By Shamus Posted Sunday May 12, 2013

Filed under: Game Reviews 69 comments


I said in the podcast that Deadlight felt like the old Prince of Persia. I meant that in both the positive and the negative sense. It’s got some wonderful, simple mechanics that lend themselves to interesting puzzles and rewarding play, but it’s also got some irritating design decisions that undermine that fun and turn puzzles into a teeth-grinding chore.

I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but this is yet another game I feel like I should love, but can’t.

The gist of the game is that it’s the zombie apocalypse, you’re a middle-aged guy with a hobo beard, and you’re looking for your family. The game is really a 2D platformer, although the scenes themselves have visual depth. You can see shadows (which are zombies, because apparently the new rule is that every game has to come up with a completely new replacement word for “zombie”) in the background, and sometimes they’ll lurch into the foreground and become involved with the 2D plane you’re trying to traverse.


The environments are nice and moody, with the surprising (but effective) visual style of making the backgrounds well-lit and the foreground play area entirely silhouette. This gives the game its wonderful spooky tone, and also lets the play area stand out from the scenery. (Except when it doesn’t. I’ll get to that in a minute.)

You can jump and climb and grab and sprint and crawl and (sometimes) shoot. You can also shout to draw zombies towards you, which is useful for luring them into traps or getting them to bunch up so you can get around them. The mechanics are solid and the gameplay feels right. This is where the comparison to the original Prince of Persia comes in. Your character has enough weight and momentum to feel real, but not so much that he feels sluggish or cumbersome. There’s a sweet spot between characters who reverse direction instantly (which feels bland and cartoony) and characters that change direction slowly (which feels frustrating) and I think this game nails it.

But despite this strong foundation of mechanics and style, the game falls apart for me. What we have here are a number of minor flaws that exacerbate one another until they combine to form an intensely frustrating experience.

An example:


It’s early in the game and I’m down in the sewer tunnels. I’m sliding downhill, jumping over spikes in the floor, when some text flashes at the top of the screen, explaining how to perform a… what? Oh. Never mind. I’m dead now because I was trying to read the tooltip ambush and not watching my guy.

Here’s the anatomy of the challenge as it’s presented:


This brings us to the problem of lingering death penalties. When you die, the screen fades to red. And then it prompts you to press a button to restart. Then there’s a loading screen, which I have no idea why you need a loading screen in this context, but you do. It’s short for a level loading screen, but it’s obnoxiously long if all you wanted to do is back up three steps and try the same jump again. Once the loading is done the game fades in and you can play again.

So I get back on the slope, do the jump, and then get my text message. This time I manage to read it and figure out I need to press the left trigger when landing to do a roll. I have no idea why the game is telling me this now, or how doing a rolling landing would help, because I haven’t actually reached the part where I need it yet.

There are two nests of spikes I have to jump over, and it’s really easy to leap over the first and land in the second. So, I figure the “roll” move is there to allow you to land in the spikes. The tooltip even says the move is used to “avoid damage”, so I guess that’s how we deal with spikes? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but a lot of gameplay mechanics don’t make a lot of sense. Heck, the spikes themselves are pretty ridiculous. It’s obvious you’re not supposed to question things too much and just go with it.

So I try a roll in the second spike pit and die. Hm. Maybe I messed up the timing? I try again. And again. Press the button sooner. Press the button later. Hold the button down. Each attempt is another flow-breaking loading screen as a few more seconds of my life slip away.

Later in the game, but still the same problem: Die, wait, click, load, wait, fade. Try again.
Later in the game, but still the same problem: Die, wait, click, load, wait, fade. Try again.

Eventually I give up and just jump the spikes without trying the roll. I’m not even sure I’m doing it right. Am I supposed to try and clear both sets of spikes in one jump? Nope. So I guess I’m supposed to land between them? That works. Then I jump over the second set of spikes and a ceiling-mounted spike plate slams into me.

O-KAY? So am I supposed to jump over that thing, too? It’s not even clear what’s setting it off. Is there a pressure-plate I’m supposed to jump over or avoid, or it this one of those magical sapient traps they have in videogames?

After a few more tries I finally get what I’m supposed to do: Jump the floor spikes, then do a rolling landing to avoid the spike plate.

