DEADLIGHT: DIRECTOR'S CUT
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on June 28, 2016
July 4, 1986... It’s been 145 days since the outbreak. As I’m writing this, less and less of us are alive. Patient Zero... That damned Patient Zero! One case was enough to infect the entire world with a strange virus that reanimated the dead, turning them into flesh-eating freaks. Shadows, that’s what we call them. Slow and dumb, but ferocious and persistent in their search for human flesh. If you’re bitten by one of them... that’s it; no more growing old. You slowly turn into one of them, joining their ranks as they hunt for the last remaining survivors. And now one of us, a young woman named Karla, is bitten. The rest of the group isn’t sure about what to do, but I am. I’ve seen this happen far too often already. I won’t let her turn, I just won’t. There’s just too much at stake here; I have to find my wife and daughter and make sure that they’re safe. I’m so sorry, Karla...
Now, I don’t know about you but, to me, this doesn’t sound like a very fun place to live! But alas, this is what life looks like in Deadlight, a cinematic platforming/survival game by Spanish game developer Tequila Works. Deadlight was originally released for PC in 2012 and now, the undead terror shuffles ahead on your PS4 or Xbox One. While the original game was published by Microsoft Studios, it’s Deep Silver that has taken over publishing duties for the Director’s Cut. SO, are we just playing a 4-year old game, or what’s the deal here? The answer to this question is unequivocally NO. The Director’s Cut is in fact a remaster of sorts, featuring 1080p resolution and new graphics/animations and a reworked and much more responsive control scheme. Especially for the Director’s Cut, the developers even added a brand new game mode, called “Survival Arena” to the game. Plus, there’s a lot of artwork and, interviews and collectibles to unlock during play, so Deadlight: Director’s Cut is one hell of a complete package!
So, what are we looking at here; what is Deadlight all about? For those of you, unfamiliar with the game, here’s a short synopsis: Set in 1986, Deadlight puts the player in the well-worn shoes of Randall Wayne; a Canadian park ranger who is searching for his wife and daughter after a strange virus turned every corpse into a shuffling, mumbling, flesh-eating creatures of death and destruction, known as Shadows. Randall travels to Seattle, the Emerald City, known for its space needle, grunge music, excellent psychiatrists and, or so Randall is told, the last safe haven in the entire Pacific Northwest.
So, if there’s any chance of finding his family, it will be in Seattle. Along the way, he meets a couple of people and they decide to band together in order to stand a greater chance of surviving. Then, one of the group is bitten and Randall shoots her in the head, preventing her from turning into a flesh eating maniac herself. The shot however, attract every Shadow in a 2 mile radius, so it’s time to run. When everyone besides Randall is back in their shelter, the ladder needed to get in there breaks, leaving Randall separated from the group. He tells them to head for the Safe Point and that he will meet them there. And this is where our game begins...
Right from the start, the first thing I noticed about Deadlight, is its awesome art-style and its grim-looking environments. It doesn’t matter if you’re running through a suburban street, crawling through an expansive sewer system or making your way through a Shadow-infested hospital, everything around you looks extremely detailed and has been beautifully crafted into a perfect picture of a dying world. Buildings crumble and collapse, streets are cracked and littered with broken cars, busses and trucks and homes are abandoned. The entire world has “desolation” written all over it, except for those places where the poor undead souls that are cursed to wander aimlessly shuffle around until somebody comes along and introduces their heads to the business end of an axe.
Now, the previous sentence may give you the idea that you can fight off the undead horde that has taken over most of the city, but this is really not the case. Sure, you have a fireman’s axe to defend yourself with. You’ll even come across a .38 revolver and a shotgun, but with ammo being the most rare commodity on the planet, this won’t make you able to fight off every Shadow you come across. Instead, Deadlight encourages you to evade them as much as you possibly can and only engage them when you have exhausted all other options. One or two undead in your way won’t pose too big of a problem, but when you’re facing five or six of them, your best option is always to run and block the way behind you. There is a third option once in a while and that is my absolute favorite way of dealing with the undead of all times. Because they are quite dumb, you can ‘taunt’ them. Call out to them and they will, without fail, come shuffling in your general direction. When they do, you can use the environment to get rid of them. You can lure them into a deep pit, make them walk into exposed electrical cables or crush them with a car, using a hydraulic lift.
As Randall, you start the game with no weapons at all, but pretty soon you’ll find a fireman’s axe. This exe can be used to shove nearby enemies backwards or bash in the head of enemies that have stumbled and fallen down. The axe also comes in very handy if a certain gate won’t open because it is padlocked. One swing of your mighty axe and “Open Sesame”. The axe also lets you destroy boards that are used to cover up windows, thus creating an opening for you to crawl through. When you start playing, you’ll have a certain amount of health and stamina, both of which can be extended during play. Health, as you might have suspected, keeps you alive, while stamina is used for running, jumping and climbing. If you run out of health, you die; if you run out of stamina, you can no longer run, jump, climb or swing your axe, so be sure to keep an eye on the stamina meter when in a Shadow-infested area.
Apart from being infested by the aforementioned undead, the place is littered with all kinds of items and collectibles. Make sure you look around carefully, or you’ll miss the much needed ammo, health pickups, health and stamina upgrades and various collectibles. These collectibles range from passports of people who apparently lived in the city or missing pages from Randall’s diary, to three (fully playable) handheld games, designed specifically for Deadlight. If you collect a handheld game, it can be accessed and played from the game’s menu. Sometimes, a level will feature hidden rooms. These rooms might not be readily apparent when you walk past them, but by keeping an eye out for darkened doorways or open windows, you might be able to make your way there and discover what secrets lie inside.
The overall gameplay of Deadlight: Director’s Cut can only be called sublime. The controls are easy to master and very responsive. The remastered graphics really awesome and make this desolate world pop off the screen. Although the main color tones are dark and gloomy, the world of Deadlight is incredibly detailed and a feast for the eyes. The puzzles you come across on your journey are somewhat challenging, without interfering with the pacing of the story and the fights, or rather, the circumventing of said fights will require some quick thinking on your part. The use of sound and music is also something I would like to point out. The music used enhances every scene in the game, making the experience that more thrilling. And, to top it all off, Deadlight: Director’s Cut features the “Survival Arena” mode, which I mentioned at the start of this review. In Survival Arena, your objective is survive as long as possible, while fending off waves of the undead, using an array of weapons and defenses. So if you finish the main campaign and are not ready to leave Seattle yet, this mode might just be what you’re looking for. Or, if you want to play through the story again, but want it to be even more challenging, you can play it in Nightmare Mode, which is basically the same as the original story-mode, but does not save your progression. In short, this means that you’ll have to finish the game in one go, without dying.
As we draw nearer to the end of this review, I can only come up with one word for Deadlight: Director’s Cut, and that word is: AWESOME! It is good to see a puzzle platform game that does not feature a fantasy character or protagonist with superhuman abilities. Randall is just a normal human, like you and me. The story might be one that has been told before, what with the strange virus and the undead walking the earth, but Deadlight manages to make it a bit more personal, immersing the player in its dangerous and deadly world. So, to anyone who likes an excellent puzzle platformer, or to fans of zombie-related games, I have only one thing to say: If you don’t already own Deadlight, this is the perfect chance to get hands on with this awesome game!