Review: The Fall (PS4)
Let’s get this out of the way straight away: The Fall is very good. Over The Moon has created a very atmospheric experience on Steam and WiiU – and now it makes its way on to Sony’s PS4.
Due to be the first in a trilogy of episodes, The Fall literally starts you off with a fall. From space.
You play the part of ARID, the AI on board the combat suit that fell from the stars. With your primary objective to save the unconscious pilot inside the suit, ARID is tasked with finding any form of medical facilities on this unknown planet. This involves a lot of exploration and puzzle solving, with a dash of combat to round off the experience – all wrapped up in a side-scrolling, platforming gameplay style.
Right from the start, The Fall is pretty to look at. It has gorgeous lighting effects and the art design is stunning, bringing the world to life wonderfully. The sound is equally well done, from the believably stiff dialogue of the AI characters, to the intense ambient effects that really come to life with a good pair of headphones.
The story builds nicely as you explore the world, with ARID having to overcome the obstacles of her programming in order to protect her pilot. Pressing the Options button at certain moments will bring up ARID’s internal menu (which looks like a computer menu straight out of Alien), in which you will be tasked with manually enabling various features of the combat suit, in order to keep ARID and her pilot alive. This offers a real sense of immersion, especially when certain dialogue options give the option to lie – only you cannot choose the lie option due to ARID’s programming. Many games wouldn’t even give you this option, but the fact that The Fall does is a great way of reinforcing that you are playing as an AI, with a set of rules governing everything she does.
Following the rules is a theme that runs throughout The Fall, but it also leads to the game’s biggest flaw: the filler section in the middle.
In this section, you are tasked with getting merit points in order for the mainframe computer to classify ARID as fit for use, which means she can continue on her mission. This is where the bulk of the puzzles are, and some of them are ridiculously obtuse. It brings to mind the old ‘point and click’ method, as you try using all your items on everything in sight, just in case you missed something.
The game overcompensates for its dragging midpoint by offering a fairly action-packed final third, which is fine in theory but messy in practice.
The combat works well in short bursts, using cover (or one of ARID’s unlockable abilities) and taking pot shots at your mechanical enemies, but when the game throws several enemies at you in quick succession, it quickly becomes apparent that gunplay is not the strongest point of The Fall. The difficulty ramps up a bit too quickly and you may find yourself dying in a game that rarely puts the player in any real danger.
The Fall offers little in the way of replayability, too. There aren’t really any collectibles and the trophies aren’t particularly inspired, but the £7.99 price point (with an additional 10% launch discount for Playstation Plus members, at the time of writing) and the 2-3 hour length means that you do get value for money in a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
With an intelligent and well told story, and an ending that is closed enough for players not wanting to move on, but leaves enough questions for those wanting the next chapter, The Fall is well worth your time.
You might even fall for it.