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Deadlight: Director’s Cut

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Tequila Works
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (2D)/ Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:

Deadlight: Director’s Cut feels like a GOTY edition of the title we originally played way back in 2012, but the delay hasn’t made the achievement any less sweet. Fans of the original, especially on console, now have a definitive version and those who missed the excitement first time around have a perfect opportunity to jump in and try to survive. Among the many additions for this Deadlight: Director’s Cut, we’d say the biggest fall into the category of new visual content. If you’re totally new to the game, it feels a bit like indie side-scroller Limbo and Shadow Complex had a baby. The world of Deadlight: Director’s Cut is dark and brooding and mysterious, but still crafted with a mind toward edge-of-seat action gameplay that will have your heart racing.

Gathered together here outside the main story experience are a collection of Developer Diaries for browsing and a digital version of the book detailing the game’s background, characters, and reference art. We’ve all purchased physical books like this over the years for games we loved, but seeing it presented like this – bundled with the game itself – is a great idea. Best of all, after you’ve had your fill of nostalgia and soaking up the game’s backstory, there are some noticeable updates to the game’s graphics and performance that bring it up to date and make it feel more like a current release. Odds are you’ve purchased a bigger, better TV and sound system since you played the original game, so you’ll appreciate the difference.


The core game is unchanged aside from some performance improvements, so you can play through and relive the original experience again before branching out to some new modes. As a intro for new players, Deadlight: Director’s Cut takes on the zombie game genre with a revisionist history of Seattle in the '80s. Instead of waves of flannel and Nirvana, we’re dropped into a city besieged by the undead. Much like the central theme of The Walking Dead comic series, Deadlight: Director’s Cut tells a story that’s as much or more about the loss of its survivors’ humanity than just a kill-spree. The magic behind the gameplay is that you constantly feel at risk. So many things in the environment can kill you, and the choices you make keep you constantly on a knife’s edge of survival.

Those who bought this on the console in 2012 will notice a few key differences here, primarily the new Survival Arena Mode. The main game experience is a very linear series of set pieces, little puzzles that you need to resolve in a specific way. It’s possible to fight through many areas, but there are almost always alternatives to fighting. Survival Arena gives you a more open-world feel (as much as a 2D side-scrolling game can be open) by turning you loose with an endless wave of zombies in a space where you’ll need every iota of your combat and craft to survive. Once your luck or skill runs out and you’re dead, you can compare scores on the game’s leaderboard. Additional bragging rights come in the form of an amped-up difficulty level, appropriately titled "Nightmare."


Before you even worry about dialing up the difficulty, there’s the normal difficulty level to be concerned with. Deadlight: Director’s Cut isn’t easy. It’s a game with some unforgiving elements that doesn’t coddle players beyond the first few screens. It’s a testament to good planning and gameplay mechanics that you don’t have all that much to learn. A short list of controls and a limited inventory keeps you focused on what the main character does best: Run. That pulse-racing effect we mentioned earlier is no joke. You’ll have many close calls and not much time to stand and reflect or plan your next move. Luckily, there are generous auto-save points scattered through every level, so the frequent deaths you’ll experience are just ways to learn and quickly retry from a recent checkpoint.

Nightmare Mode basically throws the checkpoint system to the wind and asks you to play Deadlight: Director’s Cut as if it were a classic hardcore title. Imagine trying to play some old-school arcade game with a stack of quarters in an '80s bar in Seattle with zombies pounding on the door and you’ll have a rough picture of the intensity of this mode. It’s utterly nerve-wracking, but the reward is an alternate ending to the game that you can’t get otherwise. Like most of these approaches, it’s only here for 1% bragging rights, and notably for console players, this was previously a PC-exclusive.

Game Mechanics:

The one rough spot of Deadlight: Director’s Cut that remains wrinkly even after all the great updates mentioned earlier is the control scheme. It isn’t that the controls are hard to understand or use, they just don’t respond all that well. Wall jumping is the best example, since it’s a mechanic any self-respecting fan of 2D action and platforming games comes to expect. It doesn’t have to be buttery smooth, but it does have to work more than 50% of the time. Other controls felt slippery or loose, and we’re not buying the excuse that your character isn’t supposed to be particularly tough. Back to Shadow Complex as a counterexample, you start that game out feeling cool but underpowered, and by the end, you’re a superhero. We never expected that from Deadlight: Director’s Cut, but the controls definitely handicap performance.

Considering that’s one dark spot on an otherwise really bright light, we’d recommend this for both new players and those who played Deadlight originally after its release. The new mode alone is worth the price of admission, not to mention the related leaderboard. If you’re up to Nightmare difficulty, you’re a better man or woman than we are, and if you’re more of the reflective, sentimental type, you can browse concept art to your heart’s content. All the good stuff of the first game plus this many extras makes Deadlight: Director’s Cut a must-have version of the game some of you may have missed when it was first released.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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