Deadlight: Director’s Cut on PS4
For those who missed Deadlight back in 2012’s “Summer of Arcade,” this is a 2-D side scrolling platformer that is sprinkled with horror elements. Much in the vein of Limbo, Deadlight: Director’s Cut is more focused on dangerous environmental puzzles instead of traditional combat. This is the first time Deadlight has appeared on PlayStation and includes both the full story and the brand new Survival mode. While this new mode is a nice addition, the real star of this apocalypse is the campaign.
Deadlight: Director’s Cut follows Randall Wayne as he searches for his family in 1986 Seattle. His motives are enough to keep the action driving forward, but there is an intriguing twist near the end that may reframe the entire story in a different light for the player. That being said, Deadlight’s sewer section feels completely out of sync with both the story and tone of the game. It’s clear that Deadlight wants to go for a more grounded and gritty approach from the beginning, but once you reach Act 2 that concept seems thrown out of the window. This gauntlet of death traps are so elaborate at times they’d make Jigsaw blush with envy and only highlights how out of place this area is.
It felt like the developers wanted to have more challenging puzzles, but in order to do that they needed to fall back on the tried and true zombie trope of a crazy guy who spent his time developing overly complicated traps. Which is a shame since the rest of the game maintains a far more grounded feel that always seems to be weighed down by a feeling of dread. Though if you want to learn more about the viral outbreak and its effects on society, there are a variety of scattered collectibles and diary entries to gather. You’ll have to be quick about scavenging for extras as the zombies, known as Shadows, are no pushovers.
In your 3-4 hour journey you will come across some weapons such as a pistol and fire axe, but the combat in Deadlight: Director’s Cut is very barebones. While the shooting feels responsive and accurate, the fire axe that comes off as completely unwieldy. It chews through your stamina bar rapidly, making it rarely ever viable as a backup weapon. Unless you can pull off a one shot decapitation, which is far harder than it sounds, you will end up just swinging your axe wildly like a madman. Given the only way to perform a finisher is when they are knocked over, most of your time will be spent trying to just push the zombies over and hope you don’t run out of stamina.
While there is an understanding that melee combat isn’t ideal, the way Deadlight goes about it feels unpolished. Deadlight: Director’s Cut pretty much encourages that you avoid conflict from the start, yet the game has a bad habit of thrusting you into scenarios where you have to kill a shambling horde that has surrounded you. Some of these sections are purely frustrating due to your limited ammo and how utterly useless the axe is. Most of the game’s zombies can either be entirely avoided or cleverly dispatched by luring them into environmental hazards, so these mandatory combat sections feel completely out of sync with the rest of the game’s design.
Though that’s not to say the platforming and puzzle solving isn’t enjoyable. Jumping from platform to platform is responsive and solid, allowing most puzzles to be conquered with ease. You won’t find yourself stumped for a half hour trying to figure out how to progress, but they are challenging enough at times to make you stop and think. The addition of the undead only raises the stakes and tension as you frantically try to push a crate with several shambling threats charging at you.
However, Deadlight: Director’s Cut does have some weird difficulty spikes near the end, where the game foregoes the traditional puzzles and jumping for full out chase scenes. They are fun, but if you are spotted at all by your pursuers it will mean instant death. Thankfully, checkpoints are quite common, so you won’t find yourself losing a ton of progress if you die. Whenever I missed a jump it felt like my fault, as the platforms and traps all feel perfectly placed. Even if there is an entire underground section that is devoted to overly complex traps, but we’ll get to that.
Deadlight: Director’s Cut is a beautiful yet twisted game that feels confident in its own skin. It’s a game that offers more than slaying the undead, as the amazing art direction and compelling story was enough to keep me invested until the credits rolled. Even with some questionable combat choices and the odd spikes in difficulty, Deadlight is a game that breathes new life into the zombie genre.
Score: 3/5 – Good