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Deadlight – Review

Tequila Works aim for the head in the latest Summer of Arcade XBLA release.

Randall Bruce is having something of a bad run of luck, separated from his wife and daughter, left alone having helped the surviving members of his troop of survivors escape, and facing up to hordes of “shadows” – they being the legions of zombies plaguing mainland America.

Deadlight isn’t your average zombie blaster however, with the bulk of its action – always viewed from a 2D perspective – consisting of running for your life, as shadows close in from left, right and even from deep with the game’s beautifully drawn backdrops. Think the visuals of Shadow Complex and the gameplay of War of the Worlds – but with zombies replacing aliens – and you won’t be far away.

Randall does at least have a few tools at his disposal, with fire axes, handguns (aim for the head), a catapult and even a shotgun all making fleeting appearances; while he’s also able to make use of noise to detract the undead, be that by whistling or else setting off car alarms from afar with a well-placed stone.

For all the forward planning in the world however you can expect to die (and often), a by-product of the fact that many areas require against the clock lateral thinking to survive through meaning that until you ascertain just what’s required you’re going to end up as zombie chow.

Elsewhere, other sections are so laden with traps that the occasionally fiddly controls seem inadequate for the task at hand – a feeling War of the World veterans will know all too well – and that’s without mentioning the fact that Randall, a forest ranger no less, can’t swim. Cue some rather bizarre drowning sequences which permeate right through to the game’s conclusion.

Thankfully when it comes to close encounters Randall is has rather more say in his own survival, his life bar affords him three hits, while the aforementioned armaments make short work of small bands of shadows – though running is often the better part of valour when facing larger groups.

In terms of narrative, Deadlight’s Walking Dead-like approach is content to stick to established cliché as he runs, leaps and fights his way across Seattle to a promised safe zone, Randall’s ever expanding diary, which details his life before, and after, the outbreak, does however mange to convey something of his psyche, and it’s the collection of missing pages coupled with the game’s frantic action that keeps the game moving apace.

Ultimately Deadlight – despite the odd moment of frustration – is an enjoyable experience; beware though that those looking for a sustained challenge won’t find too much value beyond their maiden play through with the campaign being somewhat brief and puzzles only challenging the first time around.

Score: 3/5

Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Price: £10.28 (1200 MS points)
Developer: Tequila Works
Publisher: Microsoft