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Video Game / Deadlight

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Randall Wayne is a 30-something ex-park ranger, living a simple but comfortable life in 1980s Canada with his wife and daughter. And then the Shadows came.

Deadlight is a 2D Cinematic Platformer utilizing the Unreal engine released in August, 2012 on Xbox Live Arcade. With a focus on navigating the ruined city of Seattle and avoiding the shambling undead (rather than out-and-out fighting them), the player leads Randall through the streets, city, suburbs and sewers, all the while fleeing from the hordes of "Shadows" and the men of the sinister "New Law" organisation...

The game consists of puzzles which the player must solve as he attempts to avoid the many Shadows he encounters. Players are advised to avoid Shadows as much as possible, and try not to engage them in combat. There are only a small number of occasions when combat is completely necessary however, and throughout the game, the emphasis of the gameplay remains strongly on avoiding Shadows, not confronting them.

Deadlight contains examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Seattle apparently has one. Particularly, the Seattle Underground is where The Rat has made his home, and are a justified example as they were once the "first floor" of many buildings in the Pioneer Square neighborhood before the entire area was regraded (though the game really stretches it for their vertical scale.)
  • Action Survivor: Randall is pretty fit, all things considered, but he's not an action hero. More than 2 shadows at once tend to cause problems unless you've got plenty of extra ammo and steady aim.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom/Lead the Target: The Helicopter's gunfire acts like this, always hitting just behind Randall's fleeing legs.
  • Alternate History: Beginning with an alternate end to the Cuban Missile Crisis (one where JFK allowed Russia to store its nukes in Cuba), concluding with a zombie apocalypse in 1986. It's possible that the Shadows are the result of Communist Russia being up to no good, but there's no real answers.
  • Armies Are Evil: The surviving US Armed Forces in Seattle have set themselves up as "The New Law," basically a military junta out to loot the ruined city, rape any women they find, and kill anyone who resists. The "safe point" they're hosting is a trap to lure in exploitable survivors.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Some of the neighborhoods depicted do not connect to each other in real life the way they do in the game. The Seattle Underground is a real place, but not nearly as deep or spacious as in the game. Seattle has never had subway tunnels (though it does have a bus tunnel, but construction on that began the year after the game takes place). Some of these things can be Handwaved as being part of the game's Alternate History.
  • Bland-Name Product: Exxen oil stations.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: After helping Stella escape on a sailboat, Randall decides to stay behind on the pier, both to help hold off the Shadows as well as come to terms over mercy killing his family. Subverted in the alternate ending where Randall is attacked by Stella and hits his head on a post, paralyzing him as he slowly dies.
  • Boom, Headshot!: On the rare occasions you have a gun, and the ammo to use it, this is the only way to take out a Shadow.
  • Dwindling Party: Strange version: Randall is chasing after his group of survivor friends which sadly gets smaller the more of them he finds. In the alternate ending, it's revealed that Randall (who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder) has been murdering each survivor as he comes across them and Stella is the only one who manages to escape.
  • Easter Egg: Throughout the game, you can collect identification cards from some of the bodies that litter the levels; ALL of them are from well-known serial killers...
  • Escort Mission: Used and inverted—at one point you're being escorted to safety by the Ratboy.
  • Expy: Randall's last name of Wayne, his roof-hopping, his stealthiness, his growly voice, his noir-like monologues, his multiple B&E's, his constant gathering clues and trying to solve mysteries, his antisocial nature and other borderline delusional psychological problems, have caused many to identify him as Zombie-Survivor!Batman. The diary makes him seem even more like Forest-Ranger!Batman.
  • Finishing Move: Randall can perform a wide over-handed swing of his axe to plant a skull-splitting blow on downed Shadows. This is the only way to be certain that they stay down, but it takes a lot of stamina to execute and leaves him vulnerable if they are still upright.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Repeatedly.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Randall says this while approaching the center of the Safe Point, as an American flag flaps upside down on a flagpole in the background.note 
  • Meaningful Background Event: Shadows feeding on other people, helicopters flying in the background, a car flipping over, buildings in the background with shadows trapped in them (you can see them in the windows), writhing body bags, etc.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: They're not zombies, they're Shadows. Since everything in the foreground is in blackness, this is actually a pretty appropriate name to give them.
  • Oh, Crap!: Randall mutters one whenever something abruptly gives out from under him, or when a sufficiently hefty gang of dead break down any nearby barricades.
