James Quartermain is the descendant of Allan Quartermain. Old Allan, now he was a chap from a 19th Century novel called King Solomon's Mines. But that's not to say the Quartermain name hasn't been up to some more recent adventures! No, the 1885 book was made into a movie in 1950, starring a cast who longest-lived member died seven years ago. You might ask why Deadfall Adventures invokes the name Quartermain at all, with such a low modern adventuring profile. "The copyright's probably expired," we'd whisper back.
So yes, this is a low budget game, but it's not entirely without its charms. The outdoors locations are pretty enough, eliciting an arched eyebrow of appreciation. The sky gives way to the samey interiors of a tomb, but the lighting's atmospheric, and the music swaps between the adventurous swell of a John Williams score, and some vague Egyptological noodling. It's never anything approaching great, but you'll sometimes get a unexpected sensation of "good".
Starting the game, you get two difficulty sliders - combat and puzzles. The first is for the combat. Medium difficulty is too easy, thanks to extremely generous aim-correction, but we wouldn't recommend putting the combat onto hard. Even if you're doing it well, the choppy frame rate and stammering rotation mean that the gunplay is never going to be satisfying.
What the combat lacks in execution, it does make up for by stealing Alan Wake's torch schtick. Nazis (of course, there are Nazis) can be killed with bullets, but the mummies (of course, there are mummies) need to have their shroud of darkness sizzled off with a torch. In one of the better snippets of dialogue, Jennifer asks how you made the torch do that. "There's a button that does it," replies James, answering the question that plagued us all the way through Alan Wake. One of the less great snippets of dialogue? "Let's get dangerous!"
The puzzles are just as important to Deadfall Adventures, and this is where the game could really have clawed something back. The idea of exploring a properly empuzzled crypt is genuinely appealing. Unfortunately, Deadall relies way too heavily on over-familiar staples. Shafts of light must be reflected with mirrors. Worse, a puzzle will usually be solved because there's nothing else to do. One key and one lock does not a brain-teaser make.
The idea of Deadfall, as a genuine raid on a legitimate tomb harks back to a fondly remembered era of Lara Croft. Losing Croft's platforming for a heavier puzzle element could have been great. Unfortunately, Deadfall Adventures fails to satisfy on either of the two goals it sets itself. The gunplay is juddering and weak, and the puzzles lack depth and satisfaction. Even a cabal of supernatural Nazis can't save this one.
With imprecise and over-forgiving guns, and puzzles involve finding the area of the room that triggers the "Press A to pick up Puzzle Piece" prompt, Deadfall fails to deliver on either of its promises. A real shame.
- The theory's great
- Steals some good stuff
- It looks alright
- Aye, but it doesn't play alright
- The practice really isn't great
- Lets its inspirations down. For shame.