The Fall’s story still holds up, but there’s rust in its gameplay.
The Fall begins with a literal fall. You are thrust into the story by way of an alien planet’s atmosphere and what seems to be a forlorn android repair facility. It’s a standard Metroidvania at first glance, just another side-scroller featuring a futuristic battle suit. But, this time around, you control ARID, a state-of-the-art AI in control of a space marine’s suit. While the unfortunate soldier, Colonel Joseph, is unconscious and in critical condition, ARID takes control. Your mission, it appears, is to figure out how to get the good colonel the aid he needs, while simultaneously fighting your way through an eerie factory with a great many puzzles, scares, and battles ahead.
Originally released back in 2014 to modest acclaim, this port works nicely for the Switch’s portable play. On one hand, it’s a short trip, you could tackle the whole adventure in a few short hours, but that entirely depends on how long you find yourself grappling with the game’s challenges. As far as the battle system goes, it’s fairly dated, with simple cover & fire mechanics. But, frankly, this game shines with its story and its many solid puzzles, so taking the action sequences as a fine way to mix up the pacing works fairly well. Just be prepared for the controls to feel a bit clunky at times, especially when changing direction or first adjusting to the aiming mechanic. The slight control issues seem to be due to the fact that this title was originally designed with PC in mind. Controls aside, if you’re looking for a true Metroidvania experience, you should look elsewhere. This game shares more in line with Limbo than it does with its more action-oriented cousins.
However, what The Fall may lack in stirring battle sequences, it does bring some very excellent writing (and surprisingly proficient voice acting) to the table in its stead. Descriptions and clues can be found in every area with your flashlight, and ARID has plenty to say as she progresses deeper into the increasingly perilous facility. Throughout, you come across other AIs with which to interact, and many offer dialogue options with a surprising level of humor. For a game replete with darkness and some surprising gore, it also contains a great deal of comedic writing to balance out the experience.
Ultimately, The Fall feels like you’re playing your way through a movie. Aside from a few control hiccups, it’s a playable movie in a genuinely good way.