Exploration. Exploration. Exploration. The Fall is all about exploring both the world around you and indeed your inner mind, doing so via that old medium, point and click.
Now, don’t disappear straight away; there is always a place for a decent point and click adventure, especially if it runs with an intriguing and at times emotional storyline. The Fall does just that, combining the slow paced nature that clickers bring and mixing it up just a little with a few bits of platforming and a miniscule amount of shooting.
It may sound like a strange old mix of genres, but it all works fairly well; as long as you don’t expect much fast paced action.
The first in a trilogy of titles, The Fall sees you cast in the role of A.R.I.D., an artificial intelligence device activated after the suit it is encased in crashes on a mysterious world. With the human occupant seemingly unconscious inside the armoured suit, it is up to you to keep the pilot safe, all whilst searching out medical help.
The world you have landed on is filled with interest and temptation and with the help of your trusty flashlight, illuminating certain items or objects sees the story progress beautifully. With much to uncover, sort through and fully digest, you’ll find yourself backtracking over and over again, covering the same old ground multiple times as you pick up items, taking them to other spots and combining a myriad of components in order to open up more of the world. The majority of objectives are reasonably straight forward once you manage to get your head around how things work, however there are times when nothing makes sense and missing even the smallest of interactive objects will ensure that you are left running around with not a clue in the world.
In amongst the discovery, you’ll occasionally uncover hostility with both alien slugs and jobsworth droids placed in your way. It’s about then when you’ll want to switch your flashlight to a gun, firing off a number of quick shots in order to battle your way through. I say ‘battle’ but the shooting aspect of The Fall is pretty weak with just a few well placed shots needed to remove even the most hardened of droids. With a cover system that is rarely required and seemingly in place for no reason other than to freshen things up a bit, there is very little else to mention regarding the strategic side of things.
Unfortunately, managing to place those shots is a little tricky as both the flashlight and gun are seriously twitchy to use. At times, so twitchy that it annoys and when coupled with a horrible control scheme that just isn’t intuitive to use (RB really should only be used when there is nothing else left), The Fall is let down by the most basic of things. Although you would think that a dodgy control scheme would affect the bigger moments massively, strangely this doesn’t happen. This is never more apparent than when A.R.I.D. finally gets to come up against her tormentor, with an end of story fight that is possibly the most simple I have ever witnessed or partaken in.
Luckily the dark but highly atmospheric visuals, very pleasing audio and cracking storyline keep things pushing in the right direction, with the player always fascinated to see what is round the next strange corner, up the next dusty ladder or hidden away in the darkness.
Achievement hunters will also be delighted in knowing that for around five hours work, they’ll be able to settle down with a full 1000 Gamerscore without too much of an issue. It may involve a couple of playthroughs in order to hit them all, but once you’ve played through The Fall once, you’ll find yourself shooting through in no time at all on your second attempt. If you do decide to take on The Fall a second time, then it may well be worth switching on the developer commentary; it gives a great insight into how and why things happen as they do.
Standard point and click games don’t tend to lend themselves very well to the console scene but The Fall just about gets away with it thanks to the inclusion of some basic platforming. If you can look past the seriously short story – you’re looking at three hours tops for anyone with half a brain – and able to turn a blind eye to the annoyingly twitchy controls, then those looking for something a little different should be happy enough. Strangely though, the very essence of the control scheme is what makes The Fall what it is; an intriguing, complex story that unfolds beautifully, even if it does occasionally try to self-destruct.
In fact, I’m already looking forward to the next chapter in the trilogy.