What do you get when you combine treasure hunting, pressure plate-triggered traps, mine cart chases, Nazi soldiers and a storyline that spans the globe? That’s right… Deadfall Adventures. An obvious homage to the Indiana Jones franchise, the new game by developer The Farm 51 effectively blends Indiana Jones with the Quatermain franchise. We previewed the game earlier and just wrapped up playing the full game.
Playing as legendary explorer Allan Quatermain’s great-grandson James Lee, the game quickly sets up your reputation as an explorer/gun for hire who is recruited to help navigate the traps and secrets of an ancient desert temple complex. This background immediately sets the tone for the game’s gameplay style, which consists of first person shooting, trap navigation and puzzle solving along the way. While the gameplay is fairly constant for the duration of the game, it’s the location that keeps changing. Starting out in Egypt, you quickly find yourself surrounded by snow and ice before venturing into a Mayan temple complex. With its diversity and excellent fit with the adventuring genre, the settings the game uses are one of its strong points, especially considering the fact that the environments are all rendered with a lot of detail and a clear passion for the works that inspired this game.
Looking at the game from a visual perspective, the game uses the Unreal engine, which is instantly recognizable from the ‘glow’ you see on characters during the first cutscenes. It’s an engine that’s showing its age when compared with the likes of Battlefield 4 in terms of image quality and animation, but the excellent scenery work makes up for a lot of its shortcomings without ever blowing you away. There are some other technical issues stemming from the game engine, such as a character running in place for a second or dynamite falling through a solid floor.
The issues above are minor and easily ignored, since they don’t hurt the core gameplay – which for the most part is fresh and fun. The one aspect that hurts it are the puzzles, which range from the obvious to the completely (or at least seemingly) random. There are sliding puzzles (that’s right – the kind you did as a kid), plenty of pressure plate activation and even the old ‘put the skull in the right place’ puzzle. There are also puzzles where you move a constellation shape into the right position, without knowing what that position is supposed to be – which can turn into a frustrating and random ordeal. To add insult to injury, your companion might give you hints to the simplest of puzzles (taking away any sense of accomplishment) while leaving you completely in the dark for the puzzles where you could really use the help. The same can be said for your grandfather’s notebook which offers context-sensitive hints but can also leave you completely stuck when you need a hand. Needless to say, the game would have benefitted from a greater amount of balance between its puzzles.
When you get past those moments of frustration, Deadfall Adventures moves the adventure along at a good pace with some predictable plot twists along the way. This is especially true if you’re at home in the movie genre that inspired The Farm 51, sometimes so blatantly ripping off famous scenes that you can’t help but wonder what George Lucas would think about all this. One big difference between the game and its silver screen big brother is the amount of polish that went into the package though. Indiana Jones is considered a classic, whereas James Lee Quatermain’s adventure hits a few rough spots in almost every area it touches despite offering you a fun ride.
As such, Deadfall Adventures gets a lot of aspects right but never manages to balance its components in such a way to create a package that’s more than the sum of its parts. The storyline never feels as well developed as the game’s setting, and some of the puzzles are much less refined than others. But for all its faults, Deadfall Adventures does manage to entertain. It profits a lot from being the first in its genre, mixing first person shooters with puzzles and adventuring. It’s nowhere near perfect, but the equivalent of a fun popcorn movie. As such, it’s closer to The Mummy than it is to Indiana Jones – fun, but never more than that.
CPU: Intel 3770K
Video: Asus GTX 660 Ti
Installed on: Kingston HyperX SSD drive
RAM: 8 GB DDR 3, Kingston HyperX Beast series