System(s): PC, Xbox 360
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Nordic Games (The Farm 51)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood and Violence
Globe-trotting archeologist that can never seem to live up to his father’s expectations and always landing in sticky situations every time he goes on an adventure but manages to barely escape with his life. Sound familiar? Deadfall Adventures pulls from the same inspiration that the beloved Indiana Jones got his, Sir H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines.
You are James Quatermain, great-grandson of the famed Allan Quatermain, which is the main protagonist in King Solomon’s Mines. When a former colleague ask for your help in recovering a dangerous artifact from the Nazi’s, expect nothing but troubling times to befall our adventurers. This is all too similar to the popular Indiana Jones series and with that, brings the high expectation to be as fulfilling and enjoyable. What you get is more of a B-Movie vibe that, if your expectations were not that high to begin with, is enjoyable like a good SyFy network movie can be.
Between the borderline bad dialogue combined with some odd catchphrases that are out of place in the 1930’s. My guess is these were included to break the fourth wall for a cheap laugh. It illicit confusion more than anything else from me. Voice acting was average but the odd sound mixing ruined most of it. At times, the voices would be muted while the music in the background would seem to be at max volume. Thankfully, I had the subtitles on so I didn’t miss something that could have been important to solving the puzzles.
The implementation of the puzzles in Deadfall Adventures goes from pretty simple to mind-numbingly difficult then back down to simple again all too many times. Using an old journal from your father, clues to solve these conundrums are laid out with a picture of what needs to be done. Some are laid out with exactly what you need to do. Showing James Quartermain the exact order the symbols on the wall need to be in, for example. Then there are clues that are so obscure, your best chance of coming up with a solution is pure brute forcing the puzzle, which I had to do more times than anyone should have. The most annoying problem with some of the clues in the journal was the small nondescript images on the pages. It was neigh impossible for me to make out what the symbols were with no way to see them in a larger capacity.
You can’t have puzzles without deathly traps. Most of the traps are pretty easy to spot as well as bypass with a single glance at the contraptions. There were some that caught me being careless as I ran towards the shiny artifacts that are used for gaining new skills. One simple rule to follow in Deadfall Adventures, if it looks too easy, it is. The skill tree that the artifacts you find hidden in every level is a nice addition to enhance the survivability of Mr. Quartermain. Besides more health, I didn’t find the upgrades that useful. If you want to skip out on collecting the more difficult artifacts to upgrade, you won’t be missing out on much.
Combat is where I had the most fun in Deadfall Adventures. Alan Wake had a unique combat mechanic that more people need to crib from. When fighting supernatural beings, Quatermain uses his flashlight to weaken his foes before putting a bullet or two in them. It’s a well known fact that a flashlight with a super concentrated beam is the universal weakness for all things supernatural, right?
Since the developers of Painkiller: Hell & Damnation worked on this, the speed at which you can circle strafe your enemies combined with using a flashlight to weaken enemies is a lot of fun. I found myself doing a lot of backpedaling screaming, “No!” in rapid succession while reloading my shotgun. Engaging the Nazi soldiers were less enjoyable. Most would stand still while I went unnoticed going from headshot to headshot with a sniper rifle. When I ran out of ammo, it was all too easy to wait for their heads to pop up over cover and take them out like I was at a firing range. The flashlight comes in handy during close quarters combat, though. Shining a bright light in a Nazi soldier’s eyes makes him stagger back while trying to cover the light makes an easy target for a shotgun blast to the chest.
If you want to take the combat to other venues, there is multiplayer and survival mode to dive into. With all the work that probably went into each of these modes, it’s a shame that no one is playing either of them. I tried for days to get a match going and not a single soul was around. I would have liked to try out some circle strafing while duel-wielding shotgun pistols.
The world of Deadfall Adventures can look gorgeous at times. Skylines in the Antarctic to the lush jungles of Guatemala look fantastic during cutscenes and some gameplay. Even with the Unreal Engine, the pop-in textures are not too bad. The animations of the characters are a little twitchy at times. Almost like someone had a little too much caffeine before the trip.
Entertaining, even though it tries to hard to be like its inspirations.
Deadfall Adventures may try to ape some of the things that made Indiana Jones successful in its story and theme. Sure, it also tried to have some humorous references to movies that don’t quite fit the era that the game is set in. It may even have the look of a game needing a little more time to bake. What Deadfall Adventures does though, is provide an enjoyable enough romp through the eyes of James Quatermain.