The Fall PS4 Review
Publisher: Over The Moon Games Developer: Over The Moon Games Genre: Adventure
Players: 1 Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Wii U
I must admit that I didn’t know much about The Fall before I played it, but sometimes being oblivious and going into a game not knowing what to expect can be a very good thing. In the case of The Fall, it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, and it’s a game that successfully combines various genres, and also boasts an impressive story.
When it comes to its narrative, The Fall is all about a man (Colonel Josephs) inside a suit, although after the titular fall which sees Josephs land in a robot decommissioning facility on an unknown planet, he is rendered unconscious. As his injured state is detected by the suits onboard AI, ARID activates itself, and it’s then up to the AI to seek medical attention for Josephs. Saying all the latter, in no way are you controlling the man in the suit, but the suit is actually controlling and assisting him in this dire situation.
The story has a dark sense of humour and the cast is made up of various members of AI, whom ARID interacts with over the course of the narrative, and the writing is absolutely excellent, with ARID’s characterisation as well as the supporting cast creating a believable place that was once inhabited by humans, but is now controlled by machines. The sci-fi story touches on themes such as being shackled by rules as well as free will, and it’s definitely one of the things that pulled me into the game. As I was hooked early on, I felt obliged to see The Fall in its entirety, from the intriguing beginning to the fantastic ending. I had no idea if I had any free will or not in this situation, but whether I did or not, I really don’t care one iota.
As for the game itself, The Fall is a combination of side scrolling puzzle solving and action. At the start of the adventure, the functionality of the suit is limited, although it becomes more useful during the course of the game. At the start of the game, even your gun is broken and useless, and drawing your weapon is only useful for guiding your way with its torchlight as opposed to shooting anything with it at this point in the game. But guiding your way using torchlight also allows you to highlight certain things in the environment, and on-screen text informs you of any findings, of which will sometime help out in the puzzle solving and adventuring side of the game, so observance is advised. As you are also able to pick up and use items in this way, in some ways the game even feels like a good old fashioned point-and-click adventure.
For the most part, the puzzles are really quite logical, and while some are challenging, if you are meticulous in investigating the environments as well as using your head, then many of the puzzles shouldn’t hold your progression back too much. Saying that, there were two or three puzzles that came across as quite vague, particularly one which involves calming a fake crying baby. It’s puzzles like this that many would only discover the solution to if they were to experiment blindly or to check a walkthrough for the game. For the most part, puzzles are well designed though, with their complexity growing as more areas become open to you.
As ARID’s primary task is to get her pilot some medical attention, she’ll have to prove herself to be a fully functioning AI, and many of the puzzles are in relation to proving just that, even if she proves so in ways that seemingly cheat the system. It’s a clever and thought provoking premise, and there’s plenty of humour to be found, even in some of the game’s puzzle solving.
The game also has occasional action sections, although these do come across as rather clunky at times. When you do eventually have a working gun, you are able to switch from torch to laser sight in order to kill robotic foes. There’s also a decent cover system to help you avoid bullets as well as to give your armour a breather and a chance to recharge, and these sections do give you a break from the dominant puzzle solving. Like I mentioned above, the action isn’t the strongest part of the game, although it does work well enough.
At only two to three hours long and priced slightly steeply at £7.99, The Fall isn’t the longest or best value for money game in the world, but it’s a dark, moody and atmospheric game while it lasts, and also one with mostly fine puzzles as well as an excellent and well written storyline. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, playing The Fall was nothing but a pleasant surprise to me; I was completely unaware as to what to expect from it, and its mixture of strong storytelling, dark humour, puzzle solving and decent action makes the game a memorable experience across its duration. With two further episodes planned and the first sequel due for release early next year, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.