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The Fall Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . After a compelling start, The Fall quickly runs out of steam and eventually gets bogged down in mundane housework. While the mix of Metroid-style open world action and old school graphic adventure games is a lot of fun, this debut release from Over the Moon comes up short. A killer presentation and twisted story may be enough to keep you playing The Fall. Rating: 64%
The Fall
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
There is an inherent danger in overhyping entertainment. After everybody fills your head with inflated expectations, the only realistic result is disappointment. No game can live up to the hyperbolic claims coming from friends and critics. That's what happened to The Fall, the clever science fiction-themed action/puzzle game from Over the Moon. After its initial release on PC and Wii U, I watched my colleagues rave about the indie; even going as far as to call it one of the year's best. But the hype was too good to be true, and this brand new PlayStation 4 port set me up for a mighty fall.

True to its name, this game starts with a man tumbling from the sky. Something has gone wrong and the crash landing has likely injured Josephs, the man behind that the suit. But not all is lost. As it turns out, Josephs' suit is equipped with an on-board computer that can take control and move the wounded man to safety.

You control the A.R.I.D., the artificial intelligence tasked with finding medical attention for Josephs. Unfortunately, they've landed on a hostile planet filled with robots, and it looks like the doctor is out. The good news is that A.R.I.D. has full control over the suits arms, legs and body, so all it needs to do is find a working gun and the exit.

At its core, The Fall is a cross between Metroid-style open world action games and the graphic adventures so common to the PC in the 1980s and 90s. The trusty suit walks around a connected world scouring for items to pick up that can be used to solve puzzles. A.R.I.D. will find tools to fix up old cars, pans to catch blood and a rotting human head that can feed a whole family. No, really, play the game and you'll see what I mean.

These graphic adventure elements do a good job of separating The Fall from The Swapper, a similarly themed science fiction puzzler. The tasks all feel like they are connected to the world and largely make sense to the storyline, which is not always the case in this style of game. More importantly, the puzzle solutions actually make sense, and it never devolves into dumb graphic adventure logic.

The Fall (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, it's this style of puzzle that ultimately brings the game to a grinding halt. After an incredible opening full of action and intrigue, The Fall quickly begins to run out of steam. After learning the ropes, the story eventually traps you in a large testing chamber where you're asked to clean house, prepare a meal, tend to the baby and other mundane tasks. The concept is good, but you end up spending half the game in this one area. The Fall has a hard time regaining the momentum after this pit stop.

It was during this testing chamber when I started questioning some of the game's other mechanics. I noticed that The Fall has a bad habit of introducing new ideas and then immediately dropping them. For example, the opening makes a big deal out of camouflaging the suit to solve puzzles. But unless you decide to sneak up on guards, this mechanic is never used again. And this isn't the only time the game seemingly forgets what it tells you. It's a disappointing mix of puzzles never feel fully baked.

When you're not picking up items to complete tasks, The Fall will have you fighting off an army of robot attackers. The combat is never especially thrilling and often feels like it's there to pad out the three hour running time. The problem is that it never changes. Oh sure, you're given an upgrade halfway through the adventure, but all that does is let the A.R.I.D. shoot faster. These battles are a diversion at best and frustrating nuisance at worst.

The Fall (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It doesn't help that the game is often difficult to control. Switching between actions and items requires not only pointing the right analog stick towards the object, but holding a button and cycling with the D-pad. You can also switch between your flashlight and gun, which I found myself doing all the time by accident. This is especially bad when locked in one of those dumb robot shootouts. Even after I mastered the control's quirks, I was left scratching my head wondering why it was mapped like this in the first place.

To the game's credit, I was captivated by the science fiction story and the atmospheric look. It hides a lot in the shadows, and I was in love with the style from the opening scene. The electronic soundtrack beats in the background as if to remind you that Josephs only has a few more minutes to live. The characters are big and I found much of the alien world to be intoxicating. I was a little let down by the cliffhanger ending, but at least the conclusion was satisfying.

As much as I love the world they've created, I can't help but feel disappointed by Over the Moon's debut game. It's visually arresting and the graphic adventure elements are unique, but it never fully reaches its full potential. It discards gameplay mechanics and doesn't go far enough to expand on the graphic adventure elements. After expecting greatness, I was let down to find out that The Fall is merely pretty good.
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