A Rage Quit Review
FBT is Indiana-Nathan Quatermain-Croft in this mash-up mess-up of classic adventurers.
With a title like Deadfall, I figured this for some sort of zombie/horror game. Imagine my surprise to discover it was an adventure game filled with puzzles, gunplay, traps, nazis, mummys, spunky heroines, egg-head exposition-spouting sidekicks and a whisky-guzzling, adventure-addicted unshaven hero in a hat? Sold. Now imagine my disappointment. Deadfall is a Cannon Films knock-off. Instead of Indy, we got Firewalker.
The great-grandson of Allan Quatermain, our grizzled lead Q is contracted to protect US Agent Goodwin as she investigates what the Nazi’s are investigating. They’re on the trail of some powerful artefact that’s been split in three and hidden across the globe. Can Q find all the pieces before the Nazis do? I dunno, I rage quit it – the Nazis likely did too.
Everything about this game is dated and embarrassing even for 2013. It feels like it should be from 2000 and the only reason I’d not go further back is the graphics and art design are the only thing keeping it in this century. It looks fantastic but absolutely everything else belongs in a museum.
Q is annoyingly smug, and not in the just-about-gets-away-with-it Han Solo way. Fighting a mummy with Nic Cage lines like ‘on any other day that would seem strange’ or Indy quotes just reminds you of who Q isn’t. This is a game about an adventurer, but it seems to be the last thing he wants to do. He constantly moans and never cracks a smile at finding a curiosity or reward - if he doesn’t want to be here why should I? Seems like the only thing he’s interested in is Goodwin, which is fair play, but you don’t expect him to get very far with 80's lines like ‘saved your well-shaped ass in Egypt’ – I could be wrong though, that inexcusably gets the response ‘you had me at well-shaped’. There were no women in the room on the day that scene was worked up, were there. The only time Q looks up from Goodwin’s ass is when it’s being shot at. Or rather, shot roughly at.
Like early-era Shooters with scripted AI, the Nazis always know exactly where you are, even in a snow storm yet tend to just crab from one spot to another and back again regardless of what I'm doing. I've seen better AI in ducks at a fairground shooting gallery. During one firefight I stopped to watch Nazis just flipping out because me and Goodwin happened to be at opposite sides of a room and they couldn’t decide who to fire at. It was like watching a load of Nazis do a barn dance.
But mostly we’re just fighting boxes. There’s boxes absolutely everywhere. More boxes than the ending to Raiders. The Nazis love a box and when they're not crabbing, they stay solidly behind them. That’s all you do, fire at boxes. And random Mummys, who can only be bested by burning their bandages off with a torch much like Alan Wake. Once they’re naked a few shots will do the trick and it’s on to the next part. Wait, haven’t we played this part already?
Deadfall is incredibly repetitive which drains it of any drive or momentum. It is just corridor, open space, fight, puzzle, repeat. That’s the basis for any game but when it’s the same corridor and the same space over and over, you never feel like you’re getting anywhere; there’s just this weird lack of scope to it. In wide shots it looks epic and amazing, but we’re just stuck in this linear corridor. At one stage we spend forever fighting our way to reach a submarine. It’s all the side-kicks bang on about, get to the sub! Q gets in, literally looks in one cupboard, can’t find what he’s after and then leaves. I just spent an hour getting here and expected a close-quarter fight through it but no, one room and back out – you wonder if the sequence was cut short, we had to fix a leaking gas main by finding a crowbar then get a door open like it was leading to something, but that was it. Just the cupboard; on top of which, Q tells Goodwin he's searched the sub. Make some effort man. It was pointless. Back to the same old scenery. The game is split into three general areas, Egypt, the Arctic and jungle ruins but while the art design is beautiful it just gets boring.
