Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review - Deadfall Adventures

  • 0:48 - Gameplay
  • 1:55 - Pros
  • 4:59 - Cons
  • 13:01 - Final Thoughts

In this episode, I have played ten hours of a brand new first-person action-adventure/puzzle game called Deadfall Adventures. This game is a combination of an Indiana Jones movie with a Laura Croft video game.

In this series, you never have to wait for my opinion: in this case, Deadfall Adventures is incredibly sloppy in it's execution, but despite that I found it to be challenging and lots of fun.

But is it right for you? Well let's find out.


To begin, Deadfall Adventures follows around James Lee Quatermain -- the great-grandson of H. Rider Haggard's noted African explorer Allan Quartermain -- who is a rugged adventurer in his own right. He is hired by the beautiful archaeologist Jennifer Goodwin as she tries to beat Germany's up-and-coming Nazi party to the shattered pieces of an ancient artifact known as the Heart of Atlantis, which could potentially give the bad guys untold power.

I checked the math, by the way, and it is possible for James Quartermain to be the old man's great-grandson. Along the way, they are constantly running into trouble as they fumble and shoehorn their way toward their goal.

The game features an upgrade system based on the number of collectables you find and boasts dozens of puzzles that require you to use your wits in order to progress in the game.

It was developed by a company called The Farm 51 -- the same Poland-based company responsible for Painkiller Hell & Damnation and the 2006 title Time Ace. They also have connections to Two Worlds II (the better of the Two Worlds franchise) and the original Witcher game.


  • Without question, my favorite part of the game is the environment. This game is beautiful and wondering around looking for treasure is a blast. There are secret passageways, pitfalls, and other interesting things that make the environment part of the game. The level designers for this game should be given awards and pots filled with roses for saving this game from mediocrity.
  • Collectables are objects that you pick up in almost every game in this genre. But, this game makes picking up collectables dangerous and potentially lethal in very creative ways -- which fits the Quartermain ethos perfectly.
  • Since we're on the subject, Farm 51 stepped into giant shoes when they chose to relate their protagonist to Allan Quartermain -- a legendary novel character who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones. But the writers succeeded in creating a story that marries their unique and quirky plot to Haggard's original theme and style.
  • The upgrade system is based on finding objects in the game and then "selling" them for upgrades to your character. But the game is still beatable even if you never upgrade. This makes the game expansive for people who like to search the nooks and crannies and still serves people who just want to speed run the game as fast as possible.
  • And as for collectables, most of them are hidden behind puzzles. So it's not good enough for you to root around looking for them, you then have to earn them by using your brain.
  • You have a flashlight that can kill zombies. That's a little weird. But, you can also use that flashlight to solve puzzles. That's a little awesome.
  • The special effects in the game are well done and very subtle. Things like moonbeams through holes in walls, musty fog in the tombs, and the little puff of smoke coming off the end of your gun sell the realism of the game. There's even little frost clouds that come from the mouths of your companions as they speak in cold environments.
  • Certain paths are rigged with booby traps and when you hit them you kick yourself for being an idiot but have a good laugh. They are all well camouflaged, so be careful where you step in this game.
  • You have to shoot very carefully because you'll run out of bullets for your favorite gun (and you will have a favorite gun). You do have dual revolvers with unlimited bullets, but you really don't want to be going up against an army two cylinders at a time. Also, reload times are impressively long, making reloading your weapons a strategic part of the game.
  • The game is long. You're going to get 24+ hours if you look around for all the side stuff or 12-18 hours if you speed run it.
  • There's a small amount of parkour in the game; I love parkour.


