Backlogged: The Fall

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Time to Finish: 3.5 hours

I’ve had The Fall recommended to me many times over the years. It’s the kind of sci-fi story I like with philosophical questions, a lot of atmosphere, and robots. Who doesn’t like a good story about robots?

I picked this up a week or two ago when the Indie MegaBooth sale was going on. For the low price of $2 I got a short little game with a solid story. It’s a point and click adventure game with some light combat elements.

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Things I Liked:

Story: The game follows A.R.I.D an AI onboard a military-grade combat suit. After falling from who knows where and landing on an unknown planet, Arid wakes up with the sole purpose of protecting its pilot. We later find out that Arid has crashed on a domestic robot manufacturing facility and anything deemed faulty is disassembled. To get to the medical bay Arid must pass eight tests designed for domestic AI as a military AI.

Arid: It’s a cool idea to have the player be an AI controlling a suite with an unconscious human inside. As an AI, Arid has a set of directives it must follow: Must not misrepresent reality, must be obedient, must protect the active pilot. Arid does all of these things but in a “creative” way. There are a lot of systems locked behind “organic operator approval” but these can be unlocked if Arid finds a way to make them necessary to protect the pilot. Things like getting shot at by a turret to unlock the camouflage system. Technically needed because the pilot’s life was at risk but it’s also a contradiction to put the pilot at risk to protect the pilot. This game is full of interesting decisions made by Arid to achieve its objective.

The Domestic AI Tests: These tasks take up the middle of the game. In order to leave the facility, Arid has to be marked as a domestic AI and in order to do that, it must pass eight tests. Things like cleaning, getting a baby to stop crying, walking an old woman across the street. Except Arid is a military AI so it goes about solving these problems in a “unique” way. I don’t want to give anything away here but if there is one reason to play this game it’s the creative ways Arid gets through these tests.

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Things That Could Have Been Better:

The Controls: First and foremost this is a point and click adventure game. There are a lot of items to interact with and places to put them. But you can only see these when your pistol and flashlight are out. Eventually, you get a laser sight for your pistol to make it easier to aim. You lose the ability to see the interaction points when the laser site is out so I found myself constantly switching between modes which I found slightly frustrating. Also, while interacting with objects you have to select the X in the middle to get out of the interaction menu. But if you forget that and hit the escape button instead it doesn’t do anything. Which is fine, until you leave the interaction menu the correct way and the main menu opens…this was really the most irksome thing about the controls for me.

Combat:  It’s playable, it does its job, but it’s not great. You can take cover and fire your weapon. It all seems a bit clunky but luckily you don’t have to engage in combat often. I wouldn’t let the combat dissuade anyone from playing the game.

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Other Things of Note:

This is part of a trilogy. This game came out in 2014, its sequel The Fall Part 2: Unbound came out in 2018. The third game is not out yet and I couldn’t find any information on its development.

With that said, this feels like a complete game. It has an ending that feels final and feels like it could continue at the same time. Some episodic games have a tendency to leave cliff hangers to get you on board for the next one. I would rather have a complete story with room for more. The Fall does this very well. I could never play the other game and feel like I got the whole story.

The puzzles could be challenging at times but I got through them without looking at a guide!

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