In the 80’s, one of my favorite movie franchises was the Indiana Jones series. I’m not sure what it was that so captured my attention. It could have been the thrill of exploring ancient temples, watching centuries-old puzzles get solved, or seeing how Dr. Jones would outwit the bad guys who were hot on his heels, trying to steal away the treasure he was seeking for their own fiendish plans. Nordic Games brings us Deadfall Adventures, which promises a first-person shooter with the trappings of an adventure game with a vibe reminiscent of those early Indiana Jones films. So does it deliver action and excitement like Raiders of the Lost Ark or will it crack and disappoint like a Crystal Skull? Read on, adventure seekers, and find out.
The basic storyline is that it’s 1938, and you play as a gambler/adventurer, hired to escort a sexy female US agent to a dig site in Egypt in order to help her recover an ancient artifact. The agent is on a quest to find the lost city of Atlantis, and this is the first stop on the trail to the treasure. As soon as you start exploring your first temple, you are ambushed by Germans who are also on the same hunt as you, and are not happy to learn of competition. And so begins your journey to outwit and out-shoot the Germans in the race to find Atlantis.
The sales pitch promises adventuring, and there is lots to do. As you make your way through the expansive levels, you will want to look everywhere for hidden treasures. These treasures are key to leveling-up your character’s health, stamina, and gun skill. Once you find enough of them, you can unlock skills using glowing shrines found throughout each level at certain points on the map. Finding the treasures can be made easier by finding a treasure map near the start of each major area, and using your compass (which you already have in your inventory). Be warned though, often these treasures are in a booby-trapped environment of some sort, so tread carefully or a pit of spikes or other gruesome end may be in your future.
I really enjoyed looking for these treasures, not just because of the need to level up my character, but the thrill of adventuring and the problem-solving aspect of figuring out how to retrieve the prize without dying horribly. There are clues too that will help you solve the puzzles you come across, in the form of your great-grandfather’s journal. He was also an explorer of these tombs, so his notes will come in very handy, although often can be rather cryptic on a couple of puzzles.
Of course, you’re not always purely exploring and this is where the FPS gameplay comes into play. The game play reminded me of the older Call of Duty games that were set in World War 2. You can only carry so many weapons at a time, but you come with a standard melee attack with your knife, and a six-shooter that never runs out of ammo. One thing I noticed was that it does take quite a few bullets to take down enemies, so you need to make sure they are really dead if they fall down out of sight.
Enemy soldiers are not the only things you will be shooting at. The game turns to the supernatural by throwing the living dead at you in the form of aggressive mummies who are rather ticked off that you decided to trespass in their tombs. It takes a bit more to take the dead down, so believe it or not, you need to use your trusty flashlight on them to make them vulnerable to bullets (much like in Alan Wake). Your flashlight has a beam-intensifying mode that concentrates its light but it only lasts a few seconds before it shuts off and needs to recharge. It doesn’t take long to recharge but if you are being chased down by several undead there could be a problem.
The camera is first-person, and as such I found jumping to be a bit annoying at times. I found myself dying over and over again as I tried to reach safety, because I really wasn’t sure where my feet were. I also experienced a couple of technical glitches too, where I got stuck in the environment and had to reload from my last checkpoint. The nastiest glitch I had was when my only saved game got corrupted and the game decided it needed to delete it right away. I am going to forgive that last point though, because I was still technically playing the beta before the launch, and a large patch before the general release seemed to be the cause. However, it was still frustrating to have this happen after spending hours on a game, and hopefully this won’t be an issue again.
Aside from the single-player game there are some multiplayer options as well. There are a couple modes of play: Survival, which is your basic “survive as long as you can against waves of enemies” mode that can be played either solo or with other players; or Deathmatch, which gives you a whole new set of game options. You have your basic Deathmatch which can be played as a team or solo set to a specific time; a “capture the artifact” mode, which is a take on capture-the-flag; Treasure Hunt mode, where you make the opposite team drop treasures for you to pick up and score points, which can also be played solo or as a team; and Last Man Standing, which is a Deathmatch with no respawns at all.
You also have pre-set classes to choose from for multiplayer, each with different weapons to fit your style, or you can create your own custom class. There is also a selection of skins to choose from. As you play certain multiplayer modes you will gain experience point to unlock more skins and weapons for your character to use in matches, which encourages you to keep coming back.
I spent a lot of my time playing the survival modes, but I’m sad to say it was rather hard trying to find someone else to play team battles with. Even Deathmatches seemed empty; however, it could have just been the times I was on, or the limited number of players available before the official launch (and shortly after). But the variety of modes is certainly worth checking out!
What really impressed me is how immersive, varied, and detailed the levels are, especially the temples you explore. From Egyptian, to Mayan, to Aztec, all are beautifully constructed and feels almost like they were modeled off existing structures. Different climates that you encounter fit perfectly with the adventuring theme of the game, albeit perhaps a bit predictable. You’ll travel from deserts to snowscapes and then to a jungle environment like in other adventure games I have played, but it works and I can’t really fault the game for that. The character models are “okay”, but seemed a bit stiff at times.
In the audio department the soundtrack fits perfectly with the adventuring theme, even if it does sound a bit like the Uncharted games. My one real gripe with the game is the voice acting. Many times I found myself rolling my eyes at the dialogue. The dialog sounded rather forced and felt like the characters were over-acting. The writing is decent, but it just could have been delivered better. As I got deeper into the game it occurred to me that maybe this is what they were going for – a “B-movie” vibe, a spoof of sorts on the whole supernatural adventure tale. Keeping that in mind it almost works.
In the end, Deadfall Adventures is a fun romp in a B-movie sort of way. I like to compare it to a poor-man’s Indiana Jones movie that you might see late at night on cable. Much like the “Temple of Doom”, Deadfall Adventures is enjoyable but in the end has a few too many issues. Do not get me wrong it is a good game, just don’t go in expecting a high production value or something that will blow your socks off.