Most deathmatch-style shooters take place from a first-person perspective. Those that vary from the norm often employ an over-the-shoulder point of view. Crescent Moon Games is trying something a bit new with Deadlock, and while it takes awhile to get adjusted, there’s hours of frantic fragging in store for you.
Deadlock: Online is a freemium game– you’re free to play, and you can unlock everything there is to obtain through patience and a lot of shooting. However, you can also fork over real-world dollars for additional points to upgrade your weapons early. If you’re a casual player, this is a highly attractive proposition, as your default loadout is paltry.
Please don’t step on the dead bodies.
As the name implies, the game is dead simple. You have three modes of play (deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture and hold) that spread across five maps (mostly outdoor, but an office space changes things up). With only five maps to choose from, your playtime will be highly repetitive. You can play online or offline against bots, but the latter is clearly not as fun and is more useful for training purposes.
It’s a traditional shooter in many regards– kill as many people as you can before time runs out– but unlike most in this vein, it’s an isometric twin-stick shooter. As you peer down onto the battlefield, you’ll move around with the left virtual stick and shoot by aiming the right stick. Because ammunition is limited, you have to pay close attention to your shooting, as you can rapidly empty an entire clip and be left with nothing but your legs to save you. Precision also suffers. Unlike most twin-stick shooters, you aren’t being constantly bombarded by enemies (there’s a max of eight players per match), and each of them takes a number of hits to kill. Keeping trained on an enemy is actually pretty tough.
Pick your poison.
The isometric perspective, too, can take its toll on you. Your field of view is quite limited, and there is no way to adjust the camera. Enemy positions are indicated with arrows on the screen (enemies are red, friends are blue) that grow larger as you get closer. The maps aren’t terribly large, so you won’t be wandering alone very long, but not being able to quickly ascertain where upcoming obstacles are located is frustrating.
The better you do in combat, the more points you’ll unlock, which you can then spend on upgrades– new pistols, automatic weapons, shotguns, and the like. As previously mentioned, you start out with the basics (not even a shotgun), so you’ll need to play a lot at the onset to build up an arsenal that will keep you competitive. Armor and grenades round out the package. Respawning after death is quick and painless, keeping you in the game and refreshing your ammo. Assuming you have unlocked specific weapons, you can pick them up off the ground as you encounter them, either replenishing ammo or replacing an existing firearm.
The action is frantic, and matches go by quickly. If you have lots of free time, you’ll amass what gear you need more quickly, and for the most part, you’ll have fun doing it. With so few maps and play modes at launch– although more are planned for the future– Deadlock can grow cold. Tournaments help keep you engaged in the meantime, but we do wish there was simply more to do right now. Your love of the game will ultimately depend on how quickly you acclimate to the isometric view and the shooting mechanics. For those who persevere– and who can wait for additional content to be added– this is a game that should keep you coming back for a long time.