Review: Deadlight

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Deadlight – PC Game Review

Developed by Tequila Works and published by Microsoft Studios


Review­ed by J.D. “Gun­Mod” Woh­le­ver


While taking cues from a mix of other gen­res, nota­b­ly zom­bie sur­vi­val, plat­for­mers and side scrol­lers, Dead­light by Tequi­la Works is almost a sub gen­re unto its­elf.

Set in the mid 1980’s, Dead­light is the sto­ry of a man with a haun­ted past who is try­ing to find his fami­ly and fri­ends during the out­break of a zom­bie apo­ca­lyp­se.

This is You.

Oh Gre­at!” I hear you say… but wait, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill zom­bie sur­vi­val game.
What sets Dead­light apart from the hund­reds of other “zom­bie” games?
Well, for star­ters it’s a side-scrol­ling per­spec­tive action game set in the past, 1986 to be spe­ci­fic.
It also has a rea­listic and believ­a­ble sto­ry that doesn’t get in the way.
The basic con­cept of the game is to get from point A to point B with mini­mal con­tact with the actu­al zom­bies while using a small revol­ver, axe, shot­gun and even a slingshot.
While the­re isn’t a lot of varie­ty in the wea­pons or tools, they are put to smart use.
And you had bet­ter be smart with them, becau­se ammo is very scar­ce and should only be used when out­num­be­red.

The Fireman’s Axe

Your basic kil­ling wea­pon will most likely be the fireman’s axe. It’s not fast, but it does the job as long as you think smart befo­re swin­ging.
The game uses a well done stami­na sys­tem, each jump, run­ning and even each swing of the axe lowers your stami­na quick­ly, so you can’t run into a herd of zom­bies and just spam click them to death.
Taking off the zom­bies head is the only way to stop them and the only way you can do that with the axe is to knock them to the ground with it first.
Taking out just one zom­bie can knock your stami­na down to half, so you have to play smart.
The .38 cali­ber revol­ver, mode­led after a Smith & Wes­son Satur­day Night Spe­cial is a much more let­hal wea­pon, but again, you can’t just pump the zom­bies full of gutshots to drop them.
One aimed shot to the head will kill most zom­bies.

Fun with Fire­arms

If your aim isn’t so good, the shot­gun will defi­ni­te­ly make your day.
Usual­ly one blast from this scat­ter gun will easi­ly shred two to three zom­bies.


Bad Guys?

This game isn’t all about kil­ling zom­bies.
Along the way you will also encoun­ter some light envi­ron­men­tal puz­zles that you must over­co­me with eit­her speed, jum­ping at the right moment or using your non-let­hal slingshot to knock loo­se boards and traps from a distan­ce.
As the sto­ry pro­gres­ses you deal with more than just the living dead on your jour­ney to dis­co­ver what hap­pen­ed to your wife and child.
From fal­ling buil­dings, razor wire and the occa­sio­nal pike trap and even gun wel­ding living peop­le are all part of the plot to keep you from get­ting to the end of the sto­ry.


Gra­phi­cal­ly the game is very well done.
The urban city of 1986 Seat­tle looks almost time-peri­od per­fect.
From the cor­rect vehi­cles, to signs and ads that would have exis­ted then, the city feels like a real city.
The game has a very “noir” feel to it that seems to have been done with gre­at atten­ti­on to detail.

Seat­tle, 1986

This game was ori­gi­nal­ly released as an Xbox 360 Live Arca­de game and I was sur­pri­sed how well it loo­ked on a modern PC.
Even though the­re isn’t a ton of gra­phi­cal opti­ons and doesn’t have any modern over­do­ne came­ra effec­ts that so many modern games try to stuff down our throats (I’m loo­king at you Watch_Dogs), the gra­phics hold-up very well and I actual­ly pre­fer them to some more modern games.


Full dis­clo­sure here, I’m not one of tho­se guys who likes to have music bla­ring in my games.
When I play a serious game I want a rea­listic sound envi­ron­ment, so one of the first things I do is turn off the music or at least turn it very far down.
I did lea­ve the back­ground music at about 20% for this tit­le as it did lend to the atmo­s­phe­re of the game.
Gunshots sound about right and zom­bies are easi­ly heard in the distan­ce.
The voice acting seems pret­ty pro­fes­sio­nal and while the sto­ry will not win any awards, it is done pro­per­ly with the voice acting.


