If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Deadfall Adventures will make certain other games, and fictional characters, very happy.
The Farm 51’s Deadfall Adventures, which will be available on November 15th for Xbox360 and PC, attempts to combine the type of third-person adventure that you may find in Tomb Raider or Uncharted with the action that could be found in your standard first-person shooter. Whether or not this combination has worked, I will write about in a minute. But let’s first talk about inspiration…
Even from the front cover of the game, it is fairly easy to see where most of the games influences lie. Deadfall Adventures has a distinctly Indiana Jones feel about it, with the artifact hunting and the presence of Nazis as the dominant bad guys. The puzzles and even the demeanor of the main character, James Lee Quatermain, will rouse memories of the Uncharted games. And then there is the fact that certain enemies can be harmed with a trusty torch – Alan Wake anyone?
Not that there is anything wrong with imitation, most ideas are unoriginal now anyway. But the problem comes when the imitator is a mere shadow of that which it is imitating. While I could happily live with another Nathan Drake in my life, unfortunately Deadfall Adventures just doesn’t measure up in any of the key areas.
So, in Deadfall Adventures, the player takes on the role of mercenary adventurer James Lee Quatermain, great grandson of the original Indiana Jones figure from books such as King Solomon’s Mines, Allan Quartermain. Young Mr Quartemain will find himself, in true treasure hunting manner, traveling around the world to retrieve parts of an artifact before they fall into the hands of the evil Nazis.
While the story is nothing new, especially to fans of Indiana Jones, it does set the scene and provide the reasons for risking life and limb against Nazis, Mummys and fiendish puzzles. In an interesting move for this type of game, and possibly only to make it appeal more to the shooter fans, the game is played in the first person. Whilst this does make the shooting side of things a little more interesting, it can cause problems with certain puzzles or anywhere that precise movement is required.
The Farm 51 seem intent on making the game appeal to as many gamers as possible, and this is evident in the difficulty. Right at the very beginning of the game, the player is given the chance to change the difficulty, but can adjust this for both the combat and the puzzles separately. This means that puzzle fans can lower the difficulty of the combat, allowing them to focus on the puzzles, and vice versa.
The puzzles themselves are of the style you would expect to find in well maintained ancient temples and the like. Mirror moving, tile shuffling, switch pulling, there is not a lot of originality here. That being said, with adjustable difficulty, there can be some challenge and player who enjoy this type of puzzle will be kept entertained.
Of course, the other side of the game is the combat. There is a little platforming style action, but thankfully this is kept to a minimum as the mechanics for precise movement are ungainly in first person.
The shooting mechanic is not too bad. Obviously it lacks the complexity of full fledged shooters, but the weapons have a healthy recoil which keeps in with the period setting. I did find that the aiming leans to the sensitive side, making the shooting a little more vague than I would have liked, but this is just another quirk of the game to get used to and overcome. The melee combat, which has the character unimpressively swing their knife, was underwhelming but effective.
The enemies are fairly run of the mill, Nazis have been used as the bad guys in videogames enough that we know what to expect. The real shock will come when the player faces a Mummy for the first time. These troublesome opponents are bullet proof until lit up by James’ trusty torch. Where the torch got this magical power, no one knows, but be thankful for it as the Mummys are the tough guys of the game.
A couple of other inclusions are the family heirloom compass which does its best to point the player in the direction of the nearest treasure, and Allan Quatermain’s Journal which offers all manner of tips and hints. There are even skill trees to invest in for upgrading and adding new skills, giving the player a chance to increase their character.
The game itself is not too bad, but suffers because it has been done before so many times, and done better. Deadfall Adventures also suffers from what appears to be a low production value, with an unimpressive script and dodgy voice acting, not to mention the characters themselves looking dated. One highlight, though, are the backdrops which look really quite gorgeous, even though it feels like we have seen them all before, maybe in a movie somewhere…
Just to throw a little more entertainment into the players face, Deadfall Adventures also includes multiplayer modes. These modes include your standard Deathmatches, both single and team, an enjoyable treasure mode which acts as a treasure hunt race, and a survival mode which can be played in co-op. If you are not a fan of Deadfall Adventures’ shooting mechanic, then these will be of no interest. But they are a nice diversion and simply add more content, which is always good.
It is not that Deadfall Adventures isn’t enjoyable, it is just that every concept within the game, from the story to the main character, from the shooting to the puzzle solving, from the multiplayer to using a torch against certain enemies, has been done better elsewhere. Deadfall Adventures is playable, but won’t incite any excitement.