Indie horror Deadlight announced for XBLA Developer boasts Diablo III, Heavy Rain veterans

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That actually looks really good judging from the trailer. Kinda reminds me of Limbo, but different art direction. I have a feeling this will be apart of summer of arcade.

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Joystiq with some new info.

1986 marked a legendary era in humanity's astronomical focus. Russia launched the Mir space station, Halley's Comet lit up Earth's February skies, the Antarctic ozone hole came under intense scrutiny, and America's Challenger space shuttle exploded in a fiery cloud 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven of the astronauts on board in clear view of their family, friends and the world.

1986 is also the era that Tequila Works' chose for its upcoming horror-puzzle platformer (coming to XBLA this summer), Deadlight. The two aspects could be completely unrelated, of course, if Tequila Works CEO and creative director Raul Rubio hadn't gone out of his way to mention the astronomical significance of the year to Deadlight's larger, seemingly robust story in an interview with Joystiq.

"The choice of the time frame was not random at all," Rubio said. "If you think about it, 1986 was the year that had a lot of lunar events. And if you put that with movies like First Blood or Day of the Dead, it's a strange mix and you can get a unique visual."

Rambo: First Blood and Day of the Dead both came out in the '80s, one as a hyperbolic action film and the other a zombie cult classic, and Deadlight draws on both of these tropes in a unique way, Rubio told us.

Deadlight begins in 1986 in British Columbia, Canada, where a tragic disease has infected every person in the Pacific Northwest, transforming neighbors, friends, siblings, parents and children into homicidal automatons called "shadows" – every person except one. Randall Wayne is alone, outnumbered and ill-equipped, but he is determined to survive.

Unlike many other infection-based action titles, Deadlight doesn't revolve around, well, revolvers -- it's a physics-puzzle platformer first and an action title second, with Randall laying traps for his enemies in a style more similar to Portal than to Left 4 Dead. Players will have access to some weapons as the game progresses, but they are less effective than the traps and a "very bad choice," Rubio warns.

"It is a direct approach to fear and paranoia," Rubio said. "The player must always use their brains to solve the puzzles and control the action and physics."

Tequila Works is most proud of Deadlight's story, Rubio said, which is written by award-winning dramatist Antonio Rojano and inspired by Stephen King's Cell, J.G. Ballard's Hello America andThe Road by Cormac McCarthy. If you haven't read any of these books, we'd summarize the overall tone with the following phrase: depressing nightmare fuel.

"You don't seek the truth or save the world," Rubio said. "Deadlight is about Randall's feelings and his desires, his problems. Everything that we take for granted now, like crossing the street, in Deadlight is a true challenge."

Tequila Works' obsession with the 1980s (synonym: depression) isn't solely interplanetary or machete-based -- it's part of the team itself.

"We are all children of the 80s," Rubio said, referencing the 22 people, full-time and freelance, building Deadlight at Tequila Works, some of whom have AAA backgrounds working at Blizzard, Weta Digital, Pyro Studios, Sony and Mercury Steam, the last of which Rubio co-founded. With a smaller studio, the team is able to infuse everyone's voice and create something they truly care for, Rubio said.

"It is important to recreate a new alternate world of paranoia and chaos," Rubio said. "In this survivor craze, we are moving in a very different direction with very strange ways of solving catastrophic events."

The developers at Tequila Works are passionate aboutDeadlight, Rubio said, and as a small studio they are able to make the game a part of themselves, infusing it with a hand-crafted, full-quality feel, "no matter if it is downloadable or retail." Tequila Work's dedication is already on display in the one teaser of Deadlight released so far, a cinematic of Randall perched on a freeway sign, describing how it feels to kill someone, before jumping to the roof of the adjacent building, which looks to be just too far away for an ordinary man to land.

The graphic style in the teaser is a pre-alpha build and is not representative of the final product, Rubio said. "The game, right now, is looking better."

Deadlight is scheduled for a summer launch exclusively on XBLA, and Rubio says his team is thrilled for the coming release, yet anxious that it live up to the unexpected hype.

"We want to say 'thank you' because the reception has been bigger than we expected, because we are a small studio and this is our first project," Rubio said. "There's a lot to do, even more now that Deadlight has so many expectations."


VideoGamer with some new info.

Tequila Works' creative director on the freedom provided by Microsoft and bigger plans for the IP.

One of the more intriguing announcements of the new year is Microsoft Studios' Deadlight from independent developer Tequila Works. The trailer should have been enough to pique your interest, and now we've got more information on the game, its influences and where the new IP could head in the future direct from creative director Raúl Rubio.

Q: How long have you been working on Deadlight?

Raúl Rubio: The original idea was drawn by our Art Director, César Sampedro, in 2009. It was a speed painting showing a backlit silhouette of a sole figure and some menacing shadows appearing from both sides of the picture. We achieved a proper game concept for Deadlight around November 2009. Since then we founded Tequila Works assembling a bunch of insanely talented veterans, signed with Microsoft Studios and we even had time to make t-shirts and change to a bigger office.

Q: You describe Deadlight as a AAA title; in what ways does the game meet the expectations of the AAA game?

RR: Best quality no matter the size. Assets and productions are top quality; instead of AAA, we prefer to describe Deadlight as a "handcrafted" game.

Q: Will the AAA game come with a AAA price?

