Every single trilogy that has ever been created has seemingly started off strong, come equipped with a middle part to act as filler, before then eventually ending on a high.
The Fall was originally created with three distinct chapters in mind, with the initial game delivering one hell of a story, albeit in a short amount of time. Can the team at Over The Moon games pick up the baton that was left over and ensure the second part – that middle filler if you will – stays true to everything we loved about the first, whilst setting the scene for a thrilling finale?
Yes it does. But by golly it’s a drawn out affair.
The Fall, as a trilogy, tells the tale of A.R.I.D. – or Arid as she likes to now be known – a sentient AI who was originally trying to get a handle on saving her pilot and understanding the rules that drive her. Now though she’s broken free a little more, before becoming attacked and infected by a human ‘user’. Your task this time round? To make a new rule; to save yourself, to hunt them down, and to finish them off.
This is done by utilising the opportunities to attempt to do anything that you wish, use anyone for all they are worth, and eventually become unbound, with the whole lot all wrapped up in a story that covers personal boundaries, relationships, ethics, and ideology. And whilst Unbound takes the ‘do anything’ mantra a bit too far in my opinion – I mean, there is a serious amount of lore to cover and tons of actionable items that need clicking – thankfully it allows you to take control of three rather distinct android characters; the confused Butler, the scary One and the totally crazy, utterly hilarious, Companion. Seriously, you won’t believe what the latter gets up to.
In order to save ruining the lengthy tale that Unbound brings, I won’t go into too much detail, but each of these are, at least initially, totally unique from one another. Throughout your time with the game though, you will find yourself controlling these characters through a series of routines. This starts off a little bit overwhelming – especially with the Butler – as routine by its very nature requires order, precision and repetition. The small changes that need to be made along the way don’t exactly draw you in to the entire experience, and you’ll sit through the first couple of hours of The Fall Part 2 wondering what on earth is going on and why on earth you are doing what is asked. But should you stick with it, battling through the need to try and work out what the hell is going on, will find that it all pays huge dividends.
You see, the story behind Unbound is a massive one, but it is also a very well written and created tale that at many points urges you to keep at it – if only because you want to see what is just around the corner. You may find that it does drag on too much though, and at times there is a real struggle to keep your attention. This is no more true than after you’ve taken control of each of the three characters, and stumbled your way through a complex and unforgiving ‘network’ that combines each stage, expecting the end to be nigh, all before being asked to hop yourself and Arid back into each host for even more confusion and understanding.
Personally speaking, whilst the length of the initial part of The Fall was a bit on the short side, this second chapter takes things on to a whole new level, crossing the confusion line too many times for the entire experience to be ‘fun’. Don’t get me wrong, much of what you’ll find in Unbound is brilliant, but there is a tad too much to take in and I’m afraid this will turn many away, especially in the second half of proceedings.
Thankfully though, sitting alongside the stunning story that unfolds are brilliant visuals and delightful voiceovers. Whilst the audio side of things is pretty much limited to listening to Arid and her hosts talk things over for many an hour, the way that it has been implemented is a joy to behold. Each of the various host characters are holed up in their own little worlds, and these have been created extremely well with a great deal of detail, atmosphere, and uniqueness. Don’t expect graphical realism, for The Fall doesn’t try and do that, however what has been included is very good indeed, with only one minor glitch that required a reload having raised its head.
But The Fall Part 2: Unbound isn’t just about wandering around chatting to people and attempting to pull off the correct actions in the right sequence. For there is also combat included and depending on the character you have control of, will find some pretty damn brilliant fighting mechanics. Initially you’ll notice that the shooting of dark matter is much slicker than previous, and locking on to enemies, jumping their attacks and pulling off shots is easily done. And that’s a bit of luck too because there are times when you’ll find yourself up against multiple enemies which all need taking down. With your energy and actions linked to a power meter, it’s all too easy to find yourself hiding in the corner as you get taken down, unable to respond. But take your time, save your energy and you’ll discover the inclusion of well implemented shooting mechanics.
Also included this time around is the ability for Arid, and The One especially, to fight off oncomers – ninja style. Delivered in stages, with your attacking prowess increased as you move on, a simple press of the relevant face button will see you going hand to hand with enemies dashing at you from left and right; quick fingers will need to be utilised in order to take them all down. It takes a little while to get used to, but once you fully understand the optimum distances required for your attacks to have an effect, will discover a combat system that is even better than the shooting one. Props must go out to Over The Moon for implementing it in what should really be a puzzling platformer and I’d be happy to see them take the mechanics on another level with Part 3.
But on the whole, whilst these fighting options are nice to have, and definitely allow for a bit of a change from the repetition of going over the same old things time and time again in the hope it all clicks, much of Unbound is about the story, the ambience and how the world of Arid moves forward in an emotional way.
See, apparently this is a game that has been made for players who have been waiting for the conceptual underpinning of games to catch up with their technological artistry, and I guess that is true. But whilst The Fall Part 2: Unbound has been put together with super high production values, a stunning story and some great visuals, it is the overall length and drawn out nature of the tale that ultimately holds it back. In fact, I’d be more than happy for it to have come in at near half the length of what has been included, because even though the first part was too short, this is overly long and the inclusion of multiple avenues of exploration has brought about a little too much muddle and randomness.
But with that said, I guess that leaves Over The Moon free to ensure Part 3 turns out to be the perfect length. I’m certainly keen to see how everything ends, because as a descriptive experience, The Fall is spot on.