The DigestVideo

Games Of August 2012: Deadlight

It’s dead, all right.

By John Teti • September 12, 2012

In case you missed it: On Monday, we exposed our own hypocrisy in our discussion of Sleeping Dogs, and yesterday, Darksiders II made us very tired of Zelda clones.

It’s been kind of a lousy “Summer Of Arcade” on the Xbox, hasn’t it? Sure, there was Dust: An Elysian Tail, but then there was also that throwaway Kinect thing (Wreckateer), a Tony Hawk rehash, and the topic of today’s episode, Deadlight. Now, the Kinect business was destined to be a waste of our time, but I can forgive the folks at Microsoft for this one. Deadlight has the look of past Summer Of Arcade gems like Limbo and Shadow Complex. The trouble is, that’s all it’s got.

At least today we’re finally able to fulfill equal-time requirements by giving Soupy The Comment Cat an on-screen cameo. Of course, unbeknown to me, Nipsey struck back by walking into the shot multiple times during the rest of the taping. Thanks for watching this week.

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  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    I loved the ominous cat tail traversing the bottom of the scene, and snaking behind the table. It was like a shark fin, and gave the whole video a Jaws-like tension. Add some stirring strings, and a closing stinger shot of Drew being suddenly attacked by a fuzzy ginger blur, and you’ve got a web video that’s ready for the multiplex!

    • Fluka

      Yeah, every time Soupy’s tail or face appeared somewhere in the frame, my brain immediately flatlined to “KITTY.”  

      Sincerely, someone whose cat is her Disqus avatar.

      • Fixda Fernback

        Vincent the cat approves:

        http://i.imgur.com/1rP7S.jpg

        • Fluka

          WOOK AT THOSE WIDDLE PAWS.

          Uh!  I, er.  Hum.  *Slinks off in embarrassment.*

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      You’re confusing the hunter with the hunted. Drew used the masking tape on the shed door hole, the spray bottle on Soupy, picked up the masking tape, combined the ginger fur with the syrup, and the rest is history.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         Oh, my God. Where is the LOVE button?

      • HobbesMkii

         If anything can convince a man to shave, it must be merciless ribbing from anonymous internet commenters, no?

        • Drew Toal

          No!

        • HobbesMkii

          How dare you challenge the will of the collective Disqus commentariat hivemind, @andrewtoal:disqus?! For this you shall be cursed with a thousand double posts!

        • Drew Toal

          I’ll see you in hell. 

      • Fixda Fernback

        So that’s why he thinks everything tastes like cat hair!

      • Electric Dragon

        Presumably Drew then had to draw a matching moustache on his photo ID with orange felt tip.

  • http://twitter.com/MasterPrudent Glen H

    Not sure if they were the first but before Infamous the Homeworld games used comic book style cutscenes as a way of overcoming the cinematic limitations of their game engines. It’s impressive how atmospheric they are given that they often convey pretty banal information.

    (btw does anybody know anywhere were I can get a digital copy of the first game? Never did get the chance to play it and I love the non-campaign bits of 2.)

  • Cloks

    I would think that Max Payne started the comic book style cut-scene trend, but someone will pull out an earlier example. Max Payne did it really well IMHO, especially with Baseball Bat Boy and the slow realization that you’re in a video-game. I could’ve done without the jumping nightmare blood levels though.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Ooh, good call!

      • HobbesMkii

         Max Payne is what I thought of to, but I think there was a very long stretch in between where no one was doing it. Then I think there were some games that figured out they could slash a bit of their budget by doing it comic book style and it would look classier than the early 90s when rendered cutscenes weren’t an option and had to be still images with voice overs.

        • Mike Ferraro

          It’s absolutely a budget consideration, the “style” you put on your sliding drawings is just the excuse for stopping at the storyboard phase.
          Full-motion cutscenes (both in engine and pre-rendered) can cost you tens of thousands of dollars per minute to animate, dress, and light/render. You can easily add a million bucks to the budget.
          Cheap storytelling can be done well and be more effective than the expensive choice, but it needs to be clever in its approach.  Mostly it needs to feel of a piece with the gameplay, and I can’t think of a game where comic book illustrations don’t seem totally incongruous with how the gameplay looks and feels.

          I think the only reason games ever got away with it was the Ninja Gaiden / Final Fantasy effect: people understood “cutscene mode” as a visual reward for the much cruder-looking “gameplay mode”.  But now that gameplay looks better than a comic book drawing, it feels second-rate.

