Capsule Review: The Fall

A cinematic platformer with a great dark story, weak combat, and uneven puzzle design.

A darkly atmospheric game structured and presented like a cinematic platformer and which does have some platforming and combat but is mostly made up of inventory puzzles reminiscent of point-and-click adventures.

The game’s highlight is its narrative. There’s an intriguing story with darkly compelling themes told through solid writing, characterization, voice acting, and art supported by environmental storytelling and occasionally the game’s mechanics. Everything comes together effectively to create a dark, moody atmosphere with a rich implied world.

The mechanical side doesn’t fare quite as well. Combat is unwieldy and out of place, but not very difficult as long as you know to go for headshots. Controlling as a platformer does make the experience more immersive than a point-and-click approach, but since most interaction is menu-driven, collecting and using objects requires too many steps with awkward controls.

The puzzle design is very uneven. A few puzzles feed beautifully into the storytelling and characterization, but several are obtuse to the point of being unfair. I played with a walkthrough at the ready, consulted it several times, and was always glad I’d done so because the solution was absurd and I had clearly just saved myself time stumbling in the dark trying to find it. Resorting quickly to the walkthrough was clearly correct and enhanced my enjoyment of the game.

This game is also the first chapter of a planned trilogy. While the story does end with some closure for its immediate concerns, it leaves many significant questions wide open and most of the game’s pressing mysteries unresolved. As of this writing Part 2 is available but not Part 3 (and this comment doesn’t exactly make me optimistic).

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game. Reviews are split as to whether Part 2’s story lives up to Part 1’s, but they seem to all agree that the gameplay is worse with all the issues of the first game pushed even farther instead of being improved after the creators learned from people playing the first game. It’s not clear to me how much of an issue this would be if I again played with a walkthrough at the ready, or how much the disagreement on the quality of the story is affected by people just being more frustrated with the gameplay. So I’m on the fence about whether I want to play Part 2.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

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