What an awesome premise for a game. Take the silhouetted atmosphere of Limbo and add zombies and guns and survival aspects to it -- genius! With the rise of indie games it's nice to see someone putting the time and effort into many aspects of a game, especially one as hyped up as Deadlight was before launch.
Unfortunately, the hype, like many circumstances, wasn't warranted. The dialogue here is awful. It is narrated by a gruff former cop who is trying to find his family, and most of the exposition is like something out of a high-school philosophy student's journal. The story isn't terrible, but the elements of it border on the ridiculous. What was marketed as a side-scrolling survival/zombie game simply becomes a series of pitfalls and shoddy controls. The jumping missions in this game are painful, and the scenery disguises a lot of impending death, but not in the way that makes the game challenging. Instead, it becomes irritating.
Games like Dark Souls play with death from the unexpected, but it does so in a way that makes the game dangerous and makes dying a real threat. In Deathlight, it is mostly from you not being able to tell which environmental aspects are interactive or not. The grab controls are also frustrating, and the game seems to have a very specific set of action points that you have to control in real time. To try and explain further, this game might have been less irritating had their been action prompts and the character was running on rails.
The cut-scenes steadily grow more painful to sit through as the game progresses. Which is unfortunate, because Deadlight starts off well. Sadly, once you hit the sewers it's a downhill experience. Your character might eventually climb out of the depths, but the game doesn't. By the time you reach the end you'll realize that on-the-spot thinking and survival is non-existent and that you are required to perform a specific set of actions in a specific order to progress. This really takes you out of the atmosphere of the game and more into the process of just finishing it.
I was really looking forward to this game, and my disappointment came after many efforts to try and find the good here. The art direction and scenery were very well crafted, but everything else just became a major let-down. I wouldn't even suggest this game to major fans of the zombie genre since I happen to be one myself.