January 14th, 2014
|11:16 am - In Which I Rip Apart DEADLIGHT - Which is complete.|
Before I start in I want to make a point. Deadlight is technically a fine game. It is possible to enjoy Deadlight and consider it a fun experience, I guess. I'm not inherently biased against zombies. I love platformers. It would have been possible for ME to enjoy Deadlight and consider it a fun experience! I should probably feel bad about disliking it so much!
I do not feel bad for disliking it. It had potential but that potential went nowhere.
Let's go straight to my raw notes and explore that.
Main character needs to stop talking to me. Like RIGHT TO me. -- The main character, Randall Wayne, likes to talk a lot. "This fire's in my way. Have to take care of it somehow." "Damn storm!" "Blah blah blah SHADOWS blah." And that's okay, I'm used to main characters that talk to themselves. Then he suddenly blurts out "No! Those are my friends being attacked! We need to hurry, get us down there!"
I looked left. I looked right.
...uh-huh. Look, it's okay when -I- aggressively co-inhabit with game characters because I am a crazy person. And I'm okay with wackier game characters talking straight at me, because I'm not supposed to buy into their lives as Serious Business. But I'm sorry, Wayne, you're a solo act. You keep to yourself on this one. Later on, he DID just start addressing all his insights to "Randall", so maybe it was just a one-time slip of the brain.
"They're not ZOMBIES dad they're SHADOWS get it RIIIGHT OKAY" -- We're told that it's 1986 and there was a "Great War with the Shadows" because presumably the writers were Babylon 5 fans I guess? Anyway they're zombies. "Infected humans", but zombies. They do zombie things, the game treats them like zombies, they're zombies. Now maybe there's a brilliant reason for them being called Shadows, but I will never know because of the ...
There's a 60-page diary full of backstory I just can't be arsed with -- JUMBO-SIZE SCRIBBLEBOOK OF LORE that I'm not plowing through. Interestingly, one of the possible collectables at each "collect a thing" node you pass are more pages of the diary that the main character wrote and... ripped apart and scattered all over Seattle?
Other such collectables offer such vital insight into the backstory as "It's a $100 dollar bill. Money is worthless now, but someone drew a funny face on Franklin, so I kept it." There's two kinds of collectables that are worth the time to find, though. One's a spoiler for later. The other...
LCD games are more fun than the actual game? Okay maybe/maybe not but I have played Game And Watch Guitar Hero or whatever this is for like an hour now. -- Collectable LCD handheld games. You can actually play them. They're kind of amazing. You can save yourself the price of buying Deadlight by going here and pretending you're in a safehouse away from zomb-- shadows while you play Parachute.
Mid-story bullshit, ho! -- So you start out on the run from Shadows, trying to get back to Wayne's friends who he bravely told to carry on ahead. He discovers they're being chased by a strange organization with military helicopters trying to kill them, and then ...
And then we divert into a sewer for Ratman's Magical Temple of Trials. A guy who lives in the sewer and feeds entirely on rat meat has constructed a giant spike-laden obstacle course which he forces Wayne to run through, to prove he's a bad enough dude to rescue The Rat's son. The spike course is about 300% more lethal than anything else in the game, so once he's killed Wayne about 60 times with his homemade death derby we get around to the alternate universe where Wayne's psychic and knows each trap ahead of time. By this point I was checking to see if I'd loaded up Limbo by mistake, but no. Still Deadlight.
In retrospect this section exists because otherwise the game would be two and a half hours long.
Stop CRASHING you huge pile of CRAP -- Oh, yeah. This game hangs and crashes a LOT. Like, once every half hour at least. I push PAUSE mid-animation and if I'm not careful, hang-and-crash.
So much would be avoided if only science had discovered the X axis! -- Okay this is a stupid thing to complain about in a 2D platformer, except ... it's kind of not? Zombieshadows come in from the background and foreground all the time. There are times I can SEE that the obstacle giving me trouble is three feet long and exists ONLY in the Y-plane where Randall has decided to walk for some reason. Dude, step around it. It's okay. I won't tell anyone. You're like a 45 year old parkour master. Come towards the camera a bit.
Stop saying words! -- Oh, the DIALOGUE in this game.
Guy: "I've been shot. Good god, they've SHOT ME! I'm bleeding to death, Wayne!"
Wayne: "What about the others?"
Guy: "The whole world is dying! I'M dying!"
Wayne: "You were going to die anyway."
Guy: "No! No, no. No! No... No!"
Wayne: "Where have they taken them?"