  • My number one complaint is that no matter where you go and behind every super-hard locked puzzle door there is a dead Nazi -- proving that the Nazis found another way to get around the puzzles so why shouldn't you. The fundamental part of the Allan Quartermain novels is that the bad guys were always one step behind, not filling the ancient temples with hundreds of empty wooden crates. You should have to puzzle your way into an area and then have to fight your way back out -- every time.
  • The jump button controls everything, however if you rekeybind it, then the jump button isn't the spacebar. But the game doesn't adapt to this, leaving you in situations where you end up dead because the instructions on the screen are incorrect. The jump button is also the one you use to skip the cutscenes, but the game doesn't tell you that either.
  • There are numerous unpolished features in the game, but chief among them are the character animations for the girl and the doctor -- which are a train wreck. She disappears at random and reappears by your side or sometimes ahead of you. She and the Doctor sometimes switch places for no reason. And the audio cues still launch even though you can't see her, so you're just listening to the wind tell you what a pig-headed moron you are. Also, even though you just left her taking cover, sometimes she teleports right behind you just after a battle with zombies causing you to accidentally shoot her in the face. Don't worry, though -- all friendlies are bulletproof.
  • This game uses a checkpoint system. That's just universally bad and some of the checkpoints are very distantly spaced, which can be a huge problem if you die. These checkpoints almost always occur before a cutscene, so you have to load and then skip the cutscene over and over again each time you die. This is a classic rookie mistake from a company on it's third game.
  • Sometimes when you reload while zoomed into your weapon, game glitches locking you in that view and you then have to switch weapons to get back to a normal view.
  • Sometimes when you step on a rug, the audio that plays is the sound of a metal door being closed. Something else they could have found in a beta test.
  • I find it fascinating that Quartermain can land an airplane on an unploughed runway without damage. He can also spend the night in a blizzard without freezing to death. What he can't do is sneak around the clearly-defined edges of a circular death-spear trap without getting shot in the face.
  • The cutscenes are rough. They look like something out of 2006. The jaws of the characters just bob up and down and the audio occasionally keeps going after the sprites stop moving their mouths. Also, the voice acting for the primary characters is great and believable, but the supporting cast and the extras are clearly underpaid interns.
  • As you're exploring the area, you will often get trapped in weird seams in the ground, between rocks, or against a wall. Avoid panicking. Simply look down at the ground and start smashing all the keys on your keyboard until you wriggle yourself free.
  • The invisible walls in this game are so infuriating it makes me want to become more like HBO's Dexter. They're in the dumbest spots and were clearly the final result of a lazy programmer.
  • You know those phrases NPCs kick out when you're in the middle of a firefight just because some nitwit at the dev thought that speaking was something that naturally happens during a gunfight? If I hear, "Still think I'm a rookie, Quartermain?" one more time, I'm going to get a passport and fly to Poland to kick some ass.
  • Jennifer's eyes are red and they glow in the dark. I'm just sayin', that's weird.
  • This isn't Farm 51's fault, but the Nazi's have an "X" on their arm instead of the Buddhist swastika they wore in real life. This is due to a German law outlawing the display of a swastika. I get that they're bound by law, but still it's goofy as hell.
  • The game is filled with instances of doors closing without reason and cutscenes where James performs super-human feats. There are also gaping holes in the plot, like where I grabbed a hook and zoomed down an exploding mineshaft and ended up on the other end with both of my companions -- who were behind me when I grabbed the hook. Were they also on the hook? Were they just fast runners? Where did the Nazis in the empty tunnel behind me come from? There were no doors. These are the kinds of questions you will be facing if you take this game too seriously.
  • Quartermain has a mystical notepad that will give you the solution to each puzzle -- albeit not clearly. This is a magical pad that somehow knows everything even when he's in a secret Russian mine. Conveniently, he also has Jack Sparrow's magical compass. Deus ex machina (MAKINA) anyone?
  • There's a general inconsistency with this game. You can walk through some fences but not others. You can disarm some booby traps but not others. It's rare, but when it happens it usually means you have to waste three minutes of your life circumventing the mundane.
  • Your inventory consists of one pair of handguns and one rifle. You can't carry two rifles even though they all have straps and this is a problem because one shotgun, one rifle, and one sniper rifle would REALLY come in handy in certain spots.
  • Throughout the game, you are asked to grab hold of a rope and slide down it to get to lower levels. This is physically impossible as the friction from the rope would rip your fingers from their sockets. Also, if the only way to get on top of a cliff where the gate is was via rope, how did the Nazis get there? And why is there a gate? Did the entire platoon slide down the rope and then build the truck that drove through the gate?
  • In one cutscene, the bad guy leaves and the rope to get up is clearly still there. Your character could just have climbed up the rope and saved himself the trouble of being captured by the Russians.
  • This is one of those games where you can see that the next step is only 18 inches off the ground but you can't just step up -- you have to jump. Also, if the step is 20 inches off the ground, then it's unsurmountable and you'll have to find another way around. They need a climbing mechanic in this game to make it truly great.
  • Bad guys will occasionally screw up and -- while taking cover -- end up shooting into the box they are hiding behind instead of around or over it. Other than that, though, the AI programming seems solid.
  • Quartermain uses the word "sanguinity" to describe Jennifer during his dialog -- as if that's a perfectly normal word to bandy about in normal everyday conversation.

Final Thoughts

It's nice to get a complete package when you buy a game. And anyone with even an ounce of professionalism would test their game thoroughly before sending it out. Farm 51 as a group failed at this, but inside of that company somewhere are quality people who made sure that their part in the game rocked.

What it lacks in polish this game makes up for with moxy and when you combine that with beautiful environments and a goofy, yet loveable set of characters, this game is over thirty hours of entertainment and I think it's a blast.

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