Deadlight

If we ignore the zombies — because every game has zombies these days, like it or not — Deadlight’s style immediately calls to mind games like Out of this World and Prince of Persia. It is both another exciting example of the only recently resurrected puzzle-platformer genre and a prime showing of why this style of game was long dead. Instant-death traps are made frustrating by longer-than-they-should-be load times and and “gotcha!” game mechanics force repeats of exciting moments (like a frantic helicopter chase) and makes them tiring in retrospect. The game does score a few points, however, by using its zombies as puzzles/obstacles more often than it uses them as generic, shambling enemy hordes.

But the surprise deaths and frequent re-dos pale in comparison to Deadlight’s greatest crime against its players: its writing. The ham-fisted lines of dialogue undercut a semi-interesting shadow/light art aesthetic, and the weak cast of characters elicit no empathy, since you talk to each of them for all of two minutes before they’re murdered by guns, or eaten, or otherwise killed. Giving its characters a spoken language, a feat never attempted by Out of This World, Limbo, or most of the other defining puzzle-platformers, did not work out in Deadlight’s favor.