Deadfall Adventures tells a story of James Lee Quatermain, the great grandson of legendary adventurer Allan Quatermain who featured in H. Rider Haggard‘s ground-breaking 19th century novels.
Hired by a government-funded detective agency, JL is in search of a mystical treasure from Atlantis that will open the gate to the ancient Mayan realm of Xibalba – why anyone wants to go there isn’t quite clear, but it’s ancient and Mayan so who cares. OBVS, the artefact you’re after has been broken up into various pieces and spread across the globe, creating the perfect excuse for the game to take you to a variety of exotic locations to collect them.
However, it’s not that straightforward and obviously Nazi’s and the Red Army are also after the same treasure you seek, a treasure that is guarded by the ancient undead and hidden behind numerous “move-these-twist-that-pull-this” puzzles.
If you love classic adventure story-telling in the vein of the lost-world classics, you’ll enjoy Deadfall Adventurers, as long as you can avoid comparing it to bigger budget and open world titles in the same genre. This is 80s action-adventure, not Uncharted.”
Game studio Farm 51 of Painkiller fame, have created a game that feels intentionally retro so I had to adjust my frames of reference and resist the temptation to directly compare it to other AAA titles who’s territory it inevitably sits in. Deadfall’s mechanics and scale simply can’t compete with the exorbitant budgets of Square Enix, Ubisoft and Naughty Dog, but thankfully, Farm 51 aren’t trying – at least we hope they aren’t.
If you take Deadfall Adventures on it’s own merit, it’s a fun title with rewarding (although somewhat limited) exploration possibilities and provides a real back-to-basics adventure story, unashamedly similar to the adventures of India Jones.
You’re equipped with dual pistols, a rifle, a knife that’s barely worth mentioning, your great grandad’s notebook, a magic-finding compass, and a torch that apparently outputs direct sunlight. But rather than encouraging you to simply run and gun like a typical corridor style shooter, Deadfall allows you to use your various tools and even your enemies to overcome deadly situations. By shining your torch you can temporarily blind human assailants and also piss off the undead who will simply attack anyone in their vicinity, the torchlight also makes them vulnerable to more traditional attacks.
The different offensive options are a welcome inclusion in this game and break up the combat sections, sometimes blasting your enemies in the face is the one, but you also occasionally get the opportunity to use the ancient traps and ghouls to your advantage as well. Also, in keeping with their old-skool, play-as-you-want approach, Farm 51 have made it possible to alter the puzzle and combat difficulties separately, but we didn’t notice a significant increase in difficulty when putting the combat up to ‘Hard’, whilst increasing the puzzle difficulty made clues less forthcoming.
But unfortunately Deadfall suffers from some severely poor dialogue, with the lead character and his plucky sidekick British agent Jennifer Goodwin lacking any real chemistry or depth. James Lee Quartermain aims for charm and whit, but comes across as brash, and his inability to really interact with and explore the exotic environments he finds himself in is also a little frustrating, he can’t climb and he can’t slide so at times I felt more tinman-ish rather than bold explorer.
If you do manage to use your compass and hidden maps to good effect and wonder off the conveyor belt to locate cunningly hidden treasures, you will be able to upgrade your items and “abilities” but doing so isn’t a necessity, it will just make the latter stages of the game less troublesome.
There’s also the inclusion of multiplayer, but we haven’t (as yet) had a chance to play it before launch so we can’t comment on it directly, however there’s always some trepidation for new multiplayer options in titles when there’s no community to support it and when you’re competing with the recently released kings of online shooting, CoD and Battlefield.
Will Deadfall Multiplayer be prising players away from these behemoths in any significant numbers? It’s unlikely. But the survival mode may at least appease CoD fans still reeling from the omission of Zombies mode from this year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts.
If you love classic adventure story-telling in the vein of the lost-world classics, you’ll enjoy Deadfall Adventurers – for it’s faults it does what it sets out to do more often than not, and is mostly fun – as long as you can avoid comparing it to bigger budget and open world titles in the same genre. This is classic 80s action-adventure, not Uncharted.
3 DDs Out of 5
Deadfall Adventures is out from the 15/11/13 on XBox 360 and PC, we reviewed the 360 version, check out the gameplay for yourself: