Deadfall Adventures Review
Deadfall Adventures is a first person shooter from the development house The Farm 51. It strives to be a mixture of Indiana Jones and the Uncharted series, and for the most part it succeeds in this. Deadfall is full of throwbacks to various pop culture films of our youth. The lead character James Lee Quartermain, descendant of the legendary adventurer, Alan Quatermain, spouts famous lines from Indiana Jones, The Terminator, and at one point even quotes Darkwing Duck’s famous line, “Let’s get dangerous!”. Deadfall never strives to take itself too seriously, and because of this the game really shines among the plethora of first person shooters on the market. A great deal of care was taken with every aspect of the game and shows when you are running through the 11 massive levels. From the deserts of Egypt, to the frozen tundra of the Arctic, and all the way to the jungles of Guatemala, Deadfall Adventures really is as epic as it sets out to be.
From a graphical standpoint, Deadfall Adventures is a very pretty game to set your eyes on. The game world is massive, and at several times during my initial playthrough I stopped to take in all the gorgeous views. The game was developed with the Unreal Engine and it shows as the developers at The Farm 51 really know how to pull the best out of the now famous engine. It’s really nice to see the Unreal Engine used to produce something more realistic and natural beyond the usually burly no-neck hulking space marine. The lighting, especially during cut-scenes is also spot on with everything being rendered with the game engine. Each level has a unique look and feel, which is nice and in turn you never get the feeling that any of the levels are repeating themselves. The most stunning aspect of Deadfall Adventures may be in how it handles its large set pieces. In many games control is taken away from the player, or relegated to quick-time events, but here you get to experience all those major events instead of just watching them. This goes to show the capabilities of the Unreal Engine and the care The Farm 51 put into the game, and also shows how other larger developers cut corners, even on much larger triple A titles.
Deadfall Adventures tries to mix things up gameplay wise using both your standard first person shooting mechanics along with an adventuring aspect. When you start your adventure you are provided with two separate difficulty settings, something which I have never seen implemented in a game like this before. This allows you to better tailor the experience that you will have during play. You have the ability to change your Combat Difficulty if you are more experienced with first person shooters as well as the ability to adjust the Puzzle Difficulty if you are more the adventure game type. A mix of such different gameplay elements does not always work in games like this but Deadfall Adventures manages to pull it off. The puzzle segments really help to break up the action and give you a break to use a little brainpower to solve some puzzles that can be as grand as the game world you occupy.
The game controls well, allowing on PC for both keyboard and mouse as well as controller support. I spent a good deal of time swapping between both and for the earlier levels I handled everything just fine with an Xbox 360 controller, but as soon as the difficulty ramped up I had to switch back to the more comfortable keyboard and mouse style. Call me old fashioned, but there is just no way that I can get the same speed and accuracy from a controller that I can from a keyboard and mouse. That’s not to say that using a controller is a hindrance in Deadfall Adventures and if you are comfortable playing your first person shooters with one, then you will be just fine. One thing to note is that the game, for better or worse, is more akin to classic shooters of days gone by. What I mean by that is that you lack some features that many people have become accustomed to. There is no Gears of War style cover mechanic and you also don’t have the ability to go prone. Personally, I really like this approach as the game is much more visceral, especially during some of the large firefight segments.
Deadfall Adventures takes the very best moments from every, Indiana Jones film and transfers them into an enjoyable gaming experience. The game knows it’s taking quite liberally from the film series and does so openly, using these moments as not only gameplay elements but a chance to provide some witty dialogue on the matter. The game takes place in 1938 and stars the young, talented, and very broke, James Lee Quartermain, whose great grandfather is the legendary, Alan Quartermain. He plays the rouge angle quite well going on and on early in the game about doing this all for the money and not for some greater good, very reminiscent of another rogue by the name of, Han Solo, all the while claiming the tales of his great grandfathers supernatural adventures as nothing more than children’s tales. Deadfall Adventures will have you traveling all over the world and dealing with a large number of different enemies. From the Nazi’s that pursue you from Egypt to the Arctic, to the Russians deep within the bowels of the earth, to the Arab assassins that align with your enemies you will always be on your toes, and that’s not even mentioning the classic supernatural enemies you will encounter. You however will not be alone in your adventure as you will be joined by your partner and love interest, Jennifer Goodwin, a US government agent. Throughout the games 11 levels you will have access to Quartermain’s traveling equipment which includes a compass, treasure maps, notebook, and your trusty flashlight all necessary to solve the games puzzles, find treasures and even to fight some of the stranger enemies. Deadfall Adventures’ story really does pull from the great classic Hollywood adventure movies and in doing so becomes more than the sum of its parts. Not to mention this is a better version of Indiana Jones than Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull was.
Deadfall Adventures is a really fun and interesting take on the first person shooter but it’s not without its faults. The game does suffer from some graphical pop in when loading new segments and cutscenes that can be quite jarring. The enemy AI can also be a tad predictable with no real noticeable use of any kind of flanking or maneuvering to flush you out. The weapons are all appropriate for the time period but as the game progressed into its more supernatural tone, I really wanted to be able to expand my arsenal with something to battle the new enemy creatures beyond only my flashlight. Another thing of note that we don’t really see too often in first person shooters is the inclusion of several boss fights which for the most part work well, but on dealing with the final boss of the game I found that he would get stuck and allow me to just unload on him. This happened several times even after a few restarts of the same encounter. Another rare instance of a glitch would be from that same end boss fight. While switching between my flashlight and pistol combination and my rifle, my arm got stuck on screen. So I ended up playing for a while with a floating hand holding my flashlight and holding my rifle with two other hands. This only happened the one time but it was strange becoming a mummy killing octopus. The audio also leaves a bit to be desired as much to often the vocal track would cut out just prior to Quartermain finishing his sentence. The voice actor playing Quartermain also tends to ham it up just a little too much especially when compared to the rest of the casts performances. The last thing of note would be the condition I have dubbed, “Googly Eye Syndrome”. This is when characters in cut scenes are speaking directly face-to-face with one another but their eyes never really make contact with one another.
Do these shortcomings hurt the games overall experience? Well, yes and no. For me personally, Deadfall Adventure hits enough of the right notes to recommend it. It’s funny and supernatural story really help it stand out, especially right now when the first person shooters available are all mostly cut from the same cloth. It’s really nice to be able to play a game that isn’t a squad based shooter with a “Ripped from the headlines!” style story.