The Fall is a kickstarted Indie game with a unique twist. It blends action and puzzle elements into a 2D platformer crossed with point & click elements. Such a thing has rarely been seen before, and hardly ever on a console platform. But does the jump from PC make it a worthwhile addition to the Wii U library?
The Fall has a very intriguing back story. You are presented with the situation whereby you have crash-landed on a planet and suffered terrible damage. As a result your suit goes into survival mode and while you are unconscious in the suit, the suit takes over all actions. This need for survival and protection ability of the suit called ARID is a great idea in terms of how the story plays out and one which I have personally never experienced before.
The AI-controlled suit must do everything to save the pilot of the suit but at the same time is restricted by its programming and rules-based abilities. In order to counter these limitations ARID must push its limits to the boundaries. Going against its basic rules result in an override and thereafter further progression, but at what point does the robot become its own entity you’d have to ask?
Through breaking these rules and limitations you discover new abilities. When you first land you are armed just with a torch. With your torch the puzzle and point&click elements come to the fore. By moving through the 2D levels you can shine your torch on various things and get some explanation or detail around what is lying around. By finding the right tools you can blend items together to progress through the level.
So for example at the start you find a robotic arm and some blood which you combine to lure out an animal that stole something that you need. Lure it out and then make the arm malfunction and you get the animal to drop the item. Yes, this puzzle is very simple but they do get a lot more challenging and at times can have you scratching your head for a number of minutes before you figure out where to go or what to do.
As you progress you can unlock other abilities such as a weapon ability. Here your torch is swapped out for a gun with laser sight which can be used to defeat any kind of threat. There are AI robots along the levels which view you as a threat to their systems and have a need to recalibrate you. Protecting your pilot and yourself become a key aspect amongst the puzzles.
The combat is not all that frequent though and quite frankly you can be grateful for that. The combat feels clunky at best and at times feels like it was a last minute add-on. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t great either. You have your laser sight gun and you can hide behind boxes and other things. It then becomes a cover based 2D game but the enemies provide easy opportunities to take them out with a simple headshot when needed.
Thankfully the action sections are few and far between, and while they break away from the challenging puzzles and thought provoking sections they are nowhere near as challenging or interesting. Discovering ways to get further into the level, to find a medical station and to unravel the story of what is going on is as intriguing as it is puzzling. One complaint is definitely the lack of hints and clear progression through certain puzzles, but at the same time that adds to the reward of solving the puzzle when you find the correct elements to blend together.
The presentation of The Fall is a mixed batch. The sound effects throughout are well polished but the voice acting and narration is robotic and boring. It’s almost better when you just skip through the voice overs and read what’s in front of you. The visuals are a tad bit dull with the same colour palette from start to end. It doesn’t look bad or outdated, it just gets a bit tired before long and you feel like you are in the same space from start to end.
Thankfully the story keeps you going and the puzzles keep you wanting to get further and further. The only annoyance is that the game doesn’t ‘technically’ end. I was surprised at this not knowing much about the game previously, but it seems as though the sequel and eventual trilogy has been given the go ahead so that makes a bit of sense in terms of absolute closure.
The Fall is not an overly long game, and is meant as a first episode of the story. There is more than enough to keep you going and enjoying, and probably to get you wanting to buy the eventual sequel. It’s not a must play game by any means, but it does offer something quite different in the sci-fi genre and a game that is unlikely to disappoint.