The Fall Part 2: Unbound Nintendo Switch Review
Developer: Over The Moon
Publisher: Over The Moon
Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Price as of Article: $16.99 USD, £11.99 GBP
File Size: 901MB
The Fall Part 1 The Fall Part 2 is, as you might have guessed, the second half of a story and was originally released on Steam in September last year. The Switch doesn’t have the first game, so if you missed it and want to try it, you will need to look on your phone if you have one. However, if you just want to jump right in, it does start off with a story recap to help get you caught up to speed. Arid was an AI body suit for Colonel Josephs. When their ship crash lands on an unknown planet, Arid finds that the Colonel is unresponsive and she takes control to find help and save him. Throughout the game, Arid must overcome her set perimeters in order to save the Colonel which causes her system to “deviate and fracture”. When she later discovers that she (the body suit) was empty all along, she suffers a breakdown and is about to be dismantled by a recycling unit. That is where our story begins.
The Fall Part 2 The Fall Part 2: Unbound follows the story of Arid as she fights to maintain her “life” and sense of individuality. She broke free of her pre-programmed rules in the first game, and now she must fight to protect herself from the recycling unit which deems it necessary to dispose of the defective machine. Now her body in the real world has been devastated to the point that returning would kill her, so she must explore through the digital world while trying to find the User who is behind everything. While she no longer has a physical form, she has the ability to inhabit AI robots in the real world. There are only a few instances where you will do this, but each one offers a more in-depth look at the state of the world she is inhabiting. Both which in the digital world and the real world, Arid will interact with the environment in a way not unlike Metroid Prime by observing points of interest and telling the player about them. The descriptions aren’t too in depth, but it does add to the lore of the world around you.
The story follows themes of existentialism and questions what is life itself. It encourages the player to consider the ramifications of mankind’s pursuit of knowledge and control, as well as the dangers which can exude from that. Arid is robot who has become fully self-aware and her survival instincts are fully kicked in at this point. She struggles with the reality that to preserve herself she must force her other AI brethren in the real world to overwrite their own rules which leads them down a path of self destruction.
Also, I just had to bring up that there was a fun little “I am ERROR” reference when one of the robots Arid takes over begins to malfunction. If you have ever played Zelda II on the NES, then you will know what I am talking about. When you entered the first town, you could find a house which was the home to a man who simply declared the above line. This had been known as one of the worst translation errors of all time in a video game, but it actually turns out that it was completely intentional as the character shared the same introduction in the original Japanese version of the game.
As soon as you open the game, you are met with an unsettling piano theme which implies that this will be a dark and methodical experience. The quick and low background bass beat insinuates the beating of a heart which is ironically something lacked by the main protagonist of this story. This song does a great job of setting you up for the game and fits with the quiet soundtrack employed by The Fall.
In the game itself, I was kind of surprised to find that there was very little actual music. Most of the time, it will be silent with ambient sound effects. The lack of music helps this to be a more contemplative experience which I believe was the goal of the developers. In scenes where you take control of robots in the real world, music from old masters tend to be playing. For example, when you have control of the second robot, you will be listening to a lovely rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in the first part of the stage. I quite liked this change of pace, although it would have been nice to hear something of the sort a little more regularly.
The voice acting is fairly decent and it is common all throughout the game. Every piece of dialogue is indeed voice acted. The actors speak clearly and articulately, and their voices generally suit the characters they play well.
The Fall utilizes 3D models and environments presented in a side scrolling format. The setting placed is in a futuristic but run-down factory where the Arid combat suits are created. The environments are dark and uncomfortable, but they lack detail and look somewhat flat. The visual design is intended to convey the bleak circumstances under which Arid finds herself, but nothing in this part of the game really popped out to me. While I understand the dark setting creates a sense of dread, greater uses of contrast and environmental assets in the digital world would have gone a long way to make the factory more of a fascinating place to explore.
Locals get a little more interesting when you inhabit the bodies of robots in the real world. The first location you will visit is the house of a wealthy couple whose robot butler continues to perform his daily chores even though both have died. The house isn’t exquisitely detailed, but it certainly has enough to show you visually what has occurred in the house since the time of the couple’s demise: tea cups pile up on the “master’s” desk while his wife’s face has been completely covered by make-up as she still gets her daily application. Opening a window reveals a bleak thunderstorm that continues daily, and it really suits the scenario quite well.
In the end, I wasn’t too blown away with the visuals. Most everything just felt a little flat, and it didn’t leave me with much more than that.