    • Effigy_Power

       Especially since in a drug haze Max has flashes of breaking the 4th wall and acknowledges that he might be inside a graphic novel.
      Apart from that, the comic interludes were actually made better than the game, so that might play a part.
      Mind you, I have never been a fan of weird diagonal panels that way. It’s a bit like “the flesh of the fallen angles”…
      And yes, I referenced that specifically for this lame pun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      I remember there was some Sega game that was a beat-em-up that had you traversing comic panels to progress. It also was hard as shit. I can’t believe I forgot the name – I was playing it last month!

      • Cloks

        Comix Zone – or some other spelling of the rad ’90s. I played that as a wee lad, seeing as Sega was nice enough to port it to Windows 95. I never beat it, but it seemed to have a great awareness of the “radness” that plagued the comics being released alongside it and mocked it – although I could be remembering this entirely wrong.

        • Fixda Fernback

          No, I think the “TOTALLY TUBULAR DUDE!” feel had to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. For fuck’s sake, the guy has a pet rat that helps him do shit. Also, that game is awesome… if you can find the “Sega Classics Collection” games (there’s a couple volumes, I forget which one Comix Zone was on), that–and tons of other awesome Sega games–is on there.

        • doyourealize

          Also for @facebook-501651:disqus : There’s also a great LBP2 level done in the comic panel style. I unfortunately can’t remember the name, but it was done really well.

  • Effigy_Power

    In the meantime: http://imgbox.com/adoaEnmq

    • Drew Toal

      Yes! Nice likeness.

    • Fluka

      Niiiiiiice.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      The other day I had a critic make an impassioned plea to be the next guest on The Digest; he was really jealous of the Digest reader art.

      • Effigy_Power

        I don’t know… Drew’s mustache has given me a lot of ideas… “Princess Toalstool” stealing Mario’s mustache being at the forefront. ^_^

        • Drew Toal

          It’s an inspiration to us all.

      • HobbesMkii

         You hear that, @Effigy_Power:disqus ? Lucrative career ahead of you doing caricatures of video game critics!

    • caspiancomic

       I’d like to see this trend continue, so we can see all of history’s greatest Teti’s and their foils/sidekicks, Blackadder style.

  • Enkidum

    LESS PERFUMEY BALLS
    SLIPPERY BALLS
    TEA BALLS

    Again, I’m the only one who notes this stuff?

    Perhaps I’m the only father who found my kids’ rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Fart hilarious too?

  • War Is the H-Word

    On the Lego’s vs lego brick’s argument, I actually choose the secret third answer, lego (plural). As in “here is some lego”.

    ‘Lego brick’s', while technically accurate, sounds too much like scientific nomenclature for childrens toys. Whereas ‘lego’s’ just sounds awkwardly unnecesary. I think the term legos might be an American thing though.

    • Electric Dragon

      This is correct. Americans tend to treat Lego as a count noun. One Lego, two Legos, some Legos, lots of Legos. Commonwealth types usually treat it as a mass noun (like “rice”). One bit of Lego, two bits of Lego, some Lego, lots of Lego.

      As one of the aforesaid Commonwealth types, I reserve the right to punch in the face anyone who says “Legos” in normal conversation.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    The Gameological Society was almost empty. A ray of moonlight slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It was the lonely hour of three.

    Staggering Stew Bum sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty container of bubble tea. Now and again he glanced up at the Borderlands 2 adverts which eyed him from all around the room. BORDERLANDS 2 IS WATCHING YOU the captions said.

    Staggering Stew Bum drew a deep breath. An extraordinary medley of feeling – but it was not a medley, exactly; rather it was successive layers of feeling, in which one could not say which layer was undermost – struggled inside him.

    The spasm passed. Staggering Stew Bum for the moment could not settle down to serious study of the words of the article below the video link. His thoughts wandered again. Almost unconsciously he traced with his finger in the dust on the table:
    BORDERLANDS + EVEN MORE AWESOMENESS = BORDERLANDS 2

    “They can’t get inside you”, Effigy_Power had said. But they could get inside you. “What happens to you is forever”, Teti had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own comments, from which you could never recover. Something was killed in your breast: burnt out, cauterised out.

