Wednesday, May 16

Review: The Fall [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The point-and-click adventure really was on the ropes for a number of years, practically dead, but the indie space has really helped it come back and prove itself a viable genre in the past few years. The majority of titles in the genre use humorous dialogue and situation to try to fill in the gaps and help make game memorable between puzzles, but there have been successes with other formats as well. The Fall is very much its own animal in this regard, using some relatively high-concept sci-fi storytelling to compel you to work your way through its puzzles. How well does this work out? That will likely be a function of your patience, sadly.


In the game you’ll play as an AI named ARID in control of an enhanced suit that’s protecting a human operator named Colonel Josephs who is currently unconscious and in need of medical help. Over the course of your adventure you’ll need to use your wits, some unorthodox methods including putting the man you’re protecting at risk in order to allow you to get control of vital systems, and some determination to survive in this alien environment you find yourself in. Aside from some random creatures you’ll also clash with some security bots and a mysterious AI caretaker who seems determined to thwart your attempts to progress.


In general the game breaks down into sections with dialogue that advances the story, which can be interesting, some pretty simple cover and then counter-fire combat, and a fair amount of puzzle solving. The good news is that the first two areas, in general, are bright spots. If you’re a bit of a sci-fi fan the exploration of your own AI and a few others that are trying to cope with the situation and your attempts to do whatever it takes to save the human in your charge is interesting. The notion that the best course of action to save them is to first put them in harm’s way to allow you to get control of specific defense systems is at least an interesting one. Combat, though not generally very exciting, is at least pretty straightforward as you’ll need to either make use of cover or your cloaking ability to avoid taking damage from enemy security bots and then take them down with the gun that you’re able to acquire. Since each shot, as well as your shield, takes some time to charge you’ll need to be careful and precise but in general you should be fine.


Where the game really struggles, unfortunately, is with its often overly-convoluted puzzles. Even in a genre known for problems with regards to constructing puzzles that are intuitive and not simply an exercise in trial and error The Fall is a bit of a mess. Not only is it often unclear what you need to do with your limited resources in quite a few cases you’ll really need to either plain luck into a solution or likely look it up after randomly wandering around unable to understand what you’re expected to do next. Especially since in some cases your obstacles feel terribly arbitrary and the solutions to get around them are clumsy this really can make the experience hard to enjoy, and not just once but with some consistency throughout.


If you enjoy a decent sci-fi yarn and exploring concepts around AI, its limitations, and how systems designed to protect humans could conceivably also get in the way The Fall may be worthwhile for you. However, if that isn’t a pull and you don’t have a particularly high threshold for frustration it can be tough to recommend. With a relatively diverse set of adventures already available on the system this feels a bit more awkward than most.

Score: 6

Pros:
  • Some clever thoughts about AI are brought forward to be considered
  • The art style is clean, though certainly the environments are also often sparse
  • Combat, though not terribly exciting, is generally well-executed

Cons:
  • The puzzles are too often too convoluted for their own good
  • Intuition and smart experimentation are quickly replaced by random trial and error in many cases
  • The controls, in general, are a bit awkward