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Deadbolt review for PS Vita, PS4, PC


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Hopoo Games
Developer: Hopoo Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

A couple of years ago, I was kind of ambivalent towards Risk of Rain when it appeared on PlayStation platforms. I saw it had some good qualities, and I understood why so many people liked it, but it didn’t do all that much for me.

I have no such mixed feelings about Deadbolt, Hopoo Games’ follow-up to Risk of Rain: I absolutely love it.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have one complaint: even though Hopoo’s port to the Vita was mostly seamless, there are places — specifically, the menus — where you can really see the game was originally built for mouse and keyboard. To get some menus to work, you need to use both the touchscreen and the buttons, which isn’t at all intuitive (and, in fact, made me think the game was broken until randomly pressing both the screen and buttons made me discover I was mistaken).

Once you figure that out, though, it’s pretty smooth sailing. Deadbolt is a 2D side-scrolling action-stealth game — which, really, is just a fancy way of saying it’s Hotline Miami, but where you see the action from the side instead of top-down. Playing as the Grim Reaper, you’re assigned missions where you have to go and kill all the bad guys inside an area. Armed with a variety of weapons, you have the option of either sneaking around and killing people carefully or going in guns blazing — but, like Hotline Miami, it’s wise if you take the sneaky approach.

Where the game differs from Hotline Miami is that the enemies here are more varied. Whereas the various thugs and goons in Hotline Miami could mostly be killed with single shots, here the bad guys tend more towards the supernatural, and some of them are stubbornly resistant to mere gunshots or stabbings. Consequently, the game arguably requires even more planning: thinking about how you want to approach a level requires observing not just how the enemies move, but how quickly. It does you no good to take out one bad guy if it means that doing so alerts some even tougher enemies in the process, especially if they’ve arrived before you have a chance to run away.

Deadbolt also deserves praise for its music. Seeing as the game is about a Grim Reaper who takes a rather hands-on approach to his work, it should come as no surprise that the game is aiming for a slightly unsettling mood, and a big part of why it’s able to do that is because of composer Chris Christodoulou’s fantastic score.

For me, the biggest sign that Deadbolt is worth checking out is that it gets really tough really quickly, but I couldn’t help but go back to it again and again. Seeing as I tend to be allergic to ultra-tough games, that should tell you a lot about its addictive properties. It should also tell you that if you’ve been in the mood for a stealth game that blends action and puzzling, Deadbolt is well worth your time.

Hopoo Games provided us with a Deadbolt PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: A-