Deadfall Adventures Review – PC/Steam

I went into my review of Deadfall Adventures thinking I was about to play something along the lines of an FPS version of Uncharted, and came away realizing this was nothing more than one of those cardboard sleeve budget games you see at Wal-Mart in the wire rack next to the 1,500 versions of Solitaire, only this one is $40 and being sold on Steam.  That’s not to say there isn’t some fun to be had with this Indiana Jones knockoff, but it’s more of a $10-15 level of fun.

I hate to be harsh because FPS is my favorite genre and adventurous treasure hunting is my favorite sub-genre, but the designers tried to make this wacky hybrid of adventure and FPS that just never seems to work, and even when it does sort of work, it just seems very stale and “been there done that”.    Deadfall Adventures plays the vintage card by having your adventure take place in 1938.  You play James Lee Quatermain; great grandson of the famous Allan Quatermain who unwillingly teams up with Jennifer Goodwin to search an Egyptian archeological dig site for the Heart of Atlantis.

If this is starting to sound a bit like Indiana Jones just wait until your efforts are thwarted by…you guessed it…Nazis; but since this game is multilingual and available in Germany where the swastika is “illegal” our blonde haired Hitler groupies simply have an X on their armband.  After escaping Egypt your quest will take you on a whirlwind adventure around the globe to the icy arctic and humid jungles, trying to stay ahead of the Nazis and Russians as you search for the ancient and powerful relic.

Cliché as this all sounds, it would appear to be a firm foundation for a great backdrop to an adventure game or an FPS, or even both, but the shooting isn’t any fun and the adventuring; aka puzzle-solving and treasure-seeking, isn’t remotely challenging.    There is a nice selection of guns, authentically modeled after the period, but you feel very stiff and robotic using them and the enemy AI is ridiculous.   I did enjoy the combat where you had  to work your guns in tandem with your flashlight to weaken the enemy before bullets were effective, but even that has been done before in Alan Wake.

There are hidden treasures that actually play into your character and ability upgrades, and while some are treated like real treasure and hidden in places of honor, others are casually stuck inside Urn #87, which means you’ll spend way too much time smashing everything that can be broken in this game.   Your magic compass points to nearby treasures which helps narrow down the search.  Puzzles are a bit cooler in design, but their solution is always handed to you in the form of James’ notebook that will always be open to the proper page to show you the way past any obstacle.   It seems the designers got tired of trying to design puzzles as they all but vanish for the second half of the game, leaving you with one long and boring FPS.

The graphics look really nice once you turn up all the settings.  The opening level in Egypt gave me serious Serious Sam flashbacks.  The environments, textures, and lighting are pretty cool as are the weapon models, but the supporting characters are a bit bland in their design.   Obviously James is the macho cool dude and Jennifer is the busty sidekick – everyone else is just filler.  Even the villains seem generic.   The script is poorly written, full of clichés and sad one-liners for James to try and deliver with a straight face.   Cutscene conversations and encounters with Nazis are cringe-worthy at best.   Sound effects are good and there are some nice adventure themes happening with the soundtrack that you can actually get separately if you purchase the $50 Digital Deluxe Edition of the game, which also includes a Making of movie, Artbook, and some DLC – a new gun and three multiplayer skins.

Whoa…what’s that you say…multiplayer?  Yes, for those who just can’t get enough of this generic shooter you can head online for some competitive deathmatch or even a co-op survival mode.   Keeping in mind Deadfall Adventures has just released might explain the lack of “anyone” playing this game online, but I’m guessing the bigger reason is that people looking to play online shooters are playing Battlefield and Call of Duty.   Multiplayer is obviously an afterthought that deserves as much attention as the core adventure you’ll struggle to finish.

I hate to be so harsh on Deadfall Adventures, but what little fun I do admit to having was quickly sapped away by all of the game’s inadequacies.   Sure, there might be something worth exploring if this game ever drops to $10-15 on a Steam sale, but as far as a $40 PC game, you can do much better and probably for less money with any of the exceptional indie shooters out there.

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