By Henry Badilla / May 22nd, 2018
|Developer||Over The Moon|
|Publisher||Over The Moon|
|Release Date||May 10th, 2018|
There are two things that are usually hard for me when I’m writing either a story, article or review. First is the introduction. I’m using this as an example as I didn’t know how to introduce this game. The other is the title. For stories it’s easier once you finish it up; choose something that reminds the reader of the main point in the story and go from there. In the case of The Fall, it’s basically the first thing that you see on the screen: a man, falling in space and crashing against the earth. Simple, easy to follow and it makes you say “So, that’s the fall. Now what?”
The Fall is a 2D adventure game in which you control A.R.I.D, an AI that’s part of a combat suit. Since the suit detects that its pilot’s life is in danger, A.R.I.D takes control and must look for a medical base to heal her pilot before it’s too late. However, things are not that simple. A.R.I.D doesn’t know where she is, she has no way to defend herself and some strange robot is following her around. This is all packed into an interesting dystopian world with some very thought-provoking conversations about artificial intelligence, humanity and free will.
On the game side of things, this is a 2D adventure game. While you can jump and run and there’s some combat involved, the main focus is in the puzzles, finding items and using them in the right place, similar to games like Thimbleweed Park, The Cave or Day of the Tentacle. You have a gun with a flashlight that you can point by pressing the ZL button and the right analog stick. On points of interest you can press the action button and a small menu will pop up with different interaction options, including using the items you have collected. For combat you can just press the ZR button to shoot while aiming the same way. Since enemies will shoot back, you can take cover by pressing the L button near an obstacle, or simply turn invisible with the same button if there’s nothing to take cover behind.
I liked the balance between the combat, loneliness and exploration. Metroid is clearly one of the inspirations of the game and the world does give you that same eerie feeling while exploring. There’s just a few battles but these are quite quick and easy, and work more to give a sense of danger than to actually provide a challenge. But if you die, the game is very generous with checkpoints so you won’t have to redo anything besides the battles.
The puzzles are a bit confusing at first, but it’s more about understanding the rules of the game to get through them. And once you do, it becomes easier. My first time through the game took me around five hours to complete it, with a second that took me around three hours to listen the developer’s commentary.
Where the game really shines is in the dialogue and story. During the story we’ll run into two other AIs that will question whether A.R.I.D is really concerned for the well-being of her pilot, or if maybe she’s just using it as an excuse to go against her programming. Following the rules is one of the most important themes discussed during the game, and while it is presented in a similar light as Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics, it’s written so well that it provokes further discussion and a second playthrough to analyze everything with a different set of eyes.
Visually the game looks really nice. The graphics may not be the best on Switch, or any console in that regard, but the general style works really well showing us a future world that hasn’t been doing so great with the use of dark areas, bluish backgrounds and a desolate world. The sound department is also really good. While there’s no music, the ambient effects are really good, and the voice acting is spectacular. There are only three main characters but each one is really unique and considering that A.R.I.D is an AI, she portrays quite a good range of emotions.
In the end, while the puzzles are fun, and combat is simple, what really sells The Fall is the story, even if you’re not a huge fan of adventure games. I feel that this one captures a good balance between combat and puzzles so it never feels tedious and can work as a good introductory game to the genre. This review is based on the Switch version which doesn’t add anything new to be honest. If anything you lose the achievements available on other versions. But if you want portability it’s a good option over the PC, PS4 or Xbox versions. The game is out for $10 and as mentioned above, give it a try even if adventure games aren’t your thing, the story is worth it.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
2D platformerAdventure GamesOver The MoonOver the Moon GamesThe FallThe Fall 2: Unbound