I remembered that I had completed it a few years ago on Xbox 360, meaning it was less memorable than the shitty movie tie-in games I played when I was five. That pretty much sums up my feelings for Deadlight. Between the generic story and the clumsy gameplay, there is very little here worth recommending.