Deadbolt is a top indie game that’s now made it to the Playstation Vita, almost two years after its Steam release.
Sure, the Vita is getting fewer and fewer games and they’re not all good either, but in recent months we’ve seen a lot of great games from other platforms come towards the Vita – including more and more indie gems. Deadbolt is one such game, and it’s the type of game I simply adore playing on a small handheld screen.
In Deadbolt, you play as the grim reaper and set out to finish off a recent uprising of undead characters, including vampires, zombies, demons and skeletons. Easier said than done, because despite what you might expect you’re actually quite vulnerable to their attacks – take one bullet and you’ll have to try again. Your enemies also have their own unique behavior, so you’ll have to adapt and exploit their weak points as well.
Luckily, grim also has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve and is armed with more than just his trusty scythe. In fact, you can arm him to the teeth with grenades, rifles, pistols and over two dozen other weapons. Go in Rambo-style though, and you’ll fail quickly and often. You’ll want to use your special ability instead, where you vanish into thin air and travel through ducts and pipelines. This allows you to pop up behind someone, or even instantly kill them.
Ammo is not plentiful, so stealth is an important part of the game. If you feel like having the grim reaper star in an 80s style action movie, then you’d better save it for later in a level after you’ve thinned out the herd a little bit. Failure to do so will result in you getting swarmed by hordes of the undead, who will all notice the ruckus you’re creating. It’s way smarter to plan and ahead and take out enemies who have wandered off from the rest for a bit instead. You can stimulate this behavior as well, for instance by flicking a light switch or making a sound to attract them.
You get better at these tactics as the game goes on, but you can never go on auto-pilot – Deadbolt is tough as nails to play, and very unforgiving. In this sense, the only downside to the Vita version is that it can be a bit tough to do some precision aiming when in a tight spot, on account of the small thumbsticks and ditto screen. Hardly ever a big problem, but some enemies require skill shots you might just miss – and you’ll blame the controls for them.
Most levels in this 2D stealth-action adventure play out in a similar fashion, though the level design keeps throwing new challenges at you and things never get repetitive. The game gets vastly more interesting once you hit a boss level though – these often feature gameplay elements that are unique to one particular level and require you to re-think your finely tuned strategies and come up with creative solutions. Deadbolt has over 25 levels in total, and while that doesn’t sound like a ton it’s worth pointing out that after the first three to five they are all brutal and will take you plenty of time and retries to complete.
Deadbolt’s art style is why I like this game on the Vita so much – it’s gory and detailed in places, but minimalistic enough to run silky smooth on the Vita. Where I expect more audiovisual grandeur on my PS4, playing Deadbolt on the Vita allows me to focus completely on the stellar gameplay and level design. And if I ever want more precise controls, then it’s comforting to know that it’s a cross-buy enabled title as well.