Nov 13, 2013

Deadfall Adventures Review

Lights Off
2 Mediocre
Retails for: $39.99
We Recommend: $15.99
  • Developer: The Farm 51
  • Publisher: Nordic Games
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Released: Nov 15, 2013
  • Platform: Windows, Xbox 360
  • Reviewed: Windows

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, you play as a plucky anti-hero whose family contains a long line of explorers, and you reluctantly and begrudgingly join up in this expedition for the cause of money, and pretty woman.

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You play James Lee Quatermain, famous adventurer and playboy. If the last name, “Quatermain” rings a bell, he is the great-grandson of Allan Quatermain, in which a series of stories was written by H. R. Haggard in the late 1800s into the early 1900s.

He is entranced by the lovely, Agent Jennifer Goodwin to retrieve the Heart of Atlantis, once believed lost. What follows is a globetrotting adventure that hits all the usual notes as you travel from desert to snow to jungle in search for all the pieces. Of course, it isn’t as easy you think, as you run into Nazi and Russian resistance, who are equally looking for the same thing as you.

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At it’s heart, this is an adventure game. But wrapped around this, is a first-person shooter, with inspirations of Uncharted and Alan Wake. It combines both styles of gameplay, but never doing it well enough. James Lee Quatermain will have grandiose moments where he’s falling off arctics shelves, sliding down ruins of a Mayan temple, or otherwise in incredible danger, narrowly escaping in tact. But this is the extent to the game’s set pieces, but the locations themselves steal the show.

In combat, you’ll not only fight humans, but non-humans. Mummies, in fact. And you’ll use your flash light just like in Alan Wake to weaken them to be able to be killed. Your flashlight recharges pretty quickly, and provides a bit of tactics and tension while playing.

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“Oh great, more dudes to kill.” Yes Mr. Quatermain, you just summed up my feelings of shooting people in this game. Mindless AI, good quantity of human enemies, don’t do anything interesting. At least the mummies you encounter, the only non-human types, simply run straight at you.

Randomly, Allan Quatermain spouts anachronistic lines of dialogue from movies, that haven’t existed. Quoting the likes of Al Pacino from “Scent of a Woman”, exclaiming “Hooah!”. It doesn’t break the game or anything, but it being so out of place just brings on confusion more than any puzzle you’ll come across.

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While adventuring, you’ll be required to solve puzzles to progress. Luckily the game allows you to set two difficulties, one for puzzle, and one for combat: easy, medium, and hard. Though once it is set, you cannot change them again. The puzzles come often, and are unique and are never to repeat.

There are hidden treasures in the game, and serve dual-purposes. The first of which makes a collectible for the game, the other is that if you collect enough of them, can be turned in at shrines to further James’ abilities, such as more health, more stamina, less recoil, and a faster rate of fire on weapons. They’re pretty tame. Most levels have more booby traps than Kevin McCallister’s house in Home Alone.

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Deadfall looks and plays great on Unreal Engine 3. Each location is incredibly detailed with foliage, running water, and stunning sunlight. In the opening area, the sun has that terrific heat-wash that distorts its perfect circle shape. Textures are incredibly detailed and lifelike. The use of light and shadows really gives each location a real sense of place. However, character models animate poorly and don’t look very good up close.

The music that runs throughout the game, even sounds similarly to Greg Edmundson’s score from Uncharted, whether purposefully or not, sounds good and fits the era.

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The game features a Survival mode, a cooperative (or solo) adventure of surviving waves of enemies for as long as possible, an endless mode if you will. You earn new weapons at the end of a round, able to be retrieved in a vault. And you have opportunities to conserve ammo by using the level’s traps against mummies.

At the time of this review, I was not able to play or experience the multiplayer. Nor were there options for bot matches to gather the feel of what would be a game against human opponents. However, exploring options and setting up private matches for myself, it features familiar modes such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Artifact (Flag). Last Man Standing is an elimination match type, where there can only be one winner. Among the modes, Treasure Hunt and Team Treasure Hunt, with the goal of finding the randomly dropped treasure first, and depositing it in the designated spot for points seems to be where the most fun would be.

The multiplayer seems perfectly fine from the outset, but I don’t see anyone playing this more than a few times with friends before moving on.

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The thing is, there’s really nothing like Deadfall Adventures, really anywhere, let alone on PC or Xbox 360. Sure, you have your share of adventure games, but this feels more alive and interactive with the inclusion of combat. When it comes time to shoot, mindless AI is at your disposal. When it comes to puzzles, you may fumble your way through most of them. There’s an ark full of secrets to uncover. In games that over-utilize hidden trinkets, Deadfall Adventures uses them smartly and fits inside the universe. It’s just a shame that the writing, voice acting, overall shooting and puzzles don’t hold up to what would otherwise be a great game. While it combines elements of other games, you will have a more enjoyable experience playing those games separately.

A Steam code for the game was provided by PR for review purposes