What The Farm 51 attempts to do with Deadfall Adventures is recreate the action-adventure archetype of the 1980s, complete with the grizzled disenchanted hero, James Quatermain, exotic faraway lands, supernatural events and of course, the “damsel in distress.” The problem with this is that instead of empowering the player or creating a unique exciting experience, Deadfall Adventures turns out to be a poor, hand-holding attempt at an Indiana Jones parody.
When I say that Deadfall Adventures seems to copy Indiana Jones, I don’t mean that there are a couple of similar elements, as it literally uses some of the most iconic things about the movie series; there are Nazis, mine-cart rides, mysterious ancient artifacts, giant falling boulders and one of the main characters just happens to be an archaeologist. Apparently the game is actually based off of the H. Rider Haggard Quatermain novels, which were the basis for the Indiana Jones series, but it feels like a shallow comparison without the cinematic nostalgia.
So after about 10 minutes of gameplay it’s obvious that we’ve got a corridor shooter with a cheesy action plotline on our hands, but this doesn’t completely end all chances for Deadfall Adventures…yet. What’s even more offensive than blatant similarities of a popular movie series from the 1980s, is the attempted masking of completely linear gameplay with the illusion of “treasure hunting.” Apparently treasure hunting involves taking the one route that deviates from the linear story path or solving puzzles that are required to progress anyways.
While linear storytelling has apparently become the standard of first-person shooters today, with Call of Duty and Battlefield being a couple of the most notorious offenders, advertising a game as a treasuring hunting experience when it’s simply a Point A to Point B game feels like a lie to potential buyers. The gameplay in Deadfall Adventures can be summed up as such: kill some bad guys, save the girl, solve the “puzzle,” become betrayed or captured, then rinse and repeat.
Unfortunately, the shooting mechanics are also incredibly vanilla. Players are equipped with a main weapon, generally a rifle or shotgun, pistols as a secondary weapon, and grenades or dynamite. There are no special abilities or interesting cover mechanics and the only upgrades, obtained from collecting treasures, consist of extra health or more damage. The majority of the time you’re fighting Nazis or “commie” Russians, who possess a simplistic, cover-based AI. The only slight deviation in the combat comes when fighting mummies (which are apparently everywhere), since they must be set on fire with the flashlight of all things, and then shot.
Furthermore, not only are the story and combat fairly simple, but the puzzles are incredibly generic. Most of them can be solved by following Quatermain’s notebook and the rest consist of: mirror and light reflection, rearranging pictures, and trial and error sequences. Including anything that is trial and error in a game is one of the most frustrating things a gamer can experience. First off, it’s not fun to have to restart a level multiple times based on luck. Secondly, it chips away at the immersion factors in the game; realizing that the player is advancing completely on blind luck alone breaks the authenticity of the hero.
Normally I could just write off Deadfall Adventures as another mediocre, however, generally entertaining FPS, but there are a number of irritating game mechanics and bugs that push it slightly lower. Some examples of these issues include a floating crowbar that can close valves by itself, NPCs that get stuck on structures and prevent the advancement of the story, and frustrating scripted destructible objects. There are a few instances where ropes need to be shot to create bridges and only one specific rope, out of many, can be destroyed to cross the objective.
In the end, due to its lack of creativity and originality, gameplay issues and generally repetitive nature, Deadfall Adventures becomes a somewhat forgettable experience that I cannot recommend for a purchase.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which we were provided with.
While Deadfall Adventures shares its inspiration with Indiana Jones, it lacks everything that made the movie series special. Instead, it features bland puzzles, basic combat mechanics and many frustrating gameplay issues.