The Fall Part 2: Unbound Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Apple Mac, PC, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and Linux
An odd predicament facing the Switch as it enters the second year of its life cycle is that as developers are starting to realise what a little dream machine it is to port everything on to, we’re starting to see one of two things. Either Switch versions of games that are already 3 to 4 years old or Switch versions of sequels to said games that for obvious reasons, never came out on the Switch. The Fall 2: Unbound isn’t the first sequel I’ve played on the Switch - Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 holds that honour – but that game got around this by including the story missions from the first game as free DLC and porting a default character in place of your create-a-character avatar from the first game, as a way to artificially create that connection to the previous instalment, should you have never played it. As such I was curious to know how The Fall 2 would hold up having not played the original from 4 years earlier. I had considered watching a play through of the first game online but ultimately decided that seeing as this was an current and ongoing issue the Switch, I would dive in cold.
The game comes with a short recap of The Fall which honestly gave very little away and left me wanting to play it – good job to developers Over The Moon on that front. The story though is as follows. An advanced combat suit falls to an unknown planet and the artificial intelligence A.R.I.D. kicks in attempting to save her unconscious pilot whilst navigating around her built in limitations. Managing to subvert her programming and adapt enough to reach a medical station, A.R.I.D. is faced with the realisation that she’s been empty this whole time with no pilot in her suit. This causes her to question her programming, her purpose, the nature of free, before falling into an existential crisis long enough to be dragged away for diagnostic and decommission.
That’s where The Fall Part 2: Unbound starts. We find A.R.I.D. literally inside her own virtual headspace, repelling an attempt to override and shut down her A.I. conscious before she sets off on a journey through cyber space to track down the mysterious “User” who was invading her body. In between the cyber space platforming sections, A.R.I.D. finds that the signal to hack into her brain is being routed through several old hubs and robots to cover the source. This leads her to download herself into the forms of these other robots and make them serve her purpose, all within the boundaries of their own pre-programmed logic.
The game sees jaunts into a catty robot butler, who insists on carrying out his duties despite his masters clearly being dead, a combat drone hung up on his individuality and a – ahem – companion bot, designed to do whatever it takes to make people happy. And the game goes on like this, exploring this fallen world where the people are all gone but the machines linger on. Gameplay wise, The Fall 2 plays like something between Abe's Odyssey and Broken Sword. Puzzle solving platforming with an air of a point and click adventure. Oh and the cyber space sections mostly play out like a Mega Man game. Lots of jumping and shooting. It's a good mix that kept me throughly entertained throughout, essentially taking the basic elements of 3 great games and putting them into one, following a pretty decent science fiction story of an A.I. fighting for its right to exist.
The world of The Fall 2 and its levels are beautifully designed but if the game has one major flaw, it that's it just so dark and I'm not referring to tone here. The game encourages you to turn down the brightness to achieve the intended atmosphere but I found myself not being able to see. And when, like in many a point and click adventure, you're searching for just the right item onscreen to interact with, that didn't much help. Also, come on guys, I want to see the levels you've made. For the most part they look great and and you should hide them in darkness. But for a complaint, it's so minor it barely warranted those last few sentences.
One genuine nit pick though. During a combat sequence, the game explicitly told me to press the wrong buttons to fend off my attackers. It took me 4 or 5 attempts to realise where the game itself had gone wrong and another few tries to check I wasn't going mad. I was eventually able to intuit which buttons I actually needed to be pressing but this seems to be an oversight with the port as the buttons they told me to use corresponded with the controls you'd be using on an Xbox One controller not the Switch. Nothing game breaking but definitely something that should have been picked up before people got to play this game. Don't worry though Over the Moon, I'm not marking you down for this, even if you did nearly make me through my Switch across the room.
In all though, The Fall 2: Unbound is a decent sci-fi story wrapped in a intriguing indie title that plays out all at once as creepy intense techno mystery and fun filled cyber punk action. It even convinced me to go back and play the original, that's how much I enjoyed it.