Dead in the Quatermain
Loosely inspired by the novels of H Rider Haggard, Deadfall Adventures weaves a tale of ancient civilisations and powerful relics dotted around the globe. Set during World War II, it pits James Quatermain, grandson of Haggard’s famed protagonist Allan, against treasure-seeking Nazis and revenant monsters in equal measure. Combining the action of a first person shooter with the puzzle solving challenges of classic point and click games, this should have everything it needs to excite players. Unfortunately, it’s almost universally terrible.
James himself is a cut-rate Indiana Jones – at best a knock-off Nathan Drake. Though clearly intended to be roguish and charming, he’s instead wholly unlikeable. His partner, Jennifer Goodwin, is no better, and the forced flirting between the two during cutscenes is painful to behold. Being saddled with these two for the duration of the game is a cruelty only made worse by some of the foulest voice acting in years.
On a mechanical level, Deadfall is broken. Aiming any weapon at an enemy feels like trying to poke them with a 10-metre stick: it’s slow, imprecise and robs the player of any level of control. Closing your eyes and blind firing would likely be more accurate. But then, the AI for human enemies is so bad that you can stand in open view, take a good few minutes lining up your invisible stick, without ever getting hit yourself. Monsters are worse, lumbering towards you with no intent beyond, perhaps, wanting some kind of ghoulish hug. Shining your torch on them – taking a cue from another Alan, but certainly not Quatermain – renders them vulnerable to bullets but the light itself will eventually burn them up. Why bother shooting?
Visually too, the game is appalling. Chunky, jerky characters are made worse with hideous texturing. Deadfall does occasionally pull out some impressive environments, only to let itself down with small, linearly chained areas to explore. Graphical glitches are abundant throughout, while the lighting ranges from acceptable to utterly dreadful.
If there’s a positive to be found in the game, it’s that its puzzles are often cleverly designed and implemented. They’re far too infrequent though, highlighting how bad the rest of the package is. In short, Deadfall Adventures a game so bad that Uwe Boll making a movie from it would only be an improvement.