Deadfall Adventures

An interesting footnote.

By Daavpuke, Posted 17 Nov 2013

Adventure games of old are out of style; it’s the first-person shooter that rules now. So, for Deadfall Adventures to make 80s adventure flicks hip again, it will go for shooting dudes in the face from a new perspective. Still, this journey set in the actual lore of the classic Quatermain does retain some of its roots with odd puzzles. Pairing the two doesn’t always pay off in execution, but it’s a try, at least.

Deadfall Adventures, Review, PC, Xbox 360, Nordic Games
Haha, comical events!

Don’t expect an endearing story, like some old heroes may have provided, because this Quatermain is not a lovable scamp. He plays the tired role of a grumpy mercenary, in it for the money, who slowly adjust his position for a lady or at least the lower parts she’s introduced with. On the way to recover an artifact, the two will come across some Nazis. Any subsequent events are lifted straight from Indiana Jones. It tries to be comical about it, but these lines seem more ham-fisted than the regular, monotone voice acting. Music is a tad better, even if it gets repetitive. Some ominous, orchestrated tracks follow gameplay at all times, even in multiplayer.

There is a much prettier wrapper on this mediocre sandwich than its sound may reveal. Varied, detailed textures surround the environments, changing the old ruins from sandy tones to greener jungles. Hieroglyphs around the walls get illuminated by torches, revealing cracks and the scattered dust in the hallways. Character models aren’t animated as sharply as they look, making them move like falling jute bags, but those are only an issue during the game’s surprising amount of cutscenes. Its bravado to color in the story is admirable, at least. Added effects sparsely spruce up the visuals with some glaring or lighting.

Deadfall Adventures, Review, PC, Xbox 360, Nordic Games

In pure format, Deadfall Adventures doesn’t sound like much, but there are additional elements to increase the atmosphere. Its main counterpart to shooting galleries is a series of puzzles throughout the mystical locales of the game. Often enough, Quatermain will come to an impasse with some strange symbols or ancient mechanism. Sometimes, a button will need to be pressed, other times it’s going to require shooting a nearby switch. As a change of pace, these enigmas are refreshing from just straight shooting sections. Still, their engineering isn’t as welcome. Every location will hold at least one puzzle that has no rhyme or reason. Even with the provided notepad holding clues from the Quatermain ancestor, there are those few problems with no logical solution. This means that there will be breaking points in the journey that will require wild experimentation, as some issues don’t even follow the indicated guides.

As a redeeming quality, there is another part of interactive content. Old temples are littered with booby-traps. Flames shoot from totems’ mouths, arrows come out of the walls, floors cave in with specific patterns. Here, the adventure is a lot more exhilarating, as one wrong step means a swift death and a reset to a nearby checkpoint. Outside of testing our hero’s dexterity, this triathlon of ducking and weaving through fireballs is also handy as an enemy repellant. Oh yes, these temples don’t want anyone living, not even those that are already dead. If it moves, it dies.

Deadfall Adventures, Review, PC, Xbox 360, Nordic Games
Watch them burn.

Aside from the gunned German needing bullets in their head, Deadfall Adventures also has tons of mummies roaming around. These foes don’t mind the ammunition as much, but they hate flashlights. Shining a concentrated beam on them makes them light up, after which those lead pellets start looking a lot more menacing. Light only has a limited power, meaning it will periodically need to recharge, leaving gaps in having an upper hand. When face to face with the undead, it’s wise to backpedal and shine accordingly. As a qualitative bonus, enemies both alive and dead aren’t just focused on the main character, for once. If a zombie sees a Nazi, these two will try to kill each other. In some instances, this can be a welcome trick, to let the impervious dead weed out the Germans with range, then light up the remnants.

During explorative sections, secrets can also be found or scoped out with a compass. These treasures can later be traded at a totem for enhancements, such as more health, less recoil or a better flashlight. Character customization focused on taking alternate routes further incentivizes players to think outside of the run and shoot basis. It’s not worth the strenuous effort of some more esoteric pieces, as a game can be completed without any improvement, but it doesn’t hurt those dedicated to try. It’s optional and that’s what auxiliary elements do best.

Deadfall Adventures, Review, PC, Xbox 360, Nordic Games

It’s a mixed bag of clever additions to the shooter adventure hybrid, but where Deadfall Adventures breaks apart is its repetition. All the game elements are introduced at the start, then recur with little to no surprises. One-liners are phoned in, puzzles are either illogical or serve no purpose but to halt gameplay for a minute and shooting sections are predictable. It does soften the blow that guns have some variation to them and ammo is spread around tightly enough to invoke change, but it doesn’t make killing generic foes more rewarding. They all fall quickly and easily. No one uses cover properly or outmaneuvers. It’s a basic gallery.

Later stages also throw confusing elements to the action, such as a sandstorm during a mummy outbreak. It’s not so much an alternative as it is needlessly hindering. Sand doesn’t change the fact that the motions are the same every time. That for just 6 to 8 hours and three locations seems emptier than it actually may be. Considering some time will be spent in looping corridors or during dumb puzzles, going through it all will seem like there were just a few truly memorable bits.

Deadfall Adventures, Review, PC, Xbox 360, Nordic Games
Every multiplayer match in a nutshell.

After the campaign, the game can be played on in a survival mode, where waves of mummies swarm the player or in multiplayer matches of several different modes. Here, level designs go all out to give its users a worthwhile experience of tiered platforms, corridors, different areas and most importantly also traps. Flames, darts and other atrocities are brought into this mode and that can catch many off their feet, as well as make tons of locations a risky venture to go into. Unfortunately, this is only theoretically appealing, as there is never anyone on to play. Huge levels and no people to kill don’t match. It’s also easier to evade a trap, if it’s the only thing moving. Only in the rare case that players group together with a dozen friends can this, otherwise potentially riveting, game mode become an option. That’s a damn shame.

What a troubled child Deadfall Adventures really is. Like the black sheep of the family, it tries so hard to give its first-person shooter peers a larger scope with puzzles, mysteries and other interesting ideas in a capable presentation. If only it had the follow through to not go for a dreadful tale, run of the mill blasting galleries and haphazard designs, it could’ve kicked that potential in the face of its brethren. Now, it’s a good idea, but that’s all it is; an interesting footnote.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

comments powered by Disqus


General Information

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Publisher(s): Nordic Games
Developer(s): The Farm 51
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 2013-11-16

View All

Popular Articles