A sci-fi adventure involving giant slugs, crying babies, and hard locks.
I feel like my recent reviews are goal-oriented to make me realize that Kickstarted games aren’t evil. First, I reviewed Shovel Knight, which I gave a 10, and then I took on this game, The Fall, from Over the Moon Studios. It’s an interesting puzzle platformer with unique art direction, admirable voice acting, wedged-in gunplay, some frustrating puzzles, and some unfortunate bugs.
You control ARID, an artificial intelligence in a combat suit, whose owner is unresponsive following a nasty fall. Imagine if Master Chief suddenly went limp, and Cortana was able to control the suit around him, moving his unconscious frame like “Weekend at Bernie’s.” It sounds hokey, but it works fine. ARID needs to get her pilot some medical assistance, and the entirety of The Fall involves her quest to do so. The world is atmospheric and Limbo-like, with hints of color illuminating an otherwise dark and foreboding subterranean environment.
You can move left or right, jump, and use a flashlight to highlight areas of the environment. You can pick things up and add them to your inventory, then use those items to solve environmental puzzles much in the same way you would in a point-and-click adventure game. This inevitably leads to frustrated moments of trying every inventory item on every highlighted thing, but for the most part the puzzles are well thought out and fairly logical—even the one involving a fake crying baby that had me pulling my hair out.* ARID eventually finds a gun with a laser sight, which is used for killing droid sentries. There’s a simple cover system in play here, but the combat—which is perfectly functional—never feels necessary. You’ll walk into a room you’d previously been in and now there are robots to shoot. The game’s final action sequence is a shooting gauntlet that is not great.
Combat also has an unforeseen problem in that it causes hard-locking. In every area where there’s a lot of shooting going on, The Fall is extremely prone to crashing. This happened to me four times in a row immediately after receiving an upgrade to my gun and twice during the game’s final gauntlet. I let the developer know, so hopefully a fix is incoming. Still, hard-locking is always a cause for concern. I never encountered any sort of glitches during the rest of the game—just the heavy combat areas.
The Fall is a relatively short game, just a few hours long depending on how many puzzles stump you. The story is the most engaging thing, providing a unique take on the Three Laws of Robotics (although the laws themselves have been changed). There are really only three characters, but they’re all well developed, and when the game takes a tragic turn, I was surprised and a little saddened. Sadly, you can see the final twist coming a mile away. And this may as well be called “The Fall, Part 1,” because I did see “to be continued” as the game cut to the credits. I enjoyed The Fall despite its technical issues and I’ll be interested to see where (and how) the story goes from here.
*Ignore the slot in the baby’s crib. That’s a red herring. Once you cause a certain object to fall through the ceiling above the baby, initiate the test, then run over to the dusting test and quickly fail it. There. I just saved you about an hour of trouble.