Black The Fall – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle, Platformer, Indie
Developer: Sand Sailor Studio
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Black The Fall – Review

Site Score
7.2
Good: Highly atmospheric game
Bad: Way more puzzle than platformer
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Imagine the Soviet Union taking over the world overnight. You are snatched from your bed while you were sleeping. Next thing you know your body is being used as a factory worker. Your mind? Not yours anymore. You are constantly being watched. George Orwell would have a great time writing another book about the position you are in. This is the world of Black: The Fall.

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Story

The story starts at the point of you being a factory worker. In an elevator full of other workers you are being dropped off at your designated floor. A hometrainer bike is waiting for your butt to be seated and your legs to start working. The game doesn’t explain anything else at this point, and it’s only as you progress that you start to find out more about your environment and the other beings in the factory. Every now and then there is a tutorial poster on the wall telling you what to do, but after a while you start being more and more alone in figuring out the right way. It’s a game of trying, failing and trying some more in a dark world where a futuristic Soviet Union monitors your every movement. Disobeying has only one result. Death.

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Graphics

At first sight, the world that surrounds you seems very polished. You, the player, wears a Russian hat with flaps over your ears. Your clothing is not too shabby. It could have been another casual Friday at a Russian office under better circumstances. A mix of dystopian colors is being used in a 2.5D Dimension (3D objects in a 2D platformer). These are the red and yellow colors of the Soviet, but also a lot of black and gray areas. Steel machinery and barren lands show themselves as you follow your path to freedom. Deadly lasers and toxic traps are waiting for you to figure out how to get past them. Overall the game has very nice environments, and even though it’s a lot of factory to be seen, no area really feels the same. Combine all this with some proper lighting that keep you on your toes and you have a great atmosphere.

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 Sound

Where in a previous testing version the developers decided to put some dubstep at every anxious moment, they fortunately decided to remove this aspect. As the game is now, right before release, the only sounds and music that you get are sounds that belong to every object and movement that happens in the scene you play. Music is purely atmospheric at this point, and it works quite well. In the future, however, a bit more eerie background tracks wouldn’t hurt the game but probably enhance it as a whole.

Gameplay

Black: The Fall is a puzzle platformer. One moment you are dodging traps and jumping across platforms, the other moment you are standing at the start of a new scene trying to figure out what to do.  This is why a puzzle platformer like this actually works. You have the urge to run through a lot of things and past enemies, but the game forces you to sometimes stop and overthink what the hell you are doing.

The main part of the platforming section is basically running from one scene to another with a few jumps over gaps in between. Sometimes it feels slightly clunky but not so much that it will disrupt the overall experience a lot. Not much added to the gameplay there. The puzzling part makes up most of the game and lets you use machinery and sometimes items to distract or defeat enemies. Also, you sometimes have the option to control other people’s actions by a transmitter their bosses use to mind control them. Once you figure out the function of each usable object or subject in a scene, it’s up to you to connect the dots and use them right to continue.

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Even though the puzzles themselves aren’t all too challenging, there is something in the exploration of the environment that makes it more interesting. Because you have to figure out, especially at the start, what reacts to your actions in what way, every scene has something new and exciting to it. If you click the wrong object or walk too fast, you might die, but that’s part of the fun.

Eventually, your goal is escaping on your path to freedom (if there is such a thing in this dystopian world). In the shorter term, it’s all about survival and adapting. What has been used against you, you will have to try and use against your enemy, which at this point is everything that tries to keep you contained. Use your wits and quick reactions to unforeseen changes (or more likely, try again knowing what will happen), and you might just push through.

Conclusion

Black: The Fall is a game to be called interesting at least. The entire atmosphere and the little information you get story wise really appeals to one’s curiosity and explorer’s heart. It actually feels like you are part of the system, stuck in something greater than you, something that has the ability to control you. It enhances the feeling of wanting to struggle forward, headstrong into the waves of traps and enemies you can outsmart. It’s quite original with its surprising elements such as the objects that are there for you to figure out what they do in the scene you find yourself in, and the environment alone should be enough to play it at least once. The game itself, however, might still change as it is to be released on July 11th, and the press release contained a note saying not all scenes were included to play so far. Still, it is a game that radiates a certain confidence to its audience and it’s something worth to check out if you like to be challenged and surprised by grim, dark locations.

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Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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