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Deadlight review: A beautiful-looking platformer, hobbled by frustrations

It's a zombie apocalypse! (Or maybe just the 80s)

What would you do if, like in Deadlight, the zombie apocalypse hit tomorrow? Most of us would whip out our iPhones and start texting our mates. Tough guys would grab weapons. Cowards would run.

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Deadlight's Randall Wayne is neither, and there aren't many iPhones knocking about his 80's Seattle turf when walkers invade stadiums and city centres, suburbs and parks, bedrooms and bathrooms. He's an average man with average moves: he can't jump far, can barely swing an axe without feeling the burn, and with a heavy grunt drags crates to solve pressure pad puzzles.

Apart from the odd filmic sprint from a chasing chopper or the introduction of military pantomime villains this is a grounded adventure - an infectious outbreak, a decimated city, and a desperate father trying to find his little girl. The game's part of a platformer lineage dating back decades, ledge-grabbing sibling of Flashback, Prince of Persia and Another World. Randall ('Randy' to his friends, detailed in sunny memories doubling as tutorials) shares the same philosophy of movement.

It's less about double-jumping on enemy heads and more about working your way, cat-like, through environments: sidling a ledge here, hanging off an electrical box there, easing onto drainpipes, leaping across litter-strewn alleys - and then barely latching onto the windowsill opposite with finger tips and slamming with a thud into the brick. In areas requiring precision, however, the approach quite literally falls down.

RATMAN AND ROBBINS

Early on you'll meet the Ratman, a demented survivor with a scrawny frame. Think Tim Robbins in War of the Worlds dressed in the wardrobe of Russell Brand. Under an ordinary picket-fence home he's built a fiendish maze of pressure pad traps, fetid water and spiked pits, a post-apocalyptic Home Alone-style rat-run that makes a good change of pace from surface zombie-dodging but requires platforming accuracy Deadlight just doesn't have.

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One section saw us dragging a box to an edge to clear a gap. We stood on the box and jumped - but not far enough. We tried a second time - same again. We tried a third time, using identical technique, and Randall's jump inexplicably grew by several feet. This was a simple section ruined by inconsistency, and, above all, consistency - of rules, of movement, of overall design - is paramount in games.

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