The first-person shooter genre has arguably become stale in recent years. The continual strive to become the dominant form of interactive entertainment has seen the variety taken out of the genre forcibly and instead giving players thrills that aim for the lowest common denominator in the hope of attracting as big an audience as possible. It’s true that the likes of Metro: Last Light, BioShock Infinite and even the recently released Alien Rage have tried to shake things up in one way or another, but these are the exception not the rule. Nordic Games’ Deadfall Adventures sits more comfortably with these titles than any faux military simulation, as it is based entirely in the realm of fantasy.
The story of Deadfall Adventures is delivered by the lead protagonist, Lee Quatermain, as he writes for an audience reading about his adventures long after they’ve drawn to a close, it’s an interesting framing device that allows the player to quickly familiarise themselves with Quatermain’s character: great grandson of the legendary Allan Quatermain, Lee survives on his name alone. He’s a washed-up drunk that owes far more than his paltry tour guide earnings will ever earn him, and so when the opportunity to make a little extra capital arises he can hardly refuse.
Of course, if someone’s willing to pay over the odds for his services it would be easy to predict that things aren’t going to be easy. It’s not long before the player is knee-deep in gun fire and wheeling out twin pistols to deal damage to dozens of enemies as they weave in-and-out of cover. In the build played by Electronic Theatre the collision detection seems a little out of alignment and the movement was choppy, but these issues will surely be fixed prior to release. More important is the unique take on those optional collectables that have become a mainstay of videogames on modern times.
Most videogames will scatter their useless junk through the levels, simply waiting to be found by the player and adding to their tally. In Deadfall Adventures however, things aren’t quite that simple. The collectable items won’t be hidden – they’re clear as day in the examples witnessed by Electronic Theatre – however they’re not immediately accessible. In order to reach these items players must solve a puzzle of increasing difficulty. The more memorable example seen by Electronic Theatre involved shooting out wooden beams in the correct order so as to lower the collectable to a height at which it could be picked up.
Of course, as with any similar collectables system, you can simply ignore these items and continue with your quest. Doing so will be to your detriment however, as it’s with these items that players will gain new abilities. Taking the items to a special statue will unlock skill points in one of three categories – Path of Life, Path of Warriors of Path of Light – each offering bonuses in different areas. It’s this risk/reward system that sets Deadfall Adventures aside from the competition, and Electronic Theatre hopes that Nordic Games ensure that the opportunities such a change of pace brings are fully explored.