The Fall Part 2 runs fairly well. I didn’t encounter any slow down, although this isn’t the kind of game which would push the Switch very hard. Movement and game play is already on the slow side, so extra slowdown would have quite hindered the experience. I also didn’t find any bugs or crashes during my play through.
The Computer Mainframe
There are two primary kinds of places you will visit in this game: the real world and the computer mainframe. The majority of your time will be spend within the computer where you will explore rooms and corridors designed in a way very similar to the 2D Metroid games. You will jump on platforms to explore the horizontal and vertical areas while shooting doors to open them. You will find doors of a few different colors, and just like in Metroid you will need to unlock new abilities to open them.
Movement is relatively slow though, so it can take you quite a while just to get from point A to point B. Also, enemies are far and few between, and the don’t respawn until the story dictates they do. As a result, you are going to spend a lot of time running at a slow speed through empty while not having anything to do or enemies to encounter. This is especially true when you don’t know where to go because there is no map to look at. At least you have doors to shoot and points of interest to check?
Because the movement is somewhat slow and stiff, the Switch’s left Joy-Con face buttons work rather well to navigate the world. I actually found myself preferring them over the analog stick in this title. However, there was one problem I found. When you are trying to jump down through a semi-solid platform, it doesn’t work with the face button. You can hold the down button and jump, but Arid will just jump as normal. Unless this gets fixed in a patch, then you won’t have a choice but to use the analog stick to perform this very basic platforming maneuver.
The Real World
There are a few times where you will be required to leave the digital world by infiltrating the minds of physical robots. I found
this to be an interesting concept as it forces Arid to consider her place in the world as well as weigh the value of her own existence to those of other robots who still adhere to their programming. The game play during these sections is another matter altogether. Essentially, what it consists of at its core is slowly walking back and forth over and over again checking
every point of interest until you find the correct objects you need to interact with.
There are some interesting game play differences during these parts of the game. For example, one of the robots you take control of is a master of the martial arts. While controlling it, you will have those abilities as well. As enemies rush you, you simply press Y to attack to the left and A to attack to the right. As you do so, the robot you are controlling will utilize a range of martial art attacks which feel very satisfying when you perform this task without error.
Combat is Quick and Fluid But Too Infrequent
Arid is a gun user, and the vast majority of the combat will occur while you are inside the computer. Arid’s gun is an energy-based weapon with a meter which gets depleted with every shot you fire. After shooting, it will quickly recharge. Should that meter get completely depleted, then she will be left defenseless for a short time. Also, jumping uses energy from the same meter, so if you shoot and jump rapidly, then your energy will run out quickly. You will need to carefully manage this stat if you want to play well.
When you encounter an enemy, you can lock onto it by pressing the L button, and you can change targets by simply pressing the button again. This stays locked on quite well and allows you to focus more on your positioning as opposed to focusing on aiming.
The first kind of enemy you will encounter is a flying blob that sort of reminded me of a Metroid except that it doesn’t latch onto you. It tried to inject you with a serum that can by essentially “kill” Arid’s code by firing it as a projectile. After doing so, it glows blue at which point you can shoot it. Taking it down only requires a couple shots. Enemies are
The combat is quick and fluid. There is a targeting system in which you simply need to press the L button to auto-target the nearest enemy. It stay locked on rather well and feels very satisfying to dodge the shots while taking them down. Enemies are far and few between.
Combat isn’t very complex in this title. It mostly just consists of managing your energy while avoiding enemies’ attacks and killing them when they become vulnerable. There are times where you will have to deal with multiple enemies at one time which can be rather challenging. Don’t worry if you die, though. The game will bring you back to the room just before the encounter, so you can always jump right back into the action.
The Fall Part 2: Unbound requires about five hours to complete, but it doesn’t leave you with much reason to play it a second time. It is more about the journey with Arid in this one, and it is satisfying to watch her go through her philosophical struggles. However, the game play didn’t really leave me feeling incentivized to revisit it. This game is also available on other platforms, but the price has remained the same on the Switch. You won’t be finding a better deal on this anywhere else, and the Switch is the only one that offers you both the handheld and console experience. However, at $16.99 for a single run at 5 hours, I felt like there are still many other experiences within this genre, such as Unepic, that you can get on the Switch at a lower cost especially if you haven’t played the first game in this series. I just did not feel like the experience justifies the price.
Some Music From the Old Masters
Minimal Visual Design
Movement is Too Slow
Enemy Encounters Are Far and Few Between