Developer: Over the Moon Games
Publisher: Over the Moon Games
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
I was a big fan of The Fall when it released back in 2015, with its great puzzle and world design certainly ticking all of the boxes for me as far as sci-fi adventures are concerned. Naturally then, the shock cliff hanger ending had me eagerly anticipating the incoming sequel in what is planned to be a trilogy. After what has been a fairly long wait, I’ve finally had the chance to continue ARID’s perilous adventure in The Fall Part 2: Unbound…
The Fall Part 2: Unbound continues the story from its predecessor, with the A.I. ARID finding herself detached from her body and in a strange global network. After establishing a manic new protocol to follow (saving herself) and finding herself under attack from a mysterious figure known as The User, ARID has to take control of three very different robots – the Butler, One, and the Companion – as she looks to track the enigmatic villain down.
If you were a fan of the last game, you’ll be a fan of what The Fall Part 2: Unbound offers. It continues with the theme of A.I.s being bound to a specific set of rules and following protocol, but this time elaborates more on them breaking free from it and finding their own purpose. It makes for an intriguing narrative, and one that sets up the finale of the trilogy perfectly.
One thing that’s worth pointing out is the quality of the character development in the game, with your robotic ‘team-mates’ proving to be the stars of the show. Each has their own unique perspective on the world and it’s cleverly shown in how they react to everything they encounter in-game. My personal favourite character has to be One – his self-obsessed attitude actually makes for some really comical moments that genuinely saw me chuckling out loud. Whoever you’re playing as though, you’re guaranteed to find a lot of personality in their outlook on the world around them.
For the most part, The Fall Part 2: Unbound puts you back into the robotic shoes of ARID – she’ll also be entering the consciousness of the three other robots though, so you’ll find yourself equipped with a wide variety of skills (and mind-sets) throughout. The main mechanics still revolve exploring environments, solving some tricky enigmas, and taking down any enemies that try to stop you though.
The game blends together action with platforming sections, though at its core it feels a lot like a point-and-click adventure. You’ll be pointing your gun at specific points in the environment in order to interact with them, whilst interactions with NPC characters can also make a big difference when solving a puzzle. Oh, and there’ll also be occasions where you’ll desperately try interacting with everything you see in the environment as means of solving a puzzle, which is a common trope of a good ol’ fashioned point-and-click adventure.
The combat mechanics of the game see ARID shooting at enemies either by directly aiming at them or locking on with a quick button press. The previous game utilised a lot of cover use, but this time around you’re in more open environments and have to jump around a variety of platforms to try and avoid enemy attacks. It’s enjoyable enough and works well in-game, though a focus on simply following enemy attack patterns alongside a lack of enemy variety left it all feeling a bit too easy. I don’t think I died once during combat, nor did I ever face a situation where a showdown felt intense. Combat acts as a decent means to break up the constant puzzling, but it never feels particularly exciting.
It’s in the puzzling that you’ll find the meat and bones of The Fall Part 2: Unbound though, and fortunately it’s an area in which it excels.
The puzzles of the game are typically drawn out affairs (in a good way!) where almost no item in the environment goes unused; you’ve always got to be aware of what’s available around you and work out when exactly you need to utilise it. This is perfectly evidenced in the first puzzle sequence with the Butler – you follow his daily routine of looking after his ‘master’, but have to find a way to distract him and break it off. There are plenty of different things around you to help you with this, but you’ve got to interact with them in a very specific order to string together what is an ingenious (but rather dark) distraction.
The same goes for the other characters you take control of though, with them all coming up against a good variety of enigmas that’ll keep you challenged in a variety of ways. How will you stop the Collective from copying One’s routine? How will the Companion make her way into the guarded Ops area? And how will you make them all adapt to a new mind-set in order for ARID to achieve her goal? It’s all up to the player to solve these cleverly structured puzzles, but at least you’ll have a good time doing so.
Whilst the puzzling elements are typically clever and well-designed, there were a couple of instances in the later sections of the game that felt a bit too obscure. The one thing I appreciated about the first game was that the solution was always right in front of you if you really thought about it, and whilst that’s mostly the case here, there were a few moments where I had to simply resort to interacting with everything in the environment until I found a solution. Typically, I’d blame this on my lacking puzzle-solving skills, but I genuinely think that this time around it was down to a lack of direction from the game. Fortunately, it’s not a common occurrence, but it could still cause a bit of frustration during the game’s latter sections.
On a visual basis, The Fall Part 2: Unbound looks pretty good, with a clever mixture of art styles and environments used depending on who you’re playing as in the game – the sections with the Butler utilise a more noir greyscale palette for example, whilst the Companion’s sections feature more colour and neon lights that work with her happier mood.
It’s all complimented by some fantastic lighting effects and environmental design. One of my favourite aspects of the previous game was how each locale felt darkly unique and brought to life by the clever placement of lighting, and fortunately The Fall Part 2: Unbound continues that trend. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll see a lot of familiar sights as far as sci-fi titles are concerned, but the game does feature an interesting world that’s great to explore.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for all of the character models. The robot designs were great and unique, but the humans lacked personality and just looked like fairly generic character models. It’s a little disappointing, especially given the creativity on show in the other facets of the game’s design.
There were a few graphical glitches too, though nothing too severe. Typically, it’d just be a case of seeing ARID locked in a frame after jumping and trying to move quick, or perhaps not being able to move the angle of her gun after jumping. They’re little bugs and hardly game-breaking, but I came across them on more than a few occasions.
The Fall Part 2: Unbound blends together some clever new mechanics with the brilliant puzzling of its predecessor, which in turn makes for an enjoyable adventure that fans of the last game will easily find themselves fully absorbed into.
It does stutter a little on the way with its fairly basic combat mechanics and some overly obscure puzzles though. The first game’s use of cover-based shooting was a lot more satisfying than just following enemy patterns and jumping, whilst there’s no denying that it could be a bit frustrating finding yourself simply resorting to interacting with everything in the environment as a means of progression – even for point-and-click veterans.
The otherwise great puzzles and fantastic world design outweigh these flaws though, and I’d easily recommend The Fall Part 2: Unbound to fans of the first game or just those who enjoy a good sci-fi puzzler. It’s a worthy sequel and one that’s certainly got me excited to see what happens in the finale in of the trilogy.