There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights, KINGDOM HEA— oh, wrong game…
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Release Date: 30th August 2018
Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £11.99 GBP
Game code provided by Digerati for review
The story in Fall of Light, tells of a war waged between the forces of light and darkness. Many lives were lost, but then a goddess of light named Luce came forth and helped the forces of light win the war. 13 ages of peace past, until a wicked sorcerer, named Pain, came out of hiding and changed everything. In secret, he had been practicing the dark arts, until the day arrived, where he was powerful enough to declare war on the goddess Luce herself. To the horror of all, he defeated and killed her, throwing her into everlasting darkness, thus casting the world into an age of darkness yet again.
You are Nyx, who along with your daughter Aether, must traverse this darkened world, in pursuit of the last glimmer of light.
Along the way, you meet both friend and foe. Corrupted knights and fiends, but also people who will guide you on your quest.
All dialogue in the game, including the opening narration, are fully voiced I should add. Not the best I have ever heard, but you get a feeling that they tried.
Developed by RuneHeads, and published by Digerati, Fall of Light: Darkest Edition is an action-RPG. You leave home with your daughter, horribly unprepared I might add, as you have neither sword nor shield, so until you get those, combat is best avoided. You quickly find an old woman, the one who narrated the opening by the way, who tells you of your objective, and hands you a lantern to light up dark places. Originally I thought that was what your daughter was for, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
See your daughter is a so-called Indigo Child, a person who constantly radiates a faint light, and I was curious to see, how that was gonna play into the gameplay, but as the hours went by, it dawned on me, that the game is basically just an escort mission. You are told early on, that you and she are ”stronger together” and you even have a button dedicated for holding hands, which by the way renders you defenseless, but nothing ever came of it.
I thought it would have been cool if the darkness was slowly corrupting you, and being near your girl would revert that process, or if there were places corrupted by so much darkness, that you could not enter without her… but no. The only thing she is really useful for is saving at holy springs because you need her to pray in order to do that.
Something that threw me off, was that every time you die, apart from the game reminding you of how many times you have fallen, a heartbeat is shown, and sometimes it is accompanied by a disembodied voice, like a doctor talking to you at a hospital. Add to that, that apart from the holy springs that are used for saving, you sometimes come across other springs that Nyx can activate on his own by meditating, temporarily warping him to a wireframe modern day office, where he finds his daughter in a wheelchair. Thousands of questions arose when I saw this, as not only did this vision clash heavily with the rest of the game’s medieval setting, but the opening narration gave no indication that a modern day subplot was going on?
Anyway, if you are killed, the game explains that she is killed shortly after you, and you then have to go all the way back to where you last fell, in order to ”resurrect her from her ashes” as the game calls it. So until she is with you again, you better hope you can do without saving, which is also how you ”level up” when you have accumulated enough souls from fallen enemies. In other words, she is nothing but a burden. Funny thing though, and the only redeeming factor you could say, is that there is no penalty for you if she is killed before you. You can just take your time with the enemy, and resurrect her afterward, no harm, no foul.
In fact, there is no benefit AT ALL to hold her hand in the first place, as running around with her like that for an extended period will make her exhausted, letting her run after you, however, she can run forever without tiring. Pointless!
The story, as far as I can tell, does revolve around you collecting fragments of light for her, but as for gameplay, she is just there, acting as your access card for saving. Keep in mind also, that saving resurrects ALL enemies.
Adding insult to injury, she also tends to get herself kidnapped. This doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes, black demon-like creatures will spawn out of portals, and failing to kill these quickly, will result in your daughter being taken away. This is but a minor inconvenience, however, as it forces you off the beaten path to track down a bird cage where she will be waiting for you to come to rescue her. Not sure where the nearest cage is located? Fret not, just push the Y button, that is normally for holding her hand, leaving her behind or calling her to you, and a blue light will show you the way.
