One of the most important features of legendary sc-fi writer Isaac Asimov’s writing is the way he crafted a set of seemingly impossible to break rules and then found ways to work around them. It is what has made some of his more memorable works stand the test of time. When playing The Fall, you’ll likely be reminded of that iconic writing. The Fall may be one of the best works of video game sci-fi written around an AI that has ever been crafted.
The Fall opens with a military pilot falling from space into a robotic recycling facility. The pilot is injured critically and his space suits military on-board AI, A.R.I.D. takes over. She has to weave her way through the abandoned facility, all the while avoiding the facility’s insane Caretaker who is determined to destroy ARID for being, in his words, “faulty.”
Throughout the game, we discover that ARID has a set of rules that she needs to obey. However, as you descend further into the facility, she slowly begins to work her way around those rules. It all culminates with a single new ability being given to ARID and that moment is chilling, to say the least.
Listening to the way that she works her way around the rules is absolutely incredible. Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics are obviously a big inspiration here and like Asimov, Over the Moon Games has found incredibly ways to work around those rules. It is fairly incredible to watch this A.I. grow from being a subservient killing machine to being its own independent creature.
Much of the actual gameplay revolves around solving environmental puzzles to progress deeper into the facility. Like many other point and click adventures, you go around combining objects with other objects to progress. However, these puzzles often have a very strange logic to them. A major portion of the game is spent in a part of the facility trying to show that A.R.I.D. could be re-purposed for house work. At one point, you’ll need to serve a cardboard cutout family dinner but with the facility being abandoned for years, there is no food to be found. The solution is actually fairly dark and yet, it’s also hilarious.
Many of the games puzzles have this dark tone to them. This becomes even more apparent when ARID begins working around her programming. That said, the solutions can be somewhat convoluted at times. You’ll scratch your head for a long time and may eventually have to consult a guide, simply because the puzzles are just too convoluted. That’s not a terrible thing, but the game does have its own puzzle game learning curve that can be difficult for some.
There is also various sections of the game where you’ll need to fight off waves of security robots. These sections are significantly worse than their puzzle counterparts. Combat is either far too easy, pitting you against a single robot, or far too hard when the game throws waves of enemies at you, barely giving you any time to recharge your shields or health. These areas are few and far between, which is a blessing.
From a writing standpoint, much of the dialogue is reminiscent of Portal, albeit with a slightly more serious tone. The voice acting is fairly well done, as well, leading to some fantastic scenes between ARID and the Caretaker. That said, some of the notes you find lying around the facility are written with some fairly cheesy dialogue. Visually, the game is somewhat reminiscent of The Swapper, albeit with environments looking less like clay models and more like 3D renderings. It serves the atmosphere well, especially when you begin to see some of the more horrifying things that the Caretaker did in his time.
There are, however, some fairly large glitches that are still present. Many users have complained of issues with the game not loading. There are also issues where you may perform the action to trigger an event and yet that event will not occur, leaving you wondering if you performed the correct action or if there’s more of a puzzle to solve.
However, these complaints are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things for the game. The Fall is probably one of the smartest games on Steam right now. While there are some issues with the gameplay, the atmosphere and storytelling are top-notch and make for an absolutely fascinating title. The Fall ends on a major cliffhanger and one can only hope that Over the Moon Games gets the chance to follow-up on this title.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A code for The Fall was provided to Pixel Related for review.