The problem we have here is that the game is trying to:

  1. Teach you the new “roll” mechanic.
  2. Introduce the sliding jump mechanic.
  3. Have you execute a little jump maneuver you’ve never seen before and which is more challenging than earlier jumps.
  4. Introduce you the new spike plate hazard.
  5. Do all of this on a slope where the player can’t stop and analyze the challenge, and where the whole puzzle doesn’t fit onscreen, so the player can’t analyze the obstacle until they’re hurtling towards it.


The thing is so muddled you can’t even tell if this is a puzzle you need to solve or a maneuver you need to execute. And the game is full of maddening, frustrating moments like this where I was failing not because I wasn’t meeting the challenge, but because I had no idea what the game wanted from me or what I was supposed to be doing.

The game does a good job of giving you checkpoints. On the other hand, sometimes there’s a little animation that plays and a bit of dialog just after a checkpoint, so when you die you have to watch your character walk onscreen and say the same line again and again.

These flaws might even be a plus to some masochistic players. If you played Another World and enjoyed zerging your way through the sadistic gotcha deaths that game employed, then Deadlight might give you the special brand of abuse you’re looking for. And to be fair, Deadlight is nowhere near as bad as Another World. On the other hand, Another World had instantaneous resets that let you jump right back into the action, while Deadlight feels like you owe it a few seconds of your life when you fail.

To draw the same comparison to a less ancient game: Imagine a version of Mark of the Ninja where the game didn’t explain how guards work and you couldn’t tell which hiding places were really hiding places and which ones were just scenery until you’d died a couple of times. You couldn’t see grapple points, you couldn’t see guard vision or alert level, and there were sometimes surprise insta-kill traps sprinkled around. Instead of giving you tools to solve problems, the game had one specific solution in mind and when you failed you couldn’t tell if you were doing the wrong thing or if you’d done the right thing but failed to execute it properly. That’s what Deadlight feels like.

Once again: The moment when the player is being swarmed by zombies is a terrible time to begin the, “Hey, listen! Here’s how to switch weapons!” tutorial.
Once again: The moment when the player is being swarmed by zombies is a terrible time to begin the, “Hey, listen! Here’s how to switch weapons!” tutorial.

Too many puzzles were ambiguous, or spiked with DIAS tricks. I can’t really fault the game just for being “hard”, since I can’t tell what the designer was going for. If the idea was to present you with puzzles to beat with trial-and-error, then the after-death reset should be instant and not lingering. If the idea was to challenge the player with platforming jumps, then the game really, really needed to make the challenges clearer. And in either case, the game should never, ever be throwing you control tutorials in the middle of insta-kill threats. Gah.

It’s worth a look, particularly if you liked the original Prince of Persia or Another world. Just know what you’re getting into.


From The Archives:

69 thoughts on “Deadlight

  1. Kiiratam says:

    Though if you just want to watch the game sans frustration, there was a pretty good Let’s Play of it in the LPArchives.

    1. Usually_Insane says:

      The one by Niggurath?

      Well, that was my sunday gone :D

      1. Kiiratam says:

        Truly, I am a monster.

      2. Charles Henebry says:

        That is a fantastic let’s play. Fun to sit back and watch the game like it’s a movie.

        Funny that the ending dialogue puts such stress on CHOICE, in a game that appears to offer just a single viable path through its obstacle course and, whenever a moral decision comes along, strips control from the player altogether.

        1. MikhailBorg says:

          Holy crap, was the writing in that game bad. It would be one thing if they handwaved away plot questions, but to specifically ask questions and then never get around to answering them is really annoying.

          How did the Rat know Wayne’s name? Why was the New Law so desperate to gun down a single teenage survivor? Why was there an intact Canadian chopper sitting abandoned outside the stadium? With a base under siege by zomshadows, why was the New Law spending precious ammo and aviation fuel wandering the city gunning down the living for kicks? After all these months trapped in the city, where was the New Law getting food? How did Wayne survive the incident we see in the flashback at the end, and why does he commit apparent suicide after having his life-affirming epiphany? After trying desperately to kill Wayne for an entire level, why did the New Law dump him unbound in an easily-escapable room? Why does everyone in the city have the ID of a serial killer on their corpse? And finally, apparently in this universe Kennedy backed down on the Cuban missile crisis and we are now “paying the price”. What price, and what does that have to do with anything else in this plot?

          There are several points where the game implies this is not even Wayne’s real world, but a literal hell. That would make more sense, but though the writers tease us with it, they refuse to go anywhere with that idea either.

          Pretty game, though.