RR: (Laughs) Ask Microsoft Studios, not us! Don’t worry, you can expect an XBLA price.

Q: How many hours gameplay do you expect gamers to get from Deadlight?

RR: Deadlight is a narrative driven experience, its story goes back to the character. Randall’s inner journey will give an average of 6 hours for the main adventure experience.

Q: Can you tell us anything about Deadlight's main character Randall Wayne?

RR: Randall Wayne was born the 19th of May, 1952 in Hope, BC. He barely left his hometown in his life, except for a couple of visits to Vancouver. He hated cities and only found peace in the isolation of nature.

Randall married very young and had a daughter called Lydia. Before the Massive Mess, Wayne was an ordinary man with no great aspirations, but also without a heavy load on his shoulders. He became a park warden and spent long stays in the mountains, which improve his character.

Thanks to his long his job in the woods, Wayne acquired basic knowledge on weapons handling, survival skills and climbing.

Randall has a passion for crime fiction and espionage novel and has an interest in animal biology. He is introverted and slightly paranoid.

Q: What has inspired Deadlight?

RR: An overdose of 1984, Heavy Metal and Cimoc magazines during our childhood that enhanced our dystopian instincts. Authors such as Richard Corben, J.G. Ballard (Hello America), Richard Matheson (I Am Legend), Stephen King (Cell), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Cormac McCarthy (The Road) have heavily influenced us. Movies like First Blood. And last but not least, the classic cinematic platformers Prince of Persia, Another World and Flashback.

Q: Can you see Deadlight becoming more than a digital game in the future?

RR: Absolutely. Deadlight was been conceived as a whole universe, a multiformat IP if you prefer. We have written lots of stories within the Deadlight universe, not only Randall’s odyssey. Diverging timelines, biology… there’s a lot of research behind the world of Deadlight!

Q: What are the biggest benefits of being a Microsoft Studios game?

RR: Freedom! They give us a lot of freedom to create the way we feel. They really understand our philosophy and bet on original proposals. They take care of the headaches allowing us to concentrate on creating.




If you had any lingering doubts about whether Cormac McCarthy really is this year's zombies, then let Deadlight solemnly persuade you that it's The Road rather than Romero that's currently foremost in gaming's collective consciousness. You'll see the novel's influence in Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, and you'll have seen it in Ubisoft Shanghai's surprisingly coherent view of a post-apocalyptic world, I Am Alive.

And you'll see it again this summer in Deadlight, one of the brightest propositions in store for Xbox Live Arcade, and quite possibly the sparkling gem in this year's Summer of Arcade. It helps that in many ways, Deadlight brings to mind two previous summer beaus on the 360's download service, Limbo and Shadow Compex, with its side-scrolling 2D gameplay that's told with a strong artistic bent.

Deadlight's set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop that's riddled with the walking dead. It's a scenario whose weary familiarity is countered with often breathtaking art design, its lighting veering towards monochrome while its ambiance lays on a thick, melancholic horror. (Spanish developer Tequila Works comprises many ex-MercurySteam staff, and the quality of both Jericho and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow seems to have carried across with them.)

It all kicks off in a Seattle that's been bearing the brunt of a viral outbreak, before embarking on a tour of a destroyed mid-80s Northern America. It's an America made up of beaten-down warehouses washed in thick yellow light, of crumbling alleyways and rickety rooftops.

What's truly impressive is how Tequila Works has brought this oppressive locale to life, managing to inject an incredible amount of depth into a game that's played on a strictly 2D plane. Vistas stretch far into the distance, while the camera will occasionally pan to draw attention to another story that's unfurling in the backdrop; a group of survivors making free in a stolen ambulance, or a flock of birds that shoot up from an abandoned traffic jam. This is a 2D platformer with a keen sense of cinema.

It's a borrowed cinema, but it's been borrowed well and furnished with some other, more surprising influences. Lead Randall Wayne is a park warden with a mysterious past and more than a passing resemblance to Viggo Mortensen, but with his lithe leaps his real ancestors are Flashback's Conrad B. Hart and Another World's Lester Chaykin.

Deadlight takes the platforming and puzzling of those '90s classics, but more importantly it also shares their sense of isolation. Randall's utterly alone, picking through the flotsam of the catastrophe that's struck the earth and often finding himself ill-equipped to deal with the undead swarm that's in his path.

Combat doesn't seem to be the norm in Deadlight, and aside from one satisfying encounter told through the business end of an axe it's often best to simply flee when faced with the enemy. To that end there's some wonderful staging on Tequila Works' behalf, escapes being timed perfectly so that the rotting fingernails of your assailant will be scraping at your coattail just as you break free.


The environment's a threat as well as an ally, though. In one abandoned car park, a small pool of water can be charged with electricity, allowing you to beckon the undead and lead them towards their own demise. Elsewhere, in the bowels of a dusty garage, a car can be sent crashing down on the crowd of zombies that waits below.

It's simple stuff, but at each turn Tequila Works pulls you further into its world, and in the stumbling and heaving of Randall's animation it reminds you of your vulnerability. Deadlight's a zombie game, but in its nature it's more of a Frankenstein, cobbled together from classics old and not so old. It's been cobbled together with a real sense of craft, too, and it's Tequila Works' impressive artistry that makes this more than just another post-apocalyptic romp.