When we think of notable action hero adventurers and explorers of the “Lost World” genre in movies and videogames, we automatically point to Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake, and Lara Croft. With these popular heroes, we tend to expect in-depth storylines, witty dialogue, dungeon exploration with tons of booby traps and hidden treasures, and of course, lots of shooting and explosions. In the spirit of these intrepid fictional explorers, developer the Farm 51 seeks to enter the genre with Deadfall Adventures.
Deadfall Adventures introduces veteran explorer and archaeologist James Lee Quatermain, the great grandson of the legendary explorer Allan Quatermain, a character from novelist H. Rider Haggard’s prominent adventure series in the 1880s. Walking in the shadows of his legendary ancestor shortly before World War II, James sets off to find the three pieces of the Heart of Atlantis, which are scattered from the deserts of Egypt and the frigid wasteland of the Arctic, to the Mayan ruins deep in the jungles of Guatemala.
With the assistance of his former colleague British-American spy Jennifer Goodwin, James has to fight a combination of undead mummies and Nazis and Russian Communists, who are also competing to find the artifacts for their respective maniacal leaders. Already, the story sounds like one giant mess of mix-and-match plots from all of the Indiana Jones and the Mummy movies, leaving many of us wondering why the Heart of Atlantis is essential to human survival in the first place.
In addition to the main story adventure, Deadfall features a multiplayer with different modes including a “finding the artifact” mode and classic deathmatch. There is also a survival mode, which is essentially a classic horde mode where players will have to defend against waves of enemies. Though one of the more addictive features in the game, the amount of available servers is very limited.
The different environments and dungeons in Deadfall, though linear, are large with some nice graphical and interactive elements. Although some textures occasionally fail to appear. The character models are also nicely designed, but facial expressions seem bland and neglected, if nonexistent in some of the game’s cheesy dialogue and cinematic sequences.
Unlike its super distant cousins Uncharted and Tomb Raider, Deadfall takes place entirely from the first person point of view. Despite a few interesting elements, the combat system in Deadfall is bland despite the amount of shootouts and explosions encountered throughout the game. Although there are a lot of different weapons ranging from pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, and light machine guns to grenade launchers, dynamite, and hand grenades, there aren’t many noticeable differences in handling and damage between each class. Furthermore, enemies tend to be able to take multiple hits before going down and bullet placement seem to be random even with well-placed body shots.
An interesting weapon and item of note is James’s high-power flashlight, which can blind and burn mummies (in the spirit of Alan Wake), allowing you kill them quickly without wasting too much ammo. You can also blind humans as well, which provides for some entertaining shootouts.
Deadfall also features a puzzle-solving element coupled with treasure hunting in each level. Puzzles vary in types and challenge without being impossible. The game also provides a notebook of hints, but in most cases, they seem more like scribbles and provide little guidance as to how to solve some of the puzzles. Players are able to customize the level of difficulty before playing a level.
The treasures found contribute to the character leveling system, which allows players to upgrade reload and firing speeds, stamina and health, and the flashlight’s power and recharge rate. Although the concept encourages players to explore and find all of the treasures in order to have enough points to level up, the characteristics have little overall noticeable effect, with the exception of the flashlight, making the leveling system almost unnecessary.
The AI is a little off the mark. Although there are instances where you have a companion to assist in battles, there are some glitchy pathfinding problems. Also, enemies seem to remain stationary providing little challenge overall even with the difficulty bumped up.
The best way to sum up Deadfall Adventures is a game with great concepts, but a hollow interior. Though there are some neat features such as puzzle-solving and some nice level design, there are also problems with combat, the negligible leveling system, and the AI. Overall, the game could probably have been better executed as a 3rd-person rather than FPS.
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Title: Deadfall Adventures
Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: PC, X360
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Rating: 2 out of 5 “Don’t Bother”