Wayne: "Karla's dead. And now you are too."
I can't stop imagining the face of the guy who wrote that. Sitting in his office. For the last two hours he's been sucking on the end of a pen, staring into space. "He's dying. But how do I convey that?" he muses. "I've been shot? No, just being shot might not be fatal. This character should make it clear he's dying." The writer spins around in his swivel chair. "I'm dying." he decides, and types it out.
His eyes widen. "THE WHOLE WORLD IS DYING." he says, in as deep a voice as he can manage. He types that out too, then leans back. The writer flicks the air with his fingers. "Boom. Minds BLOWN." he grins at himself, and then goes to get coffee and some bear claws.
I'll be honest, I'm just really bitter that I'M not getting paid to do that. How do I get paid to do that?
The ending is... kind of okay. -- All right. Here's where I drop some spoilers.
Randall's been spending the entire game looking for his wife and daughter, convinced they're alive. Along the way, he meets a number of people who die, and fights the "New Law", a group of army dudes who've gone MAD WITH POWER. Eventually he rescues a girl named Stella and they escape the army base. Cornered by the undead on a dock, Stella begs him to kill her so she won't become a zombie.
Randall zones out for about fifteen minutes to remember, oh wait, HE killed his wife and daughter! With a shotgun! So they wouldn't become zombies! Ahaha oops slipped his mind. Anyway, he chops a hole in the dock and dumps Stella onto a boat through it, after giving her a long speech about how EVERYONE MAKES CHOICES and CHOICES DEFINE WHO WE ARE so she has to CHOOSE TO LIVE, CHOOSE TO LIVE STELLA and then because Randall didn't choose to learn to swim, he dies while she sails off.
This is pretty much in keeping with the tone of classic zombie horror. I didn't hate it.
Except the OTHER ending is HORSESHIT. -- Okay, here's where I spoil the ending you only get if you beat the game a SECOND time on NIGHTMARE MODE, where you have exactly one life and you have to marathon-run the entire game. I youtubed it out of curiosity.
In THIS ending, Stella notices that he's got her sister Karla's necklace on! Randall protests that it was his daughter's, but he suddenly has a flashback. Wait a moment! He DID kill Karla and steal her necklace! Not because she was infected, as he thought at the start of the game (and told the player), but because he wanted to! And he strangled his best friend! And killed his whole family! Well golly gosh darn, he's been a serial killer the WHOLE TIME. He just didn't realize it! Isn't that funny? And you CARED about this guy! Ahaha.
THE REAL ENEMY WAS MAN THE ENTIRE TIME. I MEAN THE ARMYMANS BUT ALSO MAN'S UNPREDICTABLE MURDER FRENZY WITH ACCOMPYING MEMORY LOSS. DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU THINK?
At least by calling it "nightmare" mode it implies this didn't actually happen. Except remember when I mentioned the second type of collectable that matters? They're all ID cards, and INEXPLICABLY FOR NO REASON they have the names of famous serial killers on them. So... FORESHADOWING??? Ugh. Whatever. Fuck this ending and fuck the special conditions for seeing it. It's like the entire game was a joke and the punchline was empathy. I cannot begin to describe how that irritates me.
SO. DEADLIGHT. ... Uh... this is usually exactly the kind of thing that's straight up my alley. I love Flashback, I love Out of this World, I liked Limbo, I generally really enjoy this kind of 2D platformer but man this one just rubbed me in ALL THE WRONG WAYS. I'm sure someone out there loves this game but that person is NOT ME. This is the video game version of "surfing TV at 1 AM and finding an old movie on cable that looks kinda interesting but which you deeply regret bothering with later when you realized you could have slept instead".
At least it only took four hours to finish. And I did approve of all the achievements being named for 80s songs. Ended up with me singing Bon Jovi to myself over what I'm sure was supposed to be a serious plot moment. Ah well. What's next?
'Cause I'm a cowboy *bwaaaammp-chicka*
On a freaky mutant horse, I riiiide
And I'ma WAAAANTED (waaantaaaayed)
DEAD ER ALIIVVVE-aaah
See y'all next time, y'hear?
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...Wow, four people? I am genuinely kind of speechless.
You realize that most developers 1) do not respect their audience (or expect them to be as smart as you), 2) are aghast at the thought of story affecting any of the other pipelines (gameplay, graphics, etc.), 3) don't trust real writers at all to provide their glorious game vision, or don't want to allocate any funds for them in the already-tight budget.
See early Image comics for a comparable example.