Deadfall Adventures: lackluster thrills

Deadfall Adventures is exactly the type of rote first-person shooter that gaming enthusiasts imagine when they rant about the genre’s over-saturation. It is a game that claims to pay homage to that which inspired Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, and Uncharted, but instead flounders in the shadows of higher quality work.

During my time with Deadfall Adventures, I got the impression that it was made for screenshots. The environments are genuinely good looking, from the right angle. The run down temples and jungle that make up most of the game’s settings aren’t as full as bigger budget games; however, most game worlds don’t look as crisp and clean at first glance as Deadfall Adventures. Unfortunately, the textures, and the rest of the game, don’t hold up to closer inspection.

The only other moderately redeeming element of Deadfall Adventures is the gunplay, with the mechanic’s best quality being that it’s inoffensive. The guns all blur together, with no single weapon of any type feeling significantly different from the rest. I picked up guns because I had space or because they were placed in front of me, but never because I wanted to. I was never upset when the game took a weapon away from me. I was never elated when it graciously set one in my path. I got the impression that the shooting was only meant to tie other pieces together, which would have been fine if those pieces were even remotely enjoyable.

A game doesn’t need to have extremely high quality motion capture for its animations to blend into the background. Players are accustomed to slight inconsistencies, arms and legs clipping through objects, lips not quit syncing up. When those animations elicit laughter it’s a problem though. Deadfall adventures is filled with limbs that bend to ligament tearing angles, heads that bob about in hilarious manners, and hands that never quite grasp what they’re holding. During cutscenes I was reminded of stop motion animated action figures. Characters’ shoulders also regularly slipped a bit too far down their torsos, turning their whole upper-bodies into strange cones. The story conveyed through the off-kilter animations fares even worse.

Deadfall Adventures tells the tale of James Lee Quatermain, a man with a name that no one can decide how to pronounce. Sometimes they say Quartermain, sometimes they say Quaterman, and occasionally they say Quarterman. They rarely, however, say Quatermain. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you what the story of Deadfall Adventures actually is, because it shoots itself in the foot almost immediately. Locations change on a whim, and with little justification. Characters seem oblivious to both their surroundings and what happened earlier in the game. Finally, all of the disruptive plot holes and brainless characters compound into a boring, incoherent mess due to lack of motivation. If a reason for Quatermain’s quest was ever given, I completely missed it somewhere in drone of Nazis and treasure.

Most disheartening, however, is that the swiss-cheese story, the crazy animations, and the uninteresting gunplay could have all been redeemed by the puzzles. The game seems determined to leech the soul from its own body before any fun can be had though. When Deadfall Adventures isn’t giving a puzzle solution outright, it’s presenting so little feedback that solving them becomes a marathon game of trial and error. The larger puzzles are especially guilty of the latter, with the game’s notebook rarely giving hints regarding more than the first of their multiple steps.

As the game progresses the life drains out of them, leaving the player to juggle combat with a mirror puzzle that requires no effort. They’re the perfect place to end a review at, because they so accurately represent the game they inhabit. Deadfall Adventures is full of potential that is dashed away by the implementation of its parts.

jgregory

jgregory

jgregory

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