  2. Thomas says:

    Not Using the Z Word is one of the weirder tropes. I guess the ‘Oh it’s another zombie/book/game’ feeling is worse if you actually call them zombies? And the word/zombies are always a little bit silly so you can make something about more serious by calling them Walkers or whatever

    1. Brandon says:

      What have you done. :( TVTropes is going to eat my afternoon now.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        Think of it as using your afternoon to further immunize yourself to future TVTropes links, since eventually you’ll have read most of the articles.

        …I’m being a hopeful, of course. Sometimes its grip is just too strong.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Far as I’m aware in TWD the idea was to divorce the reader (since we’re talking about the comic, sorry, graphics novel) from genre savvynes. They made it a point that the concept of “zombies” was not present in the culture of the presented world. To be fair it would probably be worse if the characters in the setting spontaneously came up with the world “zombie,” which is an alien term to the western languages, simply because it would be the term familiar to the reader.

      On the other hand, while I can understand that some authors don’t want to use the term because they wish to maintain the “living dead” as a mysterious phenomenon, at least for the characters if not for the readers, I wish that most of those authors rather than try to mark their zombie stories as distinct started telling stories about something other than zombies.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        “Zombie” is alien to western Languages?
        Right now it is about as commonplace as it will ever get, and I probably more commenplace than it would be in any other language if zombie stories did not exist.

        Therefore, if the dead came back from the grave anytime in the last ten to next twenty years (and probably well beyond that) I’d be surprised if they were not being called “zombies”, even if they were completely different to the fictional zombies in some way.

        1. swenson says:

          It’s from the Bantu language and is related to the voodoo religion. If it hadn’t gotten picked up by zombie movies and the like, it never would’ve made its way into Western languages. In a world where the idea never got into popular media, there is no possible way people would just come up with the term.

          1. Thomas says:

            Im almost certain that the term zombie was incommonparlance. way before zombie films. There was a. big voodoo phase and lotsofstories. about suggestion and taking control of people. might even have been in an agatha christie?

            1. Thomas says:

              So for the typing, for some reason I’m really bad at touch keyboards, luckily I’ve come to associate so heavily with my gravatar that to me it looks like an entirely different person =D

              Anyway, zombies and zombie films go back way further than I imagined so I’ve gone from almost certain to incredibly doubtful. Even if I was right, it wouldn’t be used in a way that would link easily to the living dead

        2. Raygereio says:

          “Zombie” is alien to western Languages?

          The word Zombie can be traced back the voodoo traditions that originated in West-Africa (though while the word Zombie has non-western roots, the basic concept behind the word – animated corpses – is more common and can be found in various cultures).

          But that sort of thing is really only of interest to people who are into entymology. For everyone who isn’t, it’s no more important to know the origin of the word Zombie, then it is to know the origin of schadenfreude or chauffeur.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I… have to admit that I know the etymology of both without checking. That said I did study linguistics so…

          2. anaphysik says:


            It should come as no surprise to people who know me to learn that I giggled at that typo.

        3. Yeah, but I see what he’s getting at. Zombies aren’t like a traditional European thing, they were invented fairly recently in Haiti, in a culture made of a mix of different African stuff plus French, and then nobody elsewhere heard about them for a while after that and they only really came to their current form in Romero movies. Compared to zombies, even vampires are venerable.

          So like it would be really weird to do a werewolf thing and not call it a werewolf because the concept goes back past medieval times and the word itself is so old it’s Anglo-Saxon derived. But zombie? A very slight shift to the world, very slightly different alternate history, and the word either wouldn’t exist or would be solely associated with a kind of half dead servant of bad-guy Voodoo practitioners, the kind of thing only devotees of the esoteric had ever heard of.
          It’s true that there are plenty of traditions of pretty dumb dangerous shambling dead. If people are going to call their zombies something else, it’d be nice if they drew on some of those traditions. How about calling your zombies “draugs” for instance? (Draugs are an old Norse thing, a good reason not to rob a grave)

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Skyrim did that with Draugr, but to me it just felt like another rename. Still, they were more interesting than most zombies I hear about in games.

        4. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Yes, but my point was that the TWD setting is very explicit about the fact that the “myth of a zombie” either never existed in the first place or at the very least never influenced the cultural circle relevant to the story.

