Deadlight is the debut title by Spanish developers Tequila Works, and will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade sometime during the summer. It’s a sidescrolling puzzler/platformer which takes place in Seattle in the year 1986, though you’ll find that in Deadlight’s 1986, the world’s problems are of a more serious nature than whether or not parachute pants make you look like a complete tool. Namely, the presence of zombies, brought on by a virus that swept over the Earth seems to be the major problem here.
This isn’t your average zombie game, though. You play as a survivor of the apocalypse, travelling with a group that’s simply trying to survive in this harsh reality. As is often the case in these scenarios, the game begins with a member of your group having to be put down due to infection. But aside from the premise and initial set up, Deadlight doesn’t have much in common with other zombie survival games. Read on to find out why.
I’m just going to come out and say it – zombie games have been done to death. The sheer volume of them in the past few years makes World War II games, once overly abundant in the early 2000s, seem scarce by comparison. I, for one, will be incredibly pleased to see the industry move on to something more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, though – Deadlight may be yet another zombie game, but it manages to set itself apart, at least somewhat.
It achieves this by making the focus on puzzles and platforming, rather than shooting and wholesale zombie slaughter. You’ll encounter zombie hordes, sure, but you’ll generally need to figure out a way to escape them or block their path in order to progress instead of shooting them. Fortunately, your character seems rather adept at such things, and can run, jump and climb with ease.
One situation, for example, has you run across a bunch of loose boards on the way to your destination. When you come to the ladder on the right side of the screen and climb up, you’ll find a heavy piece of machinery, which you can push off a ledge, sending it smashing through the aforementioned loose boards and onto the heads of the group of zombies below. It seems as though Deadlight will contain many such situations, where you must use the environment to escape or wipe out your pursuers.
Graphically, Deadlight paints a bleak picture of 1986. It’s pretty impressive from a technical standpoint, making good use of lighting and shadows, though I would hesitate to call the game stylish. The animations also look quite good, particularly when you’re climbing.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Deadlight, as the demo on display was pretty short. What little I did play, however, left me intrigued in spite of the general apathy I feel toward zombie games. There’s no official release date yet, but if I was a betting man, I’d wager it will be a part of Microsoft’s annual Summer of Live Arcade promotion, seeing as how the big MS is publishing it themselves. It may just be one to watch, so keep it on your radar.