The Fall Review
Must not misrepresent reality. Must be obedient. Must protect active pilot. ARID’s directives are clear, the artificial intelligence having activated when the Mark-7 combat suit in which it was installed dramatically falls from orbit to crash on an unknown planet.
With the pilot inhabiting the suit unresponsive to her communication – the impact itself having carried you 50 metres below the surface – ARID’s more immediate goal is to secure medical aid. But, with the precarious surroundings that Over The Moon’s somewhat dark sci-fi tale have you placed, that’s easier said than done.
The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign that saw backers more than double the initial funding goal, The Fall innovatively blends the point-and-click adventure genre together with the familiarity of a side-scrolling platformer to create something that narrowly falls short of becoming exceptional.
With her access to the Mark-7 combat suit’s subsystems restricted and requiring an organic superior officer to permit use, your early exploration is particularly wary. Abandoned piles of damaged synthetics hint toward nearby hostility, and there’s only the glow of your helmet, bioluminescent insects to illuminate your surroundings. The only way for ARID to ease the difficulty of her mission is to purposefully place the life of the pilot in harm’s way, automatically overriding the subsystems to active camouflage and networking systems to help you.
While the alluring premise will easily hold your attention throughout, the puzzle-orientated gameplay in The Fall meets varying success. With the Right Stick, you’re encouraged to be inquisitive about your surroundings, where small magnifying glasses will designate areas or items of interest. You’ll fill your inventory with these to put them to use, using a broken robotic arm to collect an out of reach keycard, or collecting blood to lure an animal from its burrow. Players will have to scour for these, while puzzle solutions often rely too much on obscurity without providing you with any hints or enough direction.
Chased by a rogue droid referred to as the Administrator, your search for medical aid eventually sees you wander into a nearby Domesticon warranty and recycling depot. Convinced that ARID’s faulty and must be depurposed, a friendly automated system administrator rushes to avoid such fate by registering her in the system as a broken domestic droid that requires re-evaluation. With the medical facilities located at the conclusion of such tests, ARID concedes and this lends itself to the puzzles that you’ll ponder over as she looks to pass off as being the perfect house servant – errantly cheating along the way with the facility having fallen into disrepair.
With hostile droids patrolling the facility, The Fall also regularly throws you into combat situations – a built-in shield and life support your barriers for protection. These instances work remarkably well, players hiding behind cover (L Button) while waiting for the opportune moment to pop out to line up a headshot. These sections aren’t prevalent throughout the experience, which is a shame seeing as they mechanics are particularly well-implemented.
As The Fall is entirely button-based, Wii U GamePad integration can only be seen in supporting Off-TV Play which makes for a more intimate adventure. Wondrously atmospheric throughout, an eerie soundtrack perfectly accompanies the suitably dark visuals that always keep you second-guessing any movement in the shadows. ARID’s perfectly realised with commendable voice acting, while other key characters pull in equally standout performances. Although, sadly there were multiple occasions where everything stuttered which detracted somewhat – normally while loading.
The Fall amounts to another remarkable accomplishment on the indie scene, Over The Moon placing you in a unique tale where your curiosity sufficiently drives you through the experience. There’s still room for improvement, but with the promise of more episodic adventures we’re excited to see where the Canadian studio next take us.