If you’d asked me, when I first started playing video games, for a list of which characters I most wanted to play as in a game, I would almost certainly have included Indiana Jones. The character represented an often eclectic mix of action, humour and intelligence that really appealed to me while I was growing up. While there have been plenty of point and click adventures featuring the fedora-wearing Archaeologist, there’s never been a first person shooter. And there still isn’t. Deadfall Adventures, a brand new IP from Polish developer The Farm 51 (previously known for the Painkiller HD Remake, Hell & Damnation), makes a decent effort to mix action with puzzle elements, as well as a vague attempt at humour. While it doesn’t hit the mark on all of the elements, it has the potential to be enjoyable for fans of Indiana Jones and (to a lesser extent) the Uncharted series.
The gameplay takes a lot of cues from other games in the genre, while staying as far away from Painkiller as possible. Deadfall Adventures is a game where you’re going to run out of bullets, you’re going to have to find new ways around things and, when you’re pitted against a horde of Nazi enemies, charging Mummys and more, you’re going to have to keep your wits about you if you intend to survive. That doesn’t mean it’s overly difficult – anyone who’s played a first person shooter before should be able to handle the amount of enemies – it’s that, in true Indiana Jones fashion, if you go charging headfirst into an ancient Mayan temple (for example), you’re going to quickly find yourself impaled on the nearest booby trap. The automatic save points aren’t as frequent as you’d probably hope either, meaning you’ll be retreading old ground a lot if you’re not careful.
One of the gameplay mechanics that people will recognise above all others – primarily because it’s taken straight from one of the best story-driven games of the last generation – is the ability to burn through some of the undead creatures’ protective field using the Atlantis gold-infused torch that James Quatermain – the protagonist of the story and great-grandson of legendary explorer Allan Quatermain – is equipped with. Using this torch is the only way to kill some creatures, such as Mummies, by holding down the torch button (left bumper on the Xbox 360 version) to focus the beam of light on the encroaching enemy until their shield is burnt off. Then you let loose with whatever weapon you have handy (I recommend a quick blast of any one of the many shotguns).
Aside from the gunplay, the other main mechanic in Deadfall Adventures is the puzzle element. The game progresses through various different ancient temples, and almost every section that you have to get through is barricaded by a door or locking system. Getting past these requires a bit of thought processing as well as your great grandfather’s notebook, which you can take a look at whenever you feel like you’re getting stuck and it’ll usually have some handy tips scrawled across its pages – if you can read the faded, cursive text that is. The puzzle elements are well implemented, as well as being quite challenging at times too. There are puzzles that’ll have you walking across traps in the floor (similar to the ‘Name of God’ riddle from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) as well as various puzzles involving rotating locks and mirrors. I never found myself bored with the puzzles, which is more than can be said about walking into yet another room filled with Nazis (for some reason).
While the gunplay and puzzles lean more towards the ‘Good’ end of the video game spectrum, the voice acting and story leave it firmly pointed in the opposite direction. The story is vague at best, giving no indication as to what you’re really doing other than the fact that you’ve been told to do it. You’re given no indication as to why the Nazis want what you’re looking for, and are just left to assume that they want it because they’re Nazis and it’s something that you want. Does there need to be any other reason? Well, yes, usually there does. On top of that, the voice acting for the most part is simply dire. When it’s not ripping off lines from Indiana Jones movies, the two main characters – James and Jennifer – have some of the worst delivery I’ve heard in a long while. It doesn’t take too much away from the game – it’s all about the shooting and puzzle-solving at the end of the day – but a little bit of work in these two areas would have added some much-needed polish to the entire experience.
Deadfall Adventures is a game that will appeal to certain people, and while it’s not going to be the top of people’s list of games, it is at least worth a look. There’s a little bit more polishing time left before its release on November 15th, and unfortunately some of the bigger problems – such as the voice-acting – can’t be fixed, but it’s still an interesting game that will go down quite well in certain circles.