          In TWD it would be like someone seeing the “walkers” for the first time ever and deciding to name them “falumpfs”, linguistically and culturally it would make that much sense. When I said that the word “zombie” is alien I meant that it doesn’t derive from any linguistic phenomena in the Western languages and is a fairly recent addition, as such characters spontaneously coming with a random combination of letters forming the term “zombie” when no cultural transfer of the term (or even concept) occurred borders on impossibility.

      2. mixmastermind says:

        But Zombies come from a western language.

      3. Soylent Dave says:

        Except they do call them ‘zombies’ in The Walking Dead (comic).

        Glenn calls them zombies in the first or second issue, and characters periodically ‘use the Z word’ as the series goes on – they use ‘walkers’ and a few other terms for types of zombie initially, and it eventually grows into their group’s shorthand for zombie – but they still do use ‘zombie’ on occasion.

    3. The Occupant says:

      I guess the standard assumption is that zombie media never existed in most zombie media universes. Still, some of the name’s are every bit of silly that ‘zombie’ is.

      1. swenson says:

        A nice thing about Left 4 Dead is that zombie media explicitly does exist in the universe. It knows it’s not the first thing to use zombies, so why pretend?

        1. But it starts out with the apocalypse going full tilt as the setup for a video game. If it was a more narrative game or a novel/movie, we’d want to know how a genre-savvy world could possibly have fallen victim to zombies in the first place.

    4. The more cynical part of me says there’s also a desire to rename things to try and establish your own brand (which “walkers” does fairly well) or, at worst, come up with a trademarkable name that can then be used against competitors in some way. The latter is an attempt to “own the language,” and it’s about as appealing as the idea that a copyright was extended to the song “Happy Birthday.”

      1. Ravens Cry says:

        There is that as well. But, seriously ‘walkers’? Hey, I can ambulate in a bipedal fashion, does that make me a ‘walker’?

        1. The Nick says:

          Depends. Have you been bitten?

          1. Ravens Cry says:

            Not by a postmortem ambulator, no.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          That’s an interesting point, like I said earlier “zombie” is an alien term for western languages so it’s not a “natural” term, I always thought “walker” was a pretty decent term under the circumstances, the first thing that most people notice is that these are the dead that walk. Mind you, English is not my first language and while I’m fairly competent I don’t have the exact feeling for what sounds “odd.”

          Now I wonder what other names we’d come up with*, I think we could set up some reasonable assumptions here:
          -for argument’s sake let’s limit ourselves to English and world that were already incorporated into English.
          -let’s assume not only “zombies” but also other terms, like “ghouls” aren’t present in the language, this is an entirely new concept culturally.
          -one word, we’re not trying to create scientific definition or a description here, we’re coming up with something that could be called in the heat of a moment to bring attention. “Hungry bastard” may work for what they are but it’s kinda long and inconvenient, I’d go so far as to say that 2 syllable words are more likely than longer words.
          -would have to be something that’s relatively obvious and tied to how the creatures behave or how they look. Some group could call them “Harrys” because they had a guy in accounting who smelled funny and had a skin condition but that’s not the case we’re discussing. Similarly, while they are “living dead” calling them “living” or “dead” would be confusing.
          -again for argument’s sake let’s stick with TWD model: getting up after death, shuffling, noming on people, quick rot, only really put down by destroying the brain, can “hibernate,” gets into packs.

          So “shufflers,” “rotters,” “returned” (but kinda long, could be abbreviated to “rets” or “turners” but “turner” doesn’t bring an immediate connotation so it’s sort of a derivation), “biters” (but biting feels kinda secondary, the first thing people would notice would be that they move)…

          1. Ravens Cry says:

            I agree. If Zombie media did not exist, zombie would not likely to be among the word I would choose to use for, well, zombies. I’d probably call them ‘bastards’. It’s not like I have any time for anything more complex, but over time it would achieve that certain idiomatic quality. It’s also wonderfully easy to add descriptive adjectives. Fast bastards, big bastards, sick bastards, strong bastards.

          2. Thomas says:

            Undead and Infected which are pretty common z-word substitutes are the ones I imagine we’re likely to come up with.

            Walker always seemed like a queer southern US way of phrasing things. But I’ve never been the US at all so I don’t know if things actually work that way

            1. Cybron says:

              Infected assumes some sort of disease, it doesn’t really seem like something natural to come up with if you don’t know why they’re doing it. Think of Night of The Living Dead zombies, there’s no disease involved.

              Undead is a pretty simple one, though. I can’t see us missing that one.

