I got The Fall as part of Nintendo’s Humble Bundle back in late May. It was one of only three games in the bundle which I didn’t already own, but that still made for a pretty good deal. Since I’d already played most of the other games, I dove into The Fall right away, and was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
At first glance, this looks like a Metroidvania game, and while it does have some superficial qualities in common with that genre, The Fall is really a point-and-click adventure at heart. This is one of my absolute favorite genres when done well, but without a strong story to keep the player pushing forward, the entire experience can fall apart. Luckily, The Fall‘s narrative is interesting, funny, and full of surprises.
We begin in pretty familiar territory for a sci-fi video game: An astronaut’s spaceship crash lands on an ominous and mysterious planet. What makes The Fall interesting is that, since the pilot is rendered unconscious in the crash, the AI on his robotic combat spacesuit kicks in and attempts to transport the human inside of it to safety. I won’t spoil anything further, but this story lends itself to some pretty interesting exploration of artificial intelligence, paying tribute to (and subverting) Asimov’s classic Laws of Robotics.
And the puzzles! The puzzles are grand! Most modern adventure games either rely too heavily on action, or go the opposite route and almost entirely sacrifice gameplay for story (hi, Telltale!). While games like that can often be great in their own right, they tend to rob the player of those wonderful “A-HA!” moments that made the point-and-click titles of yesteryear so memorable. Although The Fall controls like a platformer and includes some light combat, it is chock full of those moments. The puzzles are woven seamlessly into the narrative, and require lateral thinking but are never illogical.
My favorite puzzle, for example, asks you to calm a crying baby. I scratched my head over this for quite a while, when all of a sudden a figurative lightbulb went on over my head and I realized that the solution had been in front of me the entire time. I simply hadn’t put two and two together yet, and when I finally did, I felt like a goddamn genius! The solution was also, in the great LucasArts tradition, really funny. Perfect!
I guess the only downside to The Fall is that it’s a super short experience. My playthrough clocked in at exactly three hours, and that’s including all the hmmmmm-ing I did. Luckily, it seems a sequel is forthcoming, so that’s something to look forward to!
If you’re looking for a short and clever adventure with a more serious vibe than Stick It to the Man, you could do much worse than The Fall. In addition to Wii U, it’s also available on Steam, PS4 and XBox One, so you have no excuse not to give it a try!