Most arcade adventures have long-winded and improbable storylines about seeking the 27 parts of some long lost key. Not so with Deathsville. You have only one aim - to escape with your life.
As the introduction says, only the dead live in Deathsville. One of the first locations you visit sets the scene nicely. Entitled Victims of the land, it depicts a guillotine with several bloody heads impaled on spikes next to it. There are over fifty screens to be explored featuring witches lairs, grave diggers, poltergeists, devils and a gas chamber. As you find your way about you will notice many items lying around waiting to be picked up. All you have to do then is find out what goes where and why.
One thing that sets Deathsville ahead of its rivals is its attention to detail. There are a lot of clues in the pictures and an observant player should be able to work out a lot of the puzzles without having to resort to the "trying every object in every location" technique. For example, when you visit the laboratory, you see a bunsen burner with some bottle next to it. When you find a similar shaped bottle, it's not too had to work out where to take it and sure enough, when you drop it on the bunsen, the contents of the bottle change colour. All you have to do now is work out what to do with the activated bottle.
Working out what to do may be quite easy in some situations, actually achieving it is a different matter. There are plenty of spirits floating around waiting to sap your energy, if you touch them. Your state of health is depicted by a boney hand creeping out of a grave towards you. If it reaches you, that's it, finito, game over, but you can postpone the evil hour by picking up tablets of Z-rations that are lying around. These send the hand back towards its grave.
Movement round the game is controlled by three keys - left, right and jump. You jump through doors as well as leaping to and from various platforms. Another key allows you to pick up and drop items. You can carry up to four items at once but there are several red herrings including an advert for a well known software company.
All in all, Deathsville is a thoroughly enjoyable game that you'll be dying to play again and again.