Someone once described The Farms 51's first unique IP NecroVisioN as "the best worst game", a sentiment I can agree with. That's because for all its shortcomings and silliness, it was still a lot of fun to play. So, when I found out that The Farm 51 had developed Deadfall Adventures, I was hopeful of another enjoyable experience with perhaps a little more finesse thrown in. After all, they are the studio that tackled the remake of Painkiller, one of my favorite games. Alas, even though Deadfall Adventures is a fun enough game, it's not really a significant step forward in originality. It would appear that this developer is better at mimicking existing ideas than in creating new ones.
The story takes place in 1938 and is similar to an Indiana Jones romp including a race against the nazis for an ancient relic. You play as James Lee Quartermain, an archaeological treasure hunter hired to escort a US expedition to find an ancient artifact called the Heart of Atlantis. James Quartermain is the great-grandson of Allan Quartermain, who was the main protagonist of the 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines and its sequels. James is in possession of his great-grandfather's notebook, which enables him to solve puzzles and avoid traps as the party wends its way through various locations such as Egypt, the Arctic, and Mayan ruins. He is accompanied by Jennifer Goodwin, a US agent and former colleague. In addition to supernatural enemies, the Germans and Russians are also hunting for this relic.
Like NecroVisioN, Deadfall Adventures suffers from some balance problems. The first third of the game is too easy, and although the scenery is great, you can wander about in it with nothing to find. Enemy engagement is spaced too far apart and there is not a great amount of treasure hunting either.
The environments and locations are interesting and the visuals are great. The game was in fact lauded for this. However, the character rendition is sub-par for a game of this era and the voice acting leaves much to be desired. Quartermain, who I'm guessing was meant to look like he's swaggering in a manly fashion, instead often looks like he's swaggering from the bottle instead. The enemy AI, although not particularly smart, are dead-eye shots, even while you seem to be in cover. I'm also not fond of the lack of health and stamina meters, since these are quite important to the welfare of your character. I kinda like to know when I'm about to quit moving or about to die. Your health situation is indicated by big bloody red splotches on screen, but there is zero indication regarding your stamina level. There is no sprint mode either, which makes later engagements harder than they ought to be. The mummy's reach is deceiving and causes great damage from further away than perceived. There are also a few cheap traps that cause insta-death including touching any body of water.
The female AI companion, Jen, is as dumb as they get and is often a nag to boot yammering at you non-stop about getting going when your trying to solve treasure puzzles. As an aid, she's mostly useless and enemies often act like they can't see her. About all she is good for is giving you the occasional hint about puzzles, but even then does not elaborate. She also likes to disappear at times, but will show up when the coast is clear. I don't think she can die.
There are several varieties of weapons, which are 1938 variations on the automatic rifle, shotgun, and hand guns, which you can duel wield. And then there is the flashlight with a focus mechanic that renders mummies vulnerable to bullets. Alan Wake anyone? Treasures are categorized into three types, health & stamina, weapon upgrades and flashlight upgrades. These progressively cost more treasure for each level and are very basic in what they do. For instance, add more health, more battery life on the flashlight, and firing or reload rates for weapons.
Deadfall Adventures gameplay features does not throw the kitchen sink at you like NecroVisioN did and pretty much sticks to what you would expect within the theme. So no portals, demons, or aliens etc. The puzzles may seem tricky in places, but there are very few actions you can actually take and that helps to narrow down the possibilities.
Some mechanical instructions are given only through the onscreen tutorials. For eg: in the beginning, the control for opening the compass to locate treasure is not listed in the menu options and is a screen prompt the first time you get near to a treasure. So this is hard-coded. This caused me to miss a few in the first act as I had no idea that I even had a treasure-finding compass. This meant I had to replay this section as you can't go back to previous levels. Some QTEs require you to press space, which is the default jump button. However, if you remap jump, it still shows as space, which then doesn't work and leaves you scratching your head as to what button to push for the QTE. As to actually jumping, it's only required at a certain few places where you suddenly become a long distance jumper. Otherwise, you can't jump on or over anything. It's also fairly limited in how high or how far, which is tied into a couple of reach treasure areas.
Regardless, the overall theme is attractive in the vein of an adventure story that has you exploring ancient sites around the globe. Adding treasure hunting mechanics and puzzles to the mix offers variety and lifts it from a straight out shooter. There are definitely things that could have stood improvement, but the game is not totally awful. It's just time-worn with a lack of originality and a bit behind the curve in other areas. It's possible that a small budget might account for this. They really only had one unique IP under their belt at this point and to be fair, this is a game that gets better as you go along. The first third was disappointing, but then it improved and I enjoyed it well enough. It's not going to win any awards as the best of anything, but it is a decent enough filler game and of good length. Just don't expect anything innovative or particularly original and grab it when it's on sale.
Their next development was Deadfall Adventures, a game inspired by adventure characters such as Indiana Jones and Allan Quartermain from the 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines. It released in Nov of 2013 on PC to mediocre reviews and later on console to negative reviews, although currently, it rates on Steam as mixed to mostly positive. Users generally like the adventurer theme, the inclusion of puzzles and the atmospheric visuals, but mostly agree on the bad voice acting, average gunplay, and some bad checkpoint saving placements.
The Farm 51 is set to release the game Get Even in the spring of 2017. The publisher is Bandai Namco (Dark Souls) who is cited as saying that Get Even will be one of the publisher's key titles this year. The studio is also working on a multiplayer free-to-play shooter called World War 3. In addition, they are also highly involved in the VR market with their Reality 51 technology.