Set in 1986, a zombie plague has decimated the world. You play as Randall Wayne, a grizzled survivor who is attempting to make his way to Seattle. The developers have stated that some inspirations they had for the story and atmosphere of the game include Stephen King's Cell, J.G. Ballard's Hello America and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
Deadlight begins in British Columbia, Canada and has the player making their way to the Pacific Northwest.
The game is played in 2D in a 3D environment, similar to games such as Shadow Complex. The main focus of the game is on platforming although combat does feature. Initially main character Randall Wayne can only flee from zombies but does come across a fireman's axe and eventually gets access to a slingshot (used to hit switches from a distance) as well as a revolver and a shotgun. Ammo for the firearms is limited and in most cases combat is best avoided as it's easy for the player to get swarmed.
The game features an interesting take on the active reload system, as each bullet is chambered into the revolver by press LB/L1 and this process can be speed up by pressing faster.
Similar to Ubisoft's I Am Alive, there will be a stamina bar when the character is climbing, though this also as an effect on melee attacks and sprinting. Unlike I Am Alive the player cannot lose stamina permanently.
The game also includes several extras that can be earned throughout the game; Hidden Secrets and Handhelds.
Hidden Secrets includes diary pages found in the game and small story element items found in the game, such as a police officer's badge or a loving couple's photograph. In addition some Hidden Secrets discovered in the game seem to refer to notorious real world serial killers including, John Wayne Gacy and others.
The handhelds collected in the game refer to fictional handheld video game systems found in the game world. Handheld game systems found in Deadlight include:
Raven Thunder's Rock Legend: "Only a man whose heart is pure can weild the Ultimate Super Play Hand Held Electronic Video Game, Raven Thunder's Rock Legend. Only a true son of Rock 'n Roll can unlock the mighty power of Raven Thunder's Rock Legend!" - Rad Records, Inc. Licensed by The Kenneth Brothers, Inc. - a Tokugawa Heavy Industries Ltd. company.
Sport Daisy: "The latest technological marvel from Japan, Sport Daisy. Sport Daisy is the most insanely fun, incredibly accurate representation of America's biggest obsession: aerobics! Keep fit and keep up with Daisy's crazy aerobic class! Put on your legwarners... and feel the burn!" - Tokugawa Ltd. Licensed by The Kenneth Brothers, Ltd. - a Tokugawa Heavy Industries Ltd. company.
Madness Mansion: "An unspeakable horror beyond our universe. Cling to your sanity! There are doors man was not meant to open... And you just entered a mansion full of them!" - Unspeakable Tales, Ltd. Distributed by The Kenneth Brothers, Inc. - a Tokugawa Heavy Industries Ltd. company.