Saturday, September 1

Review: Fall of Light - Darkest Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While action RPGs haven’t been all that widely represented on the Switch to date, at least those that aren’t some sort of variant on the Zelda formula, recently there’s been a rash of releases and more are on the way. Fall of Light is commonly said to have taken the Dark Souls approach to design, and its often brutal degree of difficulty seems consistent with that goal. Just to make things a bit more complicated your character, Nyx, will also need to mind his daughter along this perilous journey, unfortunately adding to the frustration.

What the game really ends up centering around is its action, and that’s really where the problem lies. The graphical style is interesting to a degree, with a sense of style, but even with the somewhat scant detail to the environments everything feels a bit sluggish. The fact that this is true of the game’s combat, which already seemed to be on the slow-ish and plodding side, really cripples the experience, even in the early going. Nyx simply isn’t very nimble, and given how janky his attempts to attack and defend tend to be, the go-to strategy tends to be to stick to ranged weapons like the spear or crossbow (once you progress enough to get them) and if you do need to go to melee use a hit and run approach… quite literally. With your limited stamina that is consumed by doing just about anything in combat once you get your one or two attacks in your best plan is to simply run around until you get your gauge up once again to attack. With more fluidity and trust in the control mechanics maybe it would be different but since they’re cumbersome you really need to exploit what you can in the system, even if it seems kind of dopey.

The other questionable move was the inclusion of Nyx’s daughter Aether, who is certainly key to the story but whose purpose seems only to be to generally burden you further. Trying to ferry her around and keep her from harm’s way is somewhat predictably a chore, and most of the time when she managed to die since there was no penalty to waiting to bring her back to life I learned to just let her stay dead until I had to revive her since not worrying about her welfare is just a general relief. You can hold her hand to try to guide her but honestly why this was implemented I’m not sure since there seems to be no constructive purpose to it of value. She’s also a bit prone to being captured, forcing you to then go hunt down her captors to free her once more. This all made it hard to feel a positive connection to her, harming the likely goal of forming a bond with her as your character’s daughter.

As a whole my problem with Fall of Light is that there’s such an abundance of titles on the Switch of all kinds that are simply implemented better, making it tough to recommend with any enthusiasm. If you’re thirsty for a challenge there are plenty of options, and ones where you’ll feel like you have far more control over your outcome. I suppose there will be an audience based on the fact that this is meant to appeal to the Dark Souls crowd while they wait for its arrival on Switch but too often the challenge I had in the game was tied to its poor mechanics rather than by design.

Score: 5

  • A decent art style
  • You could choose to overlook the control shortcomings and embrace that added layer of challenge

  • Muddy and sluggish controls
  • Given the combat limitations it tends towards repetition and cheesing what works rather than being exciting
  • Having to tend to your daughter so often makes her feel like a burden rather than allowing for much of a bond to her