Death has taken many forms, but not quite like this one. A natural part of life, humans have taken death and illustrated him in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it is referred to as The Grim Reaper, a masked figure that wields a mysterious reaper and strikes down those who have been destined to make their way into the afterlife. For Hoopoo Games, the makers of the wildly acclaimed Risk of Rain, Death and his duties take on an entirely new meaning.
There is a criminal enterprise disrupting the real-world and the afterlife. Zombies, vampires, and more horrors have run amok throughout the streets. Zombies run the drug ring, vampires run the brothels, and everyone, from skeletons to demons, have their own nefarious way of profiting off the living in the realm of the dead. To destroy a monster, it takes a monster, and this is what players will do in Deadbolt. The game puts players in the role of the Grim Reaper as an assassin. His target is are those that have not passed on, and he will use a variety of methods to set things right, even if it means being deadly.
In the world of Deadbolt, you are the Grim Reaper, but instead of wielding a scythe, you use a variety of conventional weapons, such as knives and guns. You are given orders by agents int he afterlife, and it is up to you to travel to the target, dispatching your assignment. Your enemies range from zombies getting high on drugs to vampires running bars. Each enemy will be significantly different from the next, requiring different tactics to take down. Zombies will be blindly aggressive, Vampires will shoot from the ceilings, and skeletons will blow themselves up. Along the way, players are encouraged to search for evidence and clues as to the whereabouts of their next target, as well as utilize the environment to better take down their enemies.
Deadbolt plays similarly to Hotline Miami and Not A Hero, in which players will need to infiltrate an area and eliminate enemies by any methods possible. Players are free to either go in with brute force or use methodical stealth. The Grim Reaper isn’t invincible, and he cannot hold a lot of ammunition. However, he can turn into a shadow, and move amongst a level through the ventilation ducts, constantly disappearing and reappearing to get the drop on his enemies.
Players can also use the physical parts of an environment, such as lights and door, to not only dispatch enemies but send distractions and provide cover. The Grim Reaper is vulnerable, so knowing your environment and using cover is quintessential. It’s a familiar but unique gameplay setup that players who have played through difficult side-scrollers will become accustomed to.
The gameplay in Deadbolt is quite challenging, but also very rewarding, players will die repeatedly attempting to conquer a level, but each new attempt is a new tactic to try, with new weapons entrances. Becoming a shadow and moving about the environment, only to silent eliminate a foe is immensely rewarding. Deadbolt‘s thick pixelated style yield plenty of satisfyingly gory moments, as enemies are perforated, stabbed, and sliced in the thick of frantic combat. In a game that primarily takes place in darkness, the lighting and shadows are incredibly effective.
The presentation, especially the audio, is immensely sharp. Every sound effect in an environment, from a door to a gunshot to the sound of an enemy being clubbed to death can be used both to your advantage and disadvantage. One mission had me infiltrating a dance club, with the sound of thumping dance music masking gunshots, which was important as I dispatched priority targets in a room filled with both vampires and succubi. The sound design is accompanied by a soundtrack by Chris Christodoulou, which featured a deep, bass, with drums and percussion.
Additionally, Deadbolt contains a plethora of missions, across various stages. The arrangement of enemies, along with the sophistication of each level, will keep players in a state of experimentation. Each attempt is another chance in working with new tactics and plays, keeping the players invested in accomplishing each level. For completionists, there are great challenges, such as completing the game with no deaths. It’s a difficult endeavor, sure to please those eager for an achievement worth bragging about. If there is any demerit to the game, it’s that it can be a bit too hard, especially for players seeking a different gameplay experience. However, if they are willing to learn and stay persistent, Deadbolt becomes an incredible experience.
Deadbolt is a refreshing and engaging game, that turns the familiar notions of death and reinvents it into something completely different. The gameplay is frantic but incredibly immersive, and the game’s dark presentation is sharp and filled with style. It’s a game that players will keep coming back to repeatedly, and trying something new each time. It’s a dirty job being the Grim Reaper, but like the garbage man that takes your trash in the morning, its a job that has to be done with punctuality and impunity. Deadbolt is a lively experience.