Deadfall Adventures is what happens when you take Indiana Jones and decide to make it worse in every way. It has all the hallmarks of a great game with first-person gunplay, solving ancient puzzles and a wise-cracking protagonist. But sadly The Farm 51 just didn’t have the resources to make Deadfall anything other than mediocre at best. It’s an Uncharted style romp done on the budget of a ham sandwich.
Of course if any game should be let off for ripping off Indiana Jones then I guess it’s this one, as the book series that Deadfall Adventures is based on was the inspiration for Indiana Jones in the first place. Though whilst the books centred on Allan Quatermain, Deadfall instead follows the adventures of his grandson and professional douche James Lee Quatermain. James is the most stereotypical ‘bad boy’ on planet Earth; he drinks, smokes, cracks wise, solves ancient puzzles with dynamite and doesn’t care what you think. I find myself being reminded of The Lonely Island’s Threw it on the Ground every time he opens his big mouth. I’m not a part of this system, man!
So Quatermain is the stereotypical bad boy who doesn’t play by the rules but at least he has some personality. The girl is your typical uptight smarty pants who falls for his roguish charms, the Germans are evil, the backstabbing traitor is obvious, and the Russians are also evil. Speaking of ‘the girl’, she’s a generic female love interest and I honestly have no idea what her name is; she is literally only there to look good in tight pants and occasionally get kidnapped so you can go rescue her. Oh and she also gives Quatermain someone to bounce his terrible jokes off…so there’s that.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the script they’re all reading from wasn’t so painfully bad. Quatermain’s one liners devolve into dad joke territory very early on, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Tight Pants at one point utters the line “if only I had a nickel for every bad joke”. You and me both sister. The plot is predictable and pretty much just a mash up of the Indiana Jones movies, bouncing from location to location as Quatermain and Tight Pants race the Nazi’s and the Russians to some ancient McGuffin.
The gameplay is your average WW2 shooter most of the time. You shoot at Nazi’s with period weapons and they die and it’s fine because they’re Nazis. It’s competent enough although the aiming can feel somewhat sluggish at times. However it’s not all Medal of Honor: Ancient Tomb Assault as there are also supernatural enemies that you must face off against in the form of Mummies and…well actually that’s it. The Mummies’ party piece is that they can only be killed after you’ve shone your magic torch at them to set them on fire. They’re a nice addition to the combat and they are only thrown in on the odd occasion which really helps the game’s pacing.
Every now and then, when you’re not shooting up Nazi’s or shining a light on some dudes covered in toilet roll, you’ll come across a puzzle which you’ll have to solve. These puzzles can vary but they mostly consist of rearranging symbols on something to match the pattern on something else. A few stand out puzzles involve the manipulation of light using mirrors and whilst they’ll never challenge you for too long, they do break up the action nicely. Each puzzle has some clues which can be accessed by checking old man Quatermain’s diary. It’s a nice touch and adds some character, but the realistic lighting on the book can be a double edged sword. It’s cool that it needs an actual light source to be readable, but also a massive pain when you’re trying to solve a puzzle and you need to keep wandering back into a light source to check the book.
Sometimes the puzzles are required for the story, but often they simply hide one of the many collectibles hidden throughout each level. You can use these treasures to upgrade yourself on what has to be one of the most pointless, shoe-horned skill trees in video gaming history. Who cares about a slight reload speed bonus in a generic, linear WW2 shooter? How will it be the game changer that’s going to make me seek out the treasures? It won’t is the answer, but thankfully the treasures are somewhat satisfying to collect in their own right.
Graphically deadfall Adventures is…well it’s fine but it’s so inconsistent. The jungle levels can look nothing short of stunning, but the Arctic level looks like a PlayStation 2 game. The character models look good enough, though as I said before special attention was given to a certain character’s tight pants. Sadly the animations are very robotic and it ruins any semblance of immersion that the graphics could give the game.
Still it’s not all bad over here in Indiana Jones wannabe territory. The environments are varied and unique, taking you from an Egyptian Tomb to a Mayan City buried deep within the jungle. The level design is fairly linear in its progression but there is ample room for exploration as you hunt down all the hidden treasures within the map. Deadfall Adventures just fails to rise above ‘not bad’ at any point. On one occasion I picked up a treasure and heard an ominous click, followed by the unmistakeable sound of a cave-in. I turned and bolted only to notice on my way out that all that had happened was some rocks fell to cover one of the two paths within the cave. Both paths led to the same point, so I’d lost nothing. It’s all big ideas and no pay off here.
Deadfall Adventures is what I imagine would happen if you gave Michael Bay a brief plot synopsis of the Indiana Jones Trilogy and then told him to go remake it, but with more explosions and wise cracks, because that’s what the key demographics love. It goes so wholesale with its ripping off of other franchises that it has absolutely no identity of its own. Indiana Jones mine cart section? Check. Mysterious storm that takes down the plane ala Tomb Raider? Check. Nazi’s seeking an ancient artefact ala pretty much everything? Check.
There is some fun to be found here, but only in what Deadfall Adventures has borrowed from other games. It brings nothing new to the table. I can’t even recommend it to the achievement hunters out there due to its tacked on multiplayer, whose servers will be less populated than Chernobyl. The box proudly states that “All things live forever, though at times they sleep and are forgotten”. Deadfall Adventures should be left in its tomb to be forgotten.
Have you played Deadfall and if so do you agree with the review? Let us know what you think in the comments below.