It's a story many of us have heard before: in 1986, the world is in shambles. The survivors of a zombie outbreak are few and far between, and are simply doing their best to survive. You play as Randall Wayne, one such survivor scouring post-apocalyptic Seattle for his comrades and loved ones. But Randall's approach is atypical for the genre: he evades traps and foes, clinging to every bullet, all while drenched in a constant downpour of beauty and ruin.
A faint ray of hope
The focus in Deadlight is on the story which, while basic, is carried through to the very end by the scenario and the world your character inhabits. The gameplay is basic: you move left and right, jumping around, and keeping an eye out for the next thing that might kill you, even if it's as simple as a floorboard dropping you into a dilapidated home in time for the zombies to get to you. Unfortunately, it suffers in some areas. There are occasional "difficulty spikes" where the game demands very precise platforming, which and which send the player back quite a ways should they fail. But you'll probably forget about all of thise once you pass them and meet a fellow survivor on the brink of death, or enter a new area to take it in for the first time.
Fade to more than black
The gameplay is simple enough, as described above. But Deadlight's presentation is first-rate. Although the gameplay, discussed above, takes place in two dimensions, it manages to give the appearance of a full, beautiful yet ruined world outside of the confines of the gameplay. You navigate from a lighted mountain into the dark and ruined streets of Seattle, where ombies break in through windows on the backdrop, and the simplest facet of modern life has become a danger to the protagonist. The game's use of the colour black is extremely artful in this regard, as well: many interacble objects, as well as the floor you stand on, are a solid black in contrast to the background, as is your character, whose small sprite is dwarfed by the game world but whose unique silhouette nonetheless makes him easy to follow. The game is light on dialogue outside of its introduction but has strong voice acting in those rare instances where you do converse with fellow survivors. Overall, the game's graphics alone more than anything evoke Deadlight's title. The only quibble here is that certain decisions made to streamline the gameplay, such as the main character's inability to swim, can briefly damage one's immersion.
Dead on the money
Overall, Deadlight is not a game to pick up and play if you simply want to run and gun, shooting down hordes of zombies. It's a game that will resonate with horror movie aficionados, anyone who's wondered what a zombie apocalypse might be, as well as people with an eye for detail, who love exploring the worlds that games give them. If this sounds like you, Deadlight is absolutely worth your time.