              1. Ravens Cry says:

                Yes, but, again, this is assuming zombie media do not exist in that universe. Another culturally common undead most people are aware of are vampires, and zombies sure would not evoke a connection with vampires for most people.

                1. Alexander The 1st says:

                  On the other hand, people tend to think “Not staying dead when they should” for both vampires and zombies, so it fits.

                  My problem with calling zombies “walkers is related to L4D and/or other zombie genres where there are types of zombies.

                  When you tell your team there’s a “Boomer” on the way, it’s assumed that this is related to the other undead, but just has that one ability to watch out for.

                  If you call all zombies “walkers”, you run the risk of confusing functionality and recognisability with “Hey! Is the thing coming towards us a human walker or a non-human walker? Do we shoot it?”

                  If you use zombie, than you can say “It’s a zombie walker!”

              2. Thomas says:

                When they’re called Infected it tends to be a game/book/film with a zombie virus root.

                1. Fleaman says:

                  Not necessarilly. They’re called Infected when they LOOK like a virus is the root; i.e. any time the setting is modern and black magic and aliens are assumed to not exist. It’s common for the actual cause to never be revealed. That is, we call them Infected in Left4Dead because of the setting; we merely ASSUME that there’s no evil wizard.

                  In general, “Infected” is a good word since zombie identifiers present themselves like an epidemic, particularly (but not limited to) when zombies are contagious. “Psychos” could also be useful, since the primary identifiers are the behavioral ones. “Dead” wouldn’t really be that confusing either, since the main feature of the situation is that the traditional meaning of “dead” is no longer in use.

            2. Also keep in mind that “walker” is a term used in a comic called “The Walking Dead.”

              1. Thomas says:

                Even then, still gives me the queer southern phrasing vibes. Haven’t entirely pinned down why, probably because it’s verby and then the verb itself is a weird one to choose (but this reason does gets somewhat counteracted by the title, the first not so much) and is quite southernish in choice. ‘Biters’ is still weird but could be quite Australian

                1. Perhaps it’s due to another Southern idiom. I think chickens are sometimes referred to as “walking bird.”

            3. Sleeping Dragon says:

              I always felt that undead was quite hermetic and sort of native primarily to RPG and gaming circles before the zombie craze started. On the other hand it is sort of hard to work out what would and what wouldn’t be functioning in culture if we made change. Still, on the gripping hand, I would argue that it sounds good as a descriptive term but not that good as something in the heat of the moment.

              Infected, aside from bringing in the disease (which will become apparent pretty soon so I can work with that) and being a bit longer, though it rings good on the ear imho (again, not a native speaker), raises another problem, especially once you do realise that you can be infected. This would bring in more of a connection between the “infected” zombies and infected humans. On the one hand this could make it easier on the community if the thing was impossible to cure as it would dehumanize the infected person and make it easier to deal with them before they pose a problem. On the other hand we run the risk of humanizing the zombies, especially for people who have strong moral attachment to one/some of them or generally a problem with murdering something that looks kinda humanoid.

              I may or may not be overthinking this.

        3. If you’re fashionably dressed in winter, does that make you “cooler” than when you’re fashionably dressed in summer?

          Why aren’t birds called “flies?”

          I can vocalize, but unless I’m in the military, nobody calls me a “grunt.”

          You’re asking for slang to make as much sense as a scientific classification system. Stop it.

          1. The Occupant says:

            Actually, I am asking for something much more difficult. I am asking for a nickname that sounds like something people would think up on a spur of the moment and would stick. ‘Walkers’ just doesn’t to me.

            1. I can understand that. For me, it probably sounds fine because it has the same number of syllables as “zombie,” and it technically makes more sense in a way than “zombie” does. That is, the original zombie doesn’t eat brains or other people, isn’t contagious, etc.

              We’ll just have to disagree on whether or not it sounds like something a southerner would think up. The creator of the comic, Robert Kirkman, is from Kentucky, and having lived in Texas for a while I can tell you that there are some unlikely-sounding words and phrases in common parlance towards the Gulf of Mexico.

  3. Dev Null says:

    I _loved_ both the original Prince and Another World… but this sounds like living hell to me.

    Both worked precisely because the restarts were so quick. And Prince at least tended to introduce new challenges a bit at a time, instead of throwing things at you while you… (I tried to think of a metaphor for throwing you in the deep end that was better than “while you are sliding down a spike-covered slope”, but couldn’t.)