  • Off with His Head!: If you get a particularly lucky hit with an axe... pop! There's even an achievement for it! The quickest way to get it, of course, is to take a swing at a child Shadow.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Not much information is given, but they'll hunker down and eat a corpse if they find it, and their bite is stated to be infectious.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: If a Shadow spots Randall, their eyes will go from white to red as they attack.
  • Respawning Enemies: Some areas will never run out of Shadows, and any Randall kills will be replaced by more stumbling out of the background. Usually these are in areas with ammo drops that he can resupply at for an infinite amount of total ammo, but the enemies literally respawn faster than he can collect it and keep his weapon loaded. They exist primarily to add an element of extra danger and pressure to what would otherwise be a simple puzzle.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: "Safe Point".
  • Scenery Gorn: Buildings on fire, wrecked cars, etc.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: While the shotgun can kill multiple Shadows in a single blast, you have to be lucky and have the high ground to reliably do so. While psychologically satisfying, the pistol is a superior weapon.
  • Shout-Out: The mysterious dungeon master is nicknamed the Ratman.
    • Every single achievement is named after a song from the 80s. The title drop (see below) may be an indirect shout-out to another 80s song, "Invisible Sun."
    • The LCD games are layered shout-outs: they resemble Game & Watch games physically, have graphics reminiscent of Tiger Electronics LCD games, and reference Guitar Hero, various rhythm games, and the Cthulhu Mythos in their themes.
    • The part where Randall escapes from the helicopter while following "Ratboy", jumping between buildings and cranes, is an explicit homage to Canabalt; the audio track associated to that scene is even titled "Canabalt".
  • Shown Their Work: Some of the architecture and street layouts (what you can see of them) is believable as a local in Seattle, circa 1986. However, there is some Artistic License – Geography too, since as accurate as some specific locations look, they do not connect together in a way that makes sense for Seattle.note 
  • Some Dexterity Required: While not the case in the XBLA release, the PC port of it maps the sprint key to left shift and the crouch key to left control. These are pretty standard mappings on PC games, but the sprinting-roll is a required maneuver in this game which requires the player to press crouch while holding down sprint and holding down either left or right. Try doing all of that with the same pinky finger. A player should be encouraged to either remap the controls, or play with a USB controller.
  • Stock Shout-Out: The Ratman's dungeons are, according to the narration, based on Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. It's lip service, though, since none of the puzzle areas resemble Dante's Hell beyond an abundance of spikes and the dead.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Randall can't swim, or even hold his breath. So if you put him in more than 5ft of water, even if he's got something right there to hang onto, glug glug glug...
  • Surreal Horror: The flashbacks and nightmares become more vivid and, well, nightmarish as the game goes on. So do the journal entries, including one with a rather graphic depiction of a bloody dead dog hanging from a noose with a bag over it's head, while Randall muses about how good it tasted and how upset his daughter had been.
  • Survivors With Slingshots: Randall gets a shanghai that is invaluable for hitting targets during the Ratman's puzzle gauntlets, and after you get out of it, you can use it to distract Shadows with the pebbles.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Pistol ammo pickups always top you off to the maximum of 13 (19 with a full cylinder). There are also infinite-use pistol ammo refills, usually near a lock you'll need to shoot out or right before you're about to get up to your neck in zombies.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Or rather tactical suicide mooks. While zombies are difficult to put down in groups, they are still rock-stupid animated corpses. Stand on the other side of a pit and whistle — the Shadows will trip over themselves and to their doom just to get to you.
  • Taunt Button: It has a practical use for getting Shadows' attention if they have not already noticed Randall. The Shadows are not very smart, and it can be used to lure them into traps or bunch them up so they can be evaded all at once.
  • Twist Ending
    • The normal ending has Randall finally realize that his wife and daughter were Dead All Along.
    • The alternate ending (an exlusive of the PC version: you need to finish the Nightmare Mode unlocked by finishing the game the first time) is even darker: Randall is revealed to be a serial killer with dissociative identity disorder (some pages of his diary hint at it), and it was he who killed the companionsnote . This is revealed after Stella notices that Randall's wearing Karla's necklace and shoves him backwards, causing him to hit his head and realize what had really happened. May double as a Earn Your Bad Ending.
  • Wall Jump: While Randall is unusually spry in general, his wall jump almost nudges him into Badass Normal territory.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The moral of the story, as well as an indirect Title Drop. "There's no such thing as darkness. There's only light we can't see." The title drop comes from Randall's deceased wife and daughter guiding him through his quest.