Deadfall Adventures certainly has some entertaining moments, but the big guns won’t be losing sleep over this one.
It’s a funny thing. Does any game that people don’t know of even stand a chance this month? On one side of the month, FIFA, Battlefield, CoD. On the other, Xbox One, PS4. A brand new IP from Nordic Games released slap bang in the middle was never going to get the easiest ride. There was a hope amongst the HeyUGuys team that Deadfall Adventures would be a fun distraction from all the mainstream nonsense going on. A quirky FPS that could be the start of a new franchise, ushering in a new era that would continue right into the next generation. Has it succeeded? Well, no. Not really. Deadfall Adventures is the bastard child of Lara Croft and some kind of strange Indiana Jones FPS.
On paper, Deadfall Adventures ticks all the boxes. An atmospheric FPS with tombs, mummies, puzzles, a buxom companion and a megaton of dynamite to play with. Together, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work. You start to worry from the off as the dialogue is about as cliche as it gets. It’s definitely performed with gusto in a kind of b-movie style, so you start to fall for its ‘surely-it’s-intentional’ charm. After a while, the dialogue begins to get worse, the voiceover artists sounds like they’ve given up and you slowly follow suit. The motion capture is also pretty poor, especially this late in a generation. When I saw the animation at first the Xbox 360 launch title Perfect Dark Zero came to mind. Seriously. The mouth movements don’t really match up with the dialogue and you can never take your eyes off it throughout the cut-scenes. With the likes of GTA, CoD, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Battlefield near enough mastering the art, you have to wonder if this can really keep up. Sure, the six games I’ve mentioned had enormous budgets and the technology to create such great animation of the characters.
The point is, it is possible and it has been done so much better in the games which Deadfall Adventures would consider its competition. Considering the now seriously dated Unreal Engine is powering it, it’s hardly the fault of the developers. You just kinda wish that DA would step up. The CGI trailer filled us with so much promise, too.
The story – based around adventuring and the Quartermain novels by H.R. Haggard – focuses on James Lee Quartermain, circa 1938. Great-grandson of the world renowned Allan Quatermain, you possess a mighty amount of talent but a painful weakness – money. Yup, you thought I was gonna say he was scared of snakes or something didn’t you? Your job in the game, passed onto you in an early cut-scene sees you escorting the supernaturally posh – think PSX-era Lara – Jennifer Goodwin, a former colleague of James’ and a US agent (though I didn’t catch what she was an agent of. Just a US agent. Yeah, it’s one of those game narratives). Quartermain and Goodwin head to Egyptian temple in order to retrieve an ancient artefact called The Heart. Get in, get out. Sounds easy, right? But UH-OH, firstly Quartermain doesn’t believe The Heart exists – which allows whomever possesses to become immortal – secondly, the freakin’ specialised Nazi division the Ahnenerbe is also after the artefact. And guess what Quartermain and Goodwin do? Well they only lead them right to it! Shenanigans ensue, as you’d imagine. Ah, what a riot.
The story takes you across the world in search of this artefact and away from the Ahnenerbe, who are one step ahead of your every move. It’s a bit like National Treasure, with less Nicholas Cage and Sean Bean. Shame, that. Anyway, to the credit of the developers, the locations certainly do look nice. Full of detail and highly realised. I initially had some frame-rate issues, however a quick installation of the game soon fixed that and the result was much smoother gameplay. No denying it all looks rather nice in each location – most definitely in the Arctic – and the puzzles stopping your every move around the game are designed well, although sadly not too challenging as Quartermain has a notebook on him from his great-grandfather that explains how they’re all cracked. They still provide a little bit of deduction, but the notebook certainly pushes you in the right direction with little hesitation. The traps set up around the environments – such as spikes, fire traps, falling rocks, trapdoors, exploding gas, blades, pendulum blades - for the enemies are fun and certainly bring a smile to your face upon discovery.
Quartermain is packed with said notebook and a compass that points in the direction of all the little treasures that you can find in the locations. These treasures equate to upgrades for Quartermain, so it’s best to keep an eye out for them when you’re in new locations. You can also find treasure maps – normally found on dead bodies – to find the locations of the treasure. Early on, Quartermain discovers a flashlight. Certainly helpful, but goodness me. The flashlight ‘bright the enemy to death’ is a trick stolen straight from the sweaty palms of a certain Mr. Alan Wake and it shamefully has no qualms in doing this. It’s such a tremendous rip-off of that technique that game could have a giant ‘Alan Wake 2′ stick on the front and none of us would really be any the wiser. Break down the defence of the enemy with your flashlight – not all of them mind, only the mummies and other supernatural beasts – and then shoot away. It’s a tired concept and very boring after the fifteenth time in one room.
One thing that’s worth mentioning is that Deadfall Adventures is very aware of its source material and as such, there is nods to the original Haggard novels. You’re able to find quotes from the books – an original source of inspiration for Indiana Jones, fact fans – woven into the dialogue of the characters, which is nice. It’s a shame it’s surrounded by such nonsense that you’ll only notice if you’re a real die-hard Haggard fan. If you’re a fan of the books, you should probably take a good look at Deadfall Adventures, it will keep you entertained keeping an ear out for the dialogue you’re sure to recognise.
For the rest of us, Deadfall Adventures won’t be threatening your bank account when we’re all to busy saving up for our next-generation consoles. For PC gamers, there is far more out there which is more impressive and more interesting. For Xbox 360 owners, well, you’re not going to put down Battlefield or dare I say it, even CoD for this one.
There is a lot to like about Deadfall Adventures, it’s a shame that’s weighed down by a real lack of imagination, stealing original ideas from elsewhere and generally being very uninspiring.