Worse are the puzzles. They’re either immediately obvious or brain-numbingly stupid. Either way, they’re always a chore. Puzzles should be challenging and you should get a moment of smugness at solving them, at least a sense of progression, but those are just in the way and often obvious padding. And, making them rage quit worthy is Goodwin constantly giving you the same pointless hint every thirty seconds, even when you’re doing what she’s suggesting. This is pure game vintage here. Yeah, I know the pillars match the statues, I’m doing it woman. Thankfully, Q has a notebook which once belonged to Grandad Q and it can anticipate every puzzle; literally, there is nowhere on the face of the earth that Grandad Q hasn’t made notes about. He’s even made notes about escaping events that only just happened.
The diary is practically self-aware. Much like Bats’ detective mode, pulling out Q’s grail diary causes everything relevant to glow and notes provide a hint. Or an outright solution, but it’s frustratingly inconsistent. The puzzles often have completely illogical solutions. Like using dynamite that’ll blow out an area but leave the wooden platform intact – yet earlier you were blowing up wooden platforms, so you ignore that option for an age. Anyway, back to Goodwin’s arse.
One of the most telling parts, that really ages it, is a cut-scene where Q is being told what the mission is and what’s going on, but he’s ignoring it in favour of staring at Goodwin’s bum. And we get to enjoy it too. No one even catches him or calls him on it, he’s just perving. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. It’s so outdated, it’s got a whiff of the Duke Nukems about it.
There’s random logic issues everywhere too. Insta-kills that make no sense, enemies firing through boxes or impervious to explosions, and infuriating invisible walls that just stop you dead. I spent ages trying to get a gate open only to realise my sidekick had that honour – despite me opening the last three – but because the idiot got himself stuck in a wall, I eventually had to restart the checkpoint. This was after spending an age trying to get Q to jump over the fence using boxes stacked next to the gate which would have given me the height to get over. It’s got that ‘huh?’ logic that keeps you where the game wants you.
Those sorts of game-play goofs and scripting had but disappeared by 2013 but they’re everywhere in Deadfall – this is like a greatest hits of 2001 in gaming; Q can withstand a grenade landing at his feet, but a grenade set up on a tripwire kills him even though he was 20 feet from it. You can accidentally trigger scripted moments from a mile away and still get offed by it and just like in the good old days, once you fix, break or trigger something, a new horde arrives; “they’ve got reinforcements!” well how, and from where?! The Nazis are always in the pits and tombs we had to puzzle our way through. How’d they get down here, never mind with all those bloody boxes.
The animations are basic, way below par for 2013 and the voice acting is equally outdated. The Nazis are out of ‘ello ‘ello, Q sounds like someone just needs to clear their throat and Goodwin is less than a 2D Sprite character-wise, a typically hot but frigid shrew until Q manhandles her into submission. Q literally just chats up her ass and the rest follows.
Barely hanging on, I eventually lose it at … wait for it … Q and co jumping aboard minecarts and careening over lava. It’s not even trying any more. Rage Quit.
Aside from Indy, the Quartermain books and every game you played in 2000, Deadfall is also channelling Uncharted and of course Tomb Raider, but without any of their wit or ability to freshen up a well-worn race-against-time adventure story. It feels undeveloped, lazy; it’s like someone copied Lara’s homework. At first, with an early line ripped from the Raiders’ script and a scene that reminds you of the Well of Souls dig site, I thought ‘oh Q is a parody’ but no, this isn't even a homage it's a rip-off that thinks all it has to do is copy to be cool - yet, Q at times makes modern pop-culture refs like quoting Con Air or The Terminator. Either be a parody that we’re in on or be purely straight-faced. The Indy movies worked because they were played absolutely for real. Except maybe that refrigerator thing. But the point is, if Deadfall doesn’t want to take itself seriously, then we’re not going to either. Let us in on the joke, or don’t make it.
I really wanted to like Deadfall, and I'm sure it was well intentioned. But then, so was Firewalker. I want an old-fashioned adventure game that’s not modern blubbering Lara or only available on the PS, and you’d forgive a lot of Deadfall’s sins if it was 2003, but in 2013 it was unforgivable. Now it’s unplayable. I’d rather watch Indy and the Crystal Skull again.
2013 | Developer; The Farm 51 | Publisher; Nordic Games
platforms; Win, PS3, X360