    Clicking on the Digest video had let loose an enormous volume of dubstep noise. Already an excited stream of words was gabbling from the telescreen. Under the table Staggering Stew Bum’s feet made convulsive movements. He had not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly running, cheering himself deaf. He looked over again at the Borderlands 2 adverts. The colossus that bestrode the world! The rock against which the hordes of other game developers dashed themselves in vain! He thought how two days ago — yes, only two days — there had still been equivocation in his heart as he wondered whether Borderlands 2 would surpass the excellence of its predecessor. Much had changed in him since that first edition of this week’s Digest, but the final, indispensable, healing change had never happened, until this moment.

    The images from the telescreen were still pouring forth its tale of action and booty and slaughter, but the shouting died down a little as the new edition of the Digest begun. Staggering Stew Bum, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in Keyboard Geniuses, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the comments section, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and a moderator at his back. The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

    Staggering Stew Bum gazed up at both faces. Three episodes of the Digest it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the ginger moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two bubble tea-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Borderlands 2.

    • caspiancomic

      It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking Borderlands 2.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Don’t forget to wield your Doubleplus-UnGun (an electro-sword) in defense of the Chocolate Ration convoy!  We’ve always been at war with Atlas Corp!

  • Heffenfeffer

    Deadlight…it was OK, but not all that great. And, yeah, it’s more or less Limbo in color. Especially with all the instakills. I don’t even know why they bothered with a life meter in the first place. The stamina meter was an interesting concept, but considering that you can still swing your axe around with zero stamina, it too falls into “What’s the point?” territory. And the whole segment with The Rat Man just seems tacked on as an excuse to do more parkour. I could get behind having to do freerunning stuff in the city, but the sewer felt like some sort of DLC level.

    It’s too bad, because there were some genuinely good things about the game, the collectibles in particular. The scrapbook is good on its own, but the diary is especially well done, as it’s partially filled in when you start the game and gradually fills in more details about Randall’s life when you find more pages. The one from the day that Randall left his hometown is especially chilling for spoiler-related reasons. Also good for a laugh are the Tiger handheld-esque games about hair metal and aerobics, as well as the achievements being named after various 80′s songs.

    I guess it could be one of the subjects of an upcoming Inventory: Great features in otherwise sub-par games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1066702065 Rodrigo Lañas

    you guys are tired of everything

  • Fixda Fernback

    To paraphrase Frank Booth: “Suave! God DAMN you are [two] suave fucker[s]!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/calnholt Calvin Holt

    Aspects of Deadlight that were discussed:

    - Voice overs
    - Visuals
    - Writing
    - Comic book style cinematics

    Aspects not discussed:

    - Gameplay

    Uhhhh…

    • Effigy_Power

      Yeah, real shame they didn’t discuss that already on 5,000 other websites critiquing games.
      Oh wait, they did.

      • Fixda Fernback

        *snaps fingers in Z-formation, while moving my head back and forth in a sassy fashion*

  • http://twitter.com/inmostlight Adam R

    Agreed about the Summer of Arcade, this was the weakest one yet with no games I was interested in.  Weirdly, there were great games immediately before (Spelunky) and after (Rock Band Blitz, Mark of the Ninja).  Somebody at Microsoft really screwed up in picking which games to promote this year.

    • DreadfulHero

      Actually, it was pretty on course for me. Every year I generally will buy one game and the rest falls by the wayside. I ended up buying games like Shadow Complex and Castle Crashers later, and Braid and Limbo and Bastion I just waited for them to be released on the PC.

      The only thing is that it at least seems like the other years had at least a fairly interesting group of games even if they weren’t something I ever played. Nothing but Dust: An Elysian Tail really interested me this year. I had actually been waiting to play it since I first saw a video for it back in ’09, and I would always check up on the developer’s site every six or so months to see what was happening with it. I can easily say it was my most anticipated XBLA release ever. Deadlight seemed okay, but nothing really intriguing. Everything else? Who cares. But yeah, it did seem like they dropped the ball. I think if Mark of the Ninja had replaced something else, the entire event this year probably would’ve been looked at a little better. It was even published by Microsoft Studios. I’ve only played the demo but it seems pretty cool. Not sure how they messed that one up when they were the ones releasing it just a couple weeks after SoA ended.

  • ChicaneryTheYounger

    I just want my kids back.

  • http://www.olympicartichoke.podbean.com/ The Warfreak

    So, this has nothing to do with Pennywise, huh?