Let me say, the main sto­ry is rather short.
I have a touch over 11 hours log­ged in with this on Steam, and that’s with try­ing to get all collec­ta­bles.
As this star­ted life as a Xbox Live Arca­de tit­les, that is a rea­son­ab­le time for a game of this pri­ce bra­cket (also the game is cur­r­ent­ly 80% off on Steam).
You have the opti­on of using your stan­dard key­board and mou­se or an Xbox type con­trol­ler.
I figu­red the Xbox con­trol­ler would be bet­ter sui­ted for play as well due to Deadlight’s pedigree.
Con­trol­ling the cha­rac­ter is fair­ly strai­ght for­ward and respon­si­ve, alt­hough the­re were a few times whe­re a slight lag bet­ween my actions and the input may have been respon­si­ble for a death or three.
Howe­ver, for the most part the con­trols do their job and are easy to learn.
Fire­arms feel pret­ty good and only make you wish for more gun­play than what exists in the sto­ry.
Using your melee wea­pon, the axe, feels very well done.
Slow and hea­vy, the way a huge fireman’s axe should feel.
When you sink the axe in a zombie’s chest you can almost feel the axe bit­ing in.

Axe Attack!


Along the way you will come across various dia­ry pages from your character’s dia­ry, to per­so­nal mement­os from peop­le who got kil­led during the apo­ca­lyp­se.
While collec­ting the­se items isn’t requi­red to finish the game, they do pro­vi­de a litt­le more depth to a short jour­ney.

Scrapbook Collectable
One of the collec­ta­bles you can find in your scrap­book.

Once you have finis­hed the main sto­ry, a “Night­ma­re” mode is unlo­cked that allows you to restart fresh with a new out­fit.
The dif­fe­rence in Night­ma­re mode besi­de your cos­tu­me is that when you die you have to start over from the begin­ning, so lovers of rogue­like games will appre­cia­te this mode.
With the game being a Steam purcha­se the­re is also Steam achie­ve­ments to be ear­ned, a few con­cept art pie­ces and a few “making of” vide­os that can be acces­sed from the main menu that get unlo­cked as you pro­gress.
To see the alter­na­te ending you have to finish the game on the Night­ma­re mode.
Simi­lar to Alan Wake the character’s jour­nal, while incom­ple­te at the start of the sto­ry, can be com­ple­ted by fin­ding lost pages.
Once you have the com­ple­te 60 page dai­ry you can read more back­sto­ry about the main cha­rac­ter and the events lea­ding up to the zom­bie apo­ca­lyp­se.


If you are loo­king for a zom­bie game that doesn’t fol­low the cur­rent copy and pas­te for­mu­la, then you might want to give Dead­light a swing.
While I felt the jum­ping con­trols were a litt­le off at times, and one or two sec­tions had me get­ting a litt­le ticked-off, the­re wasn’t anything too bad that most peop­le couldn’t work through.
The worst “pro­blem” for the game seems to be the bro­ken lea­der­boards, which does affect two or three of the Steam achie­ve­ments.
Given that the game was released under the Games for Win­dows ban­ner when it was initi­al­ly released, I assu­me the­re is a pro­blem with the lea­der­board ser­vers not sho­wing as Games for Win­dows Live has been shut down.
I have done some rese­arch and can not find a defi­ni­te ans­wer as any ques­ti­ons and pro­blems others have posted in regards to the online con­nec­tion have been out­da­ted by at least a year so buy­er bewa­re in that regard.

No Connection to Leaderboards
Could not get game to con­nect to Lea­der­boards after several days of try­ing.

Gen­re: Action-Adven­ture
Review­ed on: PC
Sys­tems: PC, Xbox 360 (digi­tal only)
Pri­ce: $15 (cur­r­ent­ly 80% off on Steam)
Deve­lo­per: Tequil­la Works
Publisher: Micro­soft Stu­di­os

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