    Possibly I’ve evolved since those days to be less OCD and more ADHD. Progress?

  4. Brandon says:

    It’s a bit disappointing to read your experience of this, I was looking at that game thinking it sounded really neat and that I might want to give it a try.

    I still might, but I’m a bit more wary of it now I suppose.

    I wish we could be done with Zombies. I am absolutely zombied out at this point.

    1. Thomas says:

      There’s an absolute horde of Zombie games out there now. The zombie fad died a long time ago but they keep on shambling on. By now the whole setting is a bit brain dead

      1. Michael says:

        I see what you did there, I just can’t decide if I should reward that kind of compound pun… or glare at you in an entirely non-threatening internet fashion.


        1. Brandon says:

          I wanted to respond with a pun of my own but he took all the best ones. This reply is late now, so I guess it’s thread necromancy.

          Yep it’s weak, but it’s all I’ve got. Can’t brain, I have the dumb.

  5. Jokerman says:

    I played through the xbox demo and it felt to me like a game i “appreciated” more than really liked… So i didn’t buy it.

  6. Astor says:

    This is a game I’m ambivalent about. On the one hand it looks good and I agree with Shamus it plays good too (frustrations aside), but the story is nothing of note and comes with a twist you see coming from the middle of the game, voiceacting is subpar, and gameplay can indeed be frustrating, but it goes beyond the specifics of a genre. So if you find that slope frustrating wait a bit more! It has a very bugged timed obstacle several levels from here that’s completely messed up, at least the PC version from back 7 months ago or so. And towards the very end the game gets more frustrating with stuff like the game not telling you somehow got your gun back.

    In the end I felt it to be largely a “meh” experience, but I played it to completion, which – rather annoyingly – is more than I can say about MANY games that are better or I was enjoying more!

  7. Jamas Enright says:

    Would Limbo be a better comparison? That is another 2D shadow platformer with sudden death traps you need to learn. And I don’t recall sudden tool tip flashes either. And it didn’t take time to respawn after death either.

    1. Thomas says:

      Limbo was more of a puzzler than a platformer, and each death tended to teach you something about the puzzle

    2. Astor says:

      LIMBO carried ten times the emotional impact Deadlight could ever hope for, and we are talking about minimalist LIMBO here! Even as hard as Deadlight tried (Oh you love your family!) and tried (Oh humans are bastards!), the emotional torque was driven way deeper in LIMBO, both the raw and visceral (for example that spider!!) and also the poignant stuff (when you compare both game’s endings for example).

      LIMBO is also heavier on the puzzling aspect, Deadlight is more about figuring out which pole/ladder/rope/etc. your character can attach to and what sort of jumping will get you there.

      1. Spammy says:

        We’re going to have to agree to disagree on LIMBO having any kind of emotional impact. Well, an intentional emotional empact. I did feel an emotional impact, but it was being frustrated at the stupid DIAS puzzles the game was throwing at me. I felt like I had too little information to give a damn about anything that was happening. Who’s the kid? Calvin? Dennis the Menace? Some Kidd? A ham-handed metaphor for all mankind? Does the spider have a point? Does any of this have a point? I mean it’s dreamlike and nonsensical in a way I can appreciate but it’s not enough for that for me to really like it. I’m a gamer, I’ve been going through oddly connected environments for all of my days.

        Also LIMBO controlled horribly, I hated running and jumping and if a platformer messes those up it’s all over.

        My opinion of LIMBO is that it’s so darn artsy and deep and indie it forgot to do anything besides those things good.

        1. Fang says:

          If LIMBO carried any emotional impact it was the beginning and the ending puzzle sections. Those two part have nice, fairly logical puzzles that don’t require too many “Try, Die, Try, Die” attempts. The Middle of the game was frustrating and took most of my enjoyment out of it. And faceless Kid and Girl ho! Who may either be dead or not dead, or something like that.

      2. Zekiel says:

        Limbo most definitely had an emotional impact for me. It was an “ewwwwgh that’s gross!” emotional impact. The first time I met the spider I almost couldn’t bear to venture close to it since I knew I would die messily. I eventually got quite a way through the game and gave up because I realised I didn’t really want to have to experience any more of the gross-ness. Still, it definitely succeeded in making me feel emotions, which is more than some games I can mention.

    3. Urs says:

      Yep, I was also thinking Limbo. Which for me, according to Steam, has been 90 minutes of “Nope, do it again”, “Whoops, 2 pixels too far”, “Nah, not like this” and “Try again”.

