07th Nov2018

‘Deadbolt’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

deadbolt-screen

Playing like Gunpoint with the twitch-reflex sensibilities of Hotline Miami, the only thing that I can imagine putting people off this very addictive title is the difficulty curve… which is vertical.

Deadbolt puts you in the shoes of the Grim Reaper, a Grim Reaper who knows how to handle a gun and how to throw projectiles with unerring accuracy..but gets killed in a single hit. Just from that sentence, I’m pretty sure that you’ll know how this is going to play out.

The levels in Deadbolt start off simply enough, choose your two armaments from the boot of your car (naturally, ammo is scarce and so each shot has to count), head into whichever crack house / factory / etc. that stands before you and blow everyone away, or should I say…every’thing’ away. Your enemies in Deadbolt are the undead, from zombies to vampires and banshees, the Grim Reaper will blast his way through quite the gallery of horror before his quest is done. Each enemy acts slightly differently and requires different tactics. There are zombies that casually walk around, taking cover when necessary as well as zombies that will run straight for you, 28 days later style and yet still more that sport shotguns and take a few more bullets to drop or perhaps have their heads detached and placed elsewhere, requiring a different kind of head shot indeed.

The Reaper’s choice of weapons is also important, sometimes the levels will be more open, needing more accuracy or perhaps if a few small rooms are in play, it may be more practical to take a shotgun or an Uzi to spray and pray. There are also knives and hammers scattered around and over a dozen more weapons to unlock via the spending of souls which are earned for completing levels quickly and quietly.

As you make your way through the game, you’ll have the partner of some truly scene-setting smoky electronica (muffled through doors occasionally, in another nice touch) which I found to be a perfect accompaniment to the tactical action taking place in glorious hi-res pixelated fashion.

Yes, there’s a lot to love about Deadbolt but there are also a few hiccups along the way, for instance the difficulty is punishing. This is clearly by design but it’s aided by other issues like the AI in the game being a bit scatterbrained. Enemies can hear you from adjacent rooms and so will rush in but if they don’t see you (and initially just start shooting) they’ll wander around the area stupidly until you draw their attention, never resetting to their original spots or searching beyond the small area that the shots came from which is helpful in a way but also makes each enemy feel the same when it comes to intelligence and tactical ability. Another issue I found is that the graphics are so small and sharp that it can be easy to miss a slightly hidden enemy, the rag doll physics meant that I wasn’t sure if one small green blob was a fallen corpse or someone hiding behind a couch and it was costly to find out!

Deadbolt is a really nice take on the genre and, whilst feeling familiar, adds enough of its own twist to make it feel unique with the sense that a carefully-executed plan could fall apart at any second as you make your way through the stage and the tension as you approach a room full of enemies with just two bullets and a knife in your hands is palpable, waiting for that perfect moment to strike. If you are a fan of games like Ronin, Gunpoint and Hotline Miami, this is definitely worth a look. If, however you want a more casual experience then this probably isn’t for you, as under the skeleton visuals and stoned, psiren-esque, lulling soundtrack beats the heart of a demon with a VERY tough hide.

Deadbolt is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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