Just over a year ago The Farm 51, a Polish developer not especially well known amongst gamers, announced the arrival of Deadfall Adventures; a first person Indiana Drake, if you will. This week marks the emergence of this interesting but perfectible title and, since we love pampering you here on Gamersyde, here is a full review of the PC version complete with our usual assortment of videos in 1080p 60 fps. Note: Again, you should thank our very good friend dark10x, who worked real hard to translate the full review.
Let's be clear upfront, Deadfall Adventures not so subtly retreads the ground laid by films such as Indiana Jones. Nazis, ancient trap-filled temples, mystical creatures, it's all here right up to the inevitable mine cart sequence. Even the main character is vaguely reminiscent of the dashing Harrison Ford. We certainly might have appreciated a little more subtlety here with the movie references but the mixture of action and puzzle solving are classic third person action gaming (think Tomb Raider and Uncharted) in the first person perspective. Moreover, we can't deny the fact that there is definite pleasure in traveling around the world to diverse exotic locations. That being said, the overall tone of the game remains too tacky to be fully enjoyable and the plot is really too poorly orchestrated to keep the player interested. There is a probably desire to give Deadfall Adventures a comic book feel, with the unrealistic bright red blood that splatters every time you shoot down an enemy soldier, but it falls short most of the time.
This Nordic Games published title, then, is essentially a return to the old days of first person shooting bringing us back to a time when action games didn't skimp on exploration and puzzles. The game even offers you some additional control over the challenge right out of the gate, proposing both the standard difficulty setting for combat as well as an option to adjust puzzle difficulty. Between swift death at the hand of deadly traps or the cracking open of ancient passageways via object manipulation, they've certainly delivered on the adventure portion of this action-adventure. Similar to Uncharted, the notebook of your great grandfather is always at hand to offer clues, but you'll still spend a bit of time digging for a solution yourself while employing a bit of trial and error. There are even puzzles designed to test your dexterity by asking the player to hit a number of targets appearing in rapid succession in order to disarm traps. Of course, your weapons will serve as more than a puzzle solving device as you engage your enemies, some of them even being undead.
Area 51: forbidden dead zone
Unfortunately, combat highlights one of the key problems we have with The Farm 51's first title; playability with a gamepad. Of course, we need not be reminded that, when it comes to playing FPS on the PC, keyboard and mouse reign supreme, especially considering the classic gameplay onhand. If you've opted for the comfy couch instead of the ultra-comfy elite leather chair PC experience, however, it's difficult to avoid pulling out a controller. The most notable fault lies in the twitchy analog movement, which never feels quite natural, alongside aiming, which is overly difficult. Both problems suggest that the game was not properly tuned for a controller. You can play with the sensitivity settings all you like, but no combination manages to feel quite right. When engaged in combat it's certainly possible to fumble your way through an encounter but it's quite another story when you're tasked with hitting three small targets within a short time limit. At these points, we were often left with no other choice but to revert back to mouse and keyboard in order to proceed. An analog to this situation, if you will, is the feel of playing Half-Life 2 with a pad, but worse. With the game being released on Xbox 360 as well we have some concerns over the playability of the console version.
On top of this we have some other problems with the interface such as the combining of 'jump' and 'use' into a single button or the fact that, upon reloading your weapon, the game does not return to the ironsights view, even when holding down the fire button - which results in the need to let go of the buttons before re-engaging. We also encountered a number of collision detection issues which can be frustrating, especially when you've landed on a platform only to find yourself unable to move. In a more general sense, we were also disappointed with the rather lackluster combat sequences which often felt undermined by the very basic AI and its relatively sparse array of actions (oh look, he can take cover!). They spice things up a bit when rolling out the ancient mummy warriors which require you to aim your flashlight at them until they are weakened enough to attack (as in the fourth Alone in the Dark or, more recently, Alan Wake), though it still lacks an appropriate punch. Despite this, the game managed to keep our attention in the long haul with its exotic landscapes which continually beckon the player to continue.
Only the penitent man shall pass
Visually speaking, the PC version provides a particularly rich world to explore. Unreal Engine 3 does the heavy lifting here delivering generally lovely visuals despite some poor water effects here and there. A shame considering the excellent effects featured in, say, BioShock back in 2007 using an older iteration of Unreal Engine. Of course, it's not always consistent, with some environments decidedly less impressive than others, but the overall presentation is quite lovely indeed. The icing on the cake here is that the game pushes beyond a series of monster filled corridors by offering some genuinely wide open locales ripe for exploration. You'll want to be careful when poking around, however, as a single misstep could you send you back to one of the checkpoints which are spaced pretty far apart at times. Disappointingly, the cutscenes all feel rather cheap with dated character models and rigid animation all around. Add in in the rather stiff performance from the English actor playing the lead, it becomes clear that presentation is one of the game's weaker assets. It's a pity, then, that their attempts to pay tribute to Indiana Jones and the pulp serials of old fall so flat.
The soundtrack, however, is pretty good even if it doesn't really push any musical boundaries. Sure, it doesn't quite hold the same resonance of the main themes in games such as Uncharted or the original Tomb Raider games, but it still manages to deliver a bit of panache to the adventure as our hero travels the globe. Touching again on the rather lackluster AI, it's true that you fall occasionally to the German soldiers but, at least on normal difficulty, it's actually rather rare to be killed because of them. They're often set up in rather conspicuous situations with many an enemy waiting patiently near a stack of explosive barrels or hiding in a conveniently placed shadowy corner. The non-human enemies, however, don't even bother with such trifles and generally run straight for the player (though the occasional shield prolongs their after-life by a few seconds). Of course, being dead already, we can't exactly fault their straightforward approach.
Deadfall Adventures is clearly old school in its design. Sometimes it's for the best, when it stops being a mere first person shooter to bring a touch of adventure to the mix, with puzzles and exploration to break the normal routine of the genre. Sometimes, it's for the worst, when the controls and rather poor AI get in the way, making combat feel clunky. All in all, Deadfall Adventures is not a bad game, but it's far from being great either, so we can only recommend you wait until a price drop to give it a go. We enjoyed it, it's not as bad as some reviewers said it is, but there is clear room for improvement. Note that there is a multiplayer mode but that we haven't had a chance to play it in time for the publication of our review.