“Deadlight” by Microsoft
“Deadlight” is a fun zombie game, and its artistry is beautiful. But I have news for you fans of zombie culture: Zombies are quite illogical. If there was a zombie apocalypse: A) Zombies would move slowly, due to muscle atrophy, so it would be easy to out-jog them; B) They would cannibalize each other to extinction, because, duh, they’re hungry and they eat dead flesh; C) Just hide somewhere for a day or two, because all those zombies would perish by rigor mortis, malnutrition, decay and cannibalism.
In “Deadlight,” zombies do move slowly, but they also stay alive while submerged underwater, which is a crafty twist, but it leads to this disconnect: D) zombies are not fish.
Dear game makers: You ought to equip heroes with embalming fluids to spray zombies into a peaceful state of rigor mortis. That makes as much sense as anything else in the zombie universe.
But let’s talk more about “Deadlight.” This is a downloadable, $15 game from Xbox Live. It’s short. I finished it in four hours. It’s a pleasant distraction during this worst summer ever for games (very few games are being released).
You portray Randall, a burly man with a gruff voice. It’s Seattle, July 4, 1986. Zombies have taken over. You’re upset because you aren’t sure where your wife and daughter are.
So you go on a quest to find their fate.
Unlike most survival-horror zombie games, “Deadlight” doesn’t give you massive weaponry. Instead, the game makers prefer you leap-frog over zombies’ heads, and sprint away. Much of the game requires solving platform puzzles to jump to safety.
The look and feel of “Deadlight” recalls 2010’s “Limbo,” the classic Xbox Live game starring a boy searching through limbo for his dead sister, primarily because the protagonist in both games is viewed as a silhouette in side-scrolling action.
So as in “Limbo,” you run left-to-right, jump gaps, and avoid traps. Its visual point-of-view often comes in theater panels, as if it were a play, filmed from the 20th row.
“Deadlight’s” background art is more colorful than “Limbo.” And unlike “Limbo,” some film scenes present plot, dialogue and comic-book panels.
Silly complaint: It’s dumb that when Randall falls in shallow water, he drowns. Who can’t dog paddle in wading water?
Actual complaint: It took me an hour and a half to download the 2 gig game onto my hard drive. This is why we need game discs. Patience is not the virtue of players.
But “Deadlight” is pretty good and compelling. It starts easy and ends challenging, when guns, an axe and timing patterns become paramount.
The useful thing about zombie games is, you don’t have to kill Nazis, foreigners, terrorists, cops, mobsters, elves or fellow soldiers, as you do in other action titles.
Although, what if the living dead weren’t evil? What if they were É Nah, they are evil and illogical. And don’t get me started on these new underwater zombies. They must drown.
(“Deadlight” by Microsoft retails for $15 for Xbox Live - Plays fun. Looks very good. Starts easy, ends challenging. Rated “M” for strong language, blood, intense violence, sexual themes. Three out of four stars.)
Doug Elfman is an entertainment writer for the Las Vegas (Nev.) Review-Journal. Contact him at DElfman@reviewjournal.com