      My tolerance for this sort of thing: 0

      Now, conversely, my current gaming obsession is centered around exactly this: Try again. The big difference, quote lead designer:
      “when you fail in Trials it's your fault. Not the game's”

      That said, I might give Deadlight a shot. I see lots of potential for annoyance (really, those loading screens?) but the atmosphere could win me over.

      1. swenson says:

        Which is why I like Nethack. That sort of permadeath game is the ultimate in fury-inducing died-from-nothing game, but at the same time, 99% of all Nethack deaths could’ve been avoided had you been a little more careful. Or a lot more careful. The point is, deaths are almost always your fault, and perhaps next time you’ll remember what wands and potions you’re carrying before you’re surrounded by killer bees.

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        This was the reason I tried, stopped, intensely disliked Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit (a ‘humorous’ indie platformer strongly endorsed by totalbiscuit a while ago) – full of dias twitch moments and lengthy re-iteration sequences… Blergh.

        Actually, you know, just platformers in general: Blergh. I’m tired of them being the standard gameplay setting of indie games, and I’m tired of the inherent DIAS mentality that platformers endorse by default.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The gist of the game is that it's the zombie apocalypse, you're a middle-aged guy with a hobo beard, and you're looking for your family.”

    Basically,you are a hobo with a shotgun.

    1. Disc says:

      Heh. Reminds me of Old Man Henderson.

      1. Ravens Cry says:

        Except Old Man Henderson would have blown up the spikes, zombies, and death traps in a massive boom-gasm of hellfire and TNT.

      2. Cybron says:

        Old Man Henderson was far more destructive than a random hobo with a shotgun. That’s just your random average PC (albeit not your average Call of Cthulhu PC).

        Also the protagonist of Hobo With a Shotgun is fighting for his family, not a horde of misplaced lawn gnomes.

        1. Disc says:

          It was more just the looks and the idea of a crazy old man with a shotgun. Never seen the movie.

    2. Trithne says:

      I look at that page, and I think ‘Rutger Hauer. Familiar….’

      It’s an aged Roy Batty on a killing spree.

  9. X2-Eliah says:

    Hm. So, would this game on the whole be better or worse if it just plain didn’t have the zombies as the core theme (I mean, zombies as a concept – no matter what name they go for).

  10. Shinan says:

    I somewhat enjoyed Deadlight. Mostly because of its prettiness but I also agree with everyone that it was… an okay game. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Though I also remember the spike jump where I just had no idea what was going on that I almost rage-quit right there. There was one other place too with respawning zombies where you seemed to have to time something but then apparently I was supposed to pixelhunt and shoot the right location to get through that took me a couple of tries.

    These kind of things really, really detracted from the enjoyment of the game. But on the other hand I didn’t find that many places like this in game so overall it was a mostly smooth experience.

    And it was very pretty. I mean damn.

  11. Jordan says:

    I can understand the desire to avoid overtly genre-savvy terms. There was a scene at the very beginning of Alpha Protocol where the protagonist asks the big boss dude guy person for his gadgets. Not ‘When do I get my equipment?’ but ‘When do I get my gadgets?’. Might seem small but for me it suddenly ceased to feel like I was watching a spy thriller unfold and instead felt like I was watching the developers at Obsidian fiddle around and play with a box of GI-Joes.

    ‘Zombies’ are pretty explictly ingrained into pop-culture as a fictional monster. If a race of blood sucking undead suddenly appeared people would not immediately call them vampires outside of joke-value. Because the real and the fictional are cordoned off to a degree.

    So when they avoid the use of ‘zombie’ they’re also avoiding the use of a term with explicit fictional connotations. You still recognise it as a zombie but nothing has to necessarily stick out as reminding you that this is a game about over-used flesh-eating movie monsters.

    Also, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who took a good five to ten minutes trying to get past the sliding section. Such a terrible bit of design. There was also a section later on where you had to run through a building while it collapsed, success there seemed to be at random since I generally ran through it almost exactly the same but I’d end up with differing amounts of success up until the run where the game arbitrarily let me through.

    1. WJS says:

      I don’t agree with this at all. “If vampires suddenly turned out to be real, we wouldn’t call them vampires because vampires are fictional”? Would you say the same for werewolves? Bigfoot? Space aliens? Can’t call those little green guys who fly around in saucers aliens, because aliens are fictional, don’cha know?

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