Deadlight: Director’s Cut PS4 Review
Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Abstraction Games, Tequila Work
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle Players: 1
Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox 360
Tequila Works’ Deadlight was originally released on Xbox 360 back in 2012, and as it was a side-scroller, it was a zombie game with a bit of a difference. Fast forward to 2016, and a director’s cut of the game has been released with some new content, although whether it has enough to re-attract players of the original game is another thing that only each individual would know the answer to, but this Director’s Cut is definitely the ultimate version of the game, which makes it the common sense choice for those who haven’t already played it.
Being a zombie game, Deadlight is obviously set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak. The game takes place in 1986 and the protagonist is Randall Wayne, a park ranger who has become separated from his family before the events of the game. As things normally go, Wayne is on a mission to fight through the hordes of zombies (or shadows, as they’re known as here) and find his family. The story is rather thin on the ground though for what it is, it is decent enough, although a lot of the lines of the main character, and other characters, are delivered in a rather hammy, soap-operish manner.
Zombie games are ordinarily about fighting off the flesh eaters with an army of weapons, although Deadlight is less about confrontation and more about running away. Yes, there is a fire axe, revolvers and shotguns to be found, although ammo is scarce, and it’s best to avoid emptying lead into shadows unless you really need to, lest you attract a swarm of the undead to your location. Saying this, another technique that you are able to make use of is distraction – whistling or calling out to attract the attention of the shadows, often leading to some darkly comical results, with shadows mindlessly walking into traps and off ledges during their pursuit of you. This technique is useful though if you need to reach an area where there is a horde and you need to clear the path – just make sure you are on higher ground when you whistle or call out to the shadows as you risk being overwhelmed, possibly leading to your death.
Deadlight also has a stamina meter which must be taken into consideration. Swinging the axe, sprinting and leaping around the levels will be the cause of lost stamina, although a short breather will see it topped up once again. In a nice touch, the screen will flash when you’ve nearly fully depleted your stamina, warning you that you’ve been overdoing it.
All the running and jumping about is, thanks to the quality of the animation, a real joyful experience; you’ll be climbing and making major leaps of faith in a bid to find your lost family. The leaping from ledge to ledge, climbing and running feels very fluid, and with newly added animations, movement feels more natural. The bleak Seattle environment will also draw many players in, and the dark and stylish visuals give you a real sense of place, with many events happening in the background. However, comparing the graphics to that of the original Xbox 360 version, I must admit I didn’t see much of a difference, despite having the PS4 and Xbox 360 turned on and displayed on the same screen at the same time, and switching back and fourth between the two. The PS4 seems to have slightly sharper graphics with its full 1080p resolution, though not enough that it is immediately obvious to the eye, but the visuals are still wondrous enough nonetheless, and they can still inflict a sense of awe and gloom.
Puzzles are there too, although their existence feels more like a distraction to break things up as opposed to putting the old grey matter through any strenuous exercises. This should only prove to be a problem if you are looking for something to tax the brain, and with that said, this may not be wholly for you. Deadlight can be completed in around four to five hours, which may prove to be too slight for some. However, there are secrets to be found in this 1980’s zombie-filled Seattle so, for the perfectionists out there, there’s certainly reason to return to the game if you didn’t find everything during your first run through. There’s also the brand new Nightmare difficulty mode, which was previously exclusive to the PC version. The Nightmare difficulty is only for the skilled player, as dying puts you back at the beginning of the game, although it’s rewarding in the way that if you do manage to reach the end, you’ll be able to watch an alternate ending to the story. Finally, there is also the newly added Survival Arena mode, which I’m sure any player would be familiar with by now, and which also adds longevity to the game.
The Survival Arena mode sees Randall Wayne hauled up inside an abandoned hospital and your goal is to use everything to your advantage to keep the shadows at bay for as long as possible. You can use crates and boxes to temporarily prevent shadows from reaching you, and you have a full arsenal of weaponry and ammo at your disposal. Here it isn’t about running away and players that love full-on combat will be very happy to come back and play this mode, slaying shadows left, right and centre, all whilst climbing the leaderboards.
Deadlight: The Director’s Cut is a very playable game with a horrid and dark atmosphere, as well as some very stylish visuals, and whilst it isn’t full to the brim with new content for those who have already played the original version, it is still worth a play through for anyone who is a zombie fan and are looking for something that adds a twist to the usual zombie formula.