As for yourself, you are a knight who can wield all sorts of different weapons and shields that you find, and like in Dark Souls and other games that do it after, you have a stamina meter, that drains every time you either block a projectile or swing your sword. It refills rather quickly though, so don’t worry about that. Also, you are limited to wearing 4 objects, with double-handed weapons taking up two slots. So, for example, you can wield two sets of sword and shield, or a sword and shield plus a spear. You then switch between these two sets with the left arrow.
You lift your shield with L by the way, do a light attack on R and a heavy attack on ZR. While B is you roll/dodge button, and A is for interactions.
The enemy AI is relentless, and the programming very shotty. While the game isn’t a buggy mess, it feels overall very unpolished. Enemies can walk through some locked gates, and once they spot you, they will chase you to the end of the world. While you can argue it doesn’t make sense why an enemy would hit an invisible wall where they suddenly lose any interest in pursuing you, I also hate the opposite, where you are hunted by dozens of soldiers whose sole purpose in life is to hunt you down no matter how far you go. And what insults me even more, is how they just walk all the way back to their original positions like robots, once they have struck you down. What’s even weirder, is that some enemies can smell you from a mile away, while you can stand right in front of others, who won’t move. Add to this, that once you do confront an enemy, they will sometimes stop up right in front of you and start attacking, but standing a few millimeters too far away to actually hit you, heck sometimes their attacks just straight up won’t hit you, even though you can clearly see that they hit you.
Maybe I am not cut out for these kinds of games where you lose everything since your last save point if you die, but once I had obtained the spear, that let me kill most things from a comfortable distance in only about three hits, and the crossbow that let me cheese most enemies from a distance, I never looked back. Hey if the game wants to be cheap, I am gonna be cheap back!
Speaking about losing everything. Early on, you get an amulet that allows you to get experience from slain enemies, only thing is, there is absolutely nothing that indicates how much you have collected, or how much is needed for your next upgrade. I say upgrade, but all ”leveling up” really does, is extending your life bar with one unit. If it does anything to your strength, I ain’t feeling it.
You also come across doors along your way. Astounding, I know. Some will be ripe for you to just open, while others are locked and require you to reach for a switch, which can be hidden. That’s it though when it comes to puzzle solving. Other than that, the only thing that hinders your progress, is the onslaught of enemies that block your path and sometimes figuring out where to next.
I will give credit where credit is due though, and one thing I immediately applauded the game for as early as the title screen, was the ambience. The sound of thunder and rain, quickly set the mood and tone for what kind of game I was in for. Dark and omminous. The game doesn’t feature any music to speak of, but rather leaves you with the atmospheric sound effects of your surroundings, and I think it works.
In a town you arrive at, you even hear moans of agony in the distance, which did spook me for a second.
The visuals are a mixed bag on the other hand. While the environments have a soft polygonal charm to them, 3D models like enemies and other smaller objects look very cheap and rough. While it is far from a constant problem, the game stutters too sometimes, both in docked and handheld mode. Whether this is exclusively on Switch (I doubt it) or a consistent optimization problem on console in general, I can’t say for sure.
Overall though, I mostly liked the visual design of the game and thought it did a good job at setting the mood and tone. You also come across a variety of different settings, that keep the visuals from getting stale.
The game can get a bit graphic too. While everything is seen from a birds perspective, with no way of changing the camera position, so that you never get too much into the gory details, you do occasionally stumble on some pretty grim scenery, like the aforementioned town, where you see forests of corpses on pikes. Yikes!
Originally a PC game, Fall of Light: Darkest Edition, is a console re-release, that comes with a new exclusive dungeon with all new enemies and weapons. I haven’t played the original, so I can’t say how that one played, but it seems to me, if any polish has been done to this re-release, it has been minimal.
For $14.99 you can do a lot worse though, as there does seem to be a lot of decent content here, over a rather long story campaign, but I would still very much wait for a sale, before picking this one up. I won’t tell you to avoid it, as I do, for all of my criticisms, think that the game has qualities and potential, but do approach with caution.
Nice visuals with good variety
Frustrating at times
Rough around the edges