After releasing on PC last year, the isometric action-RPG Fall of Light has now made its way over to consoles, but this time in the form of the fancier ‘Darkest Edition’ that brings with it an additional dungeon to battle through.
The game itself actually sounds like a neat idea: it blends together the combat and grim aesthetic of Dark Souls with the escorting nature of Ico. Those are actually two of my favourite video games right there, so naturally it appealed to me from the get-go. It’s a shame then that the game has ended up feeling like a bit of a mess, with the sluggish combat (which isn’t helped by a severe case of input lag), the blurry visuals, and a stuttering framerate being the worst offenders throughout.
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition puts you in the well-worn shoes of Nyx, a fearsome knight who’s tasked with both battling an onslaught of enemies from the darkness and leading his daughter to safety across a variety of deadly locales. It’s your typical run of the mill battle of ‘good versus evil’, though most of it simply boils down to beating up a bunch of enemies until you reach your goal.
It’s here that Fall of Light: Darkest Edition tries to take a Dark Souls-like approach by making each encounter feel methodical and having the player focus on patience as much as strength. Unfortunately though, it just ends up feeling slow and clunky, with each attack Nyx makes feeling more sluggish than anything else. There’s a surprising amount of different attacking styles in the game and a decent variety of weapons to use that each have different pros and cons, yet none of them never ever made me feel like I was in full control of my actions or that I had the advantage in battle.
It left me baffled for a while because it’s not as if the combat was necessarily poorly designed, but then it clicked: there’s a severe case of input lag where your actions don’t always correspond perfectly to your button presses. You can be as patient as you want with your actions in-game and even pick the perfect opening to attack, but there’s no guarantee that your attacks or movements will recognise in time – naturally, this led to plenty of counterattacks from enemies and a lot of incredibly frustrating moments.
It’s something that the developers will want to fix pronto. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’d suddenly make Fall of Light: Darkest Edition’s combat amazing because there’s no denying that it feels a little sluggish anyway, but it’d go a long way in improving the experience and making it a bit more fun for gamers.
Whilst the game’s combat might try to replicate that found in Dark Souls, one of the game’s core mechanics is more like that in Ico with Nyx having to escort his daughter Aether across the game’s deadly environments. She’ll follow basic commands such as following and waiting, whilst Nyx is also able to hold her hand and lead her through each level. Having her nearby actually gives you a few stat boosts here and there too, so it’s definitely worth keeping her as close as possible.
Escort missions can be hit-and-miss in video games, but I think Fall of Light: Darkest Edition managed to make it feel more enjoyable than frustrating. The level design itself complimented leading someone else along with you, whilst she also never became a burden – sure, enemies would try and kidnap Aether, but that never meant ‘game over’ but rather that you just had to go and rescue her. There was just something charming about leading her along and it added a little something to the adventure, even if the game never goes into too much detail regarding it from a narrative perspective.
In a similar design to the bonfires of the Dark Souls series, if you die in the game you return to a Shrine where you’re able to recover your health and level up. However, you’re not then given the opportunity to find your corpse in order to recover any lost ‘souls’ of sorts, but instead make your way to the point of your demise in order to find Aether. It’s something that could’ve been neat if implemented in a meaningful way, but instead it simply felt like a menial task that did nothing to benefit gameplay – it was just a bit pointless, and it would’ve made more sense to just have Aether return to the shrine with you.
Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that whilst you can level up at these shrines, the only thing that improves is your health. You can’t fine-tune your stats to shape Nyx into a particular build that benefits your playstyle, so don’t expect a deep or intricate levelling up system.
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition’s visual style is quite attractive with it adopting this low poly-like look that actually works well within the game’s desolate world, though unfortunately it’s clear that the Nintendo Switch edition of the game has taken a bit of a hit. I played a lot of the game on the Switch’s portable mode and found the visuals incredibly blurry throughout, whilst the constantly dipping frame rate made battles feel even more underwhelming and actually highlights some of the game’s poor animations.
It’s a real shame because the visuals could be one of Fall of Light: Darkest Edition’s best features. There are some genuinely interesting locales to see and I actually enjoyed exploring the world – it’s just a little hard to be wowed by it when it’s clear you’re playing the most inferior version of the game, though.
I was looking forward to giving Fall of Light: Darkest Edition a try, but unfortunately it turns out it’s an uninspired release that’s littered with both technical issues and unsatisfying gameplay elements throughout. It’s clear that it’s trying hard to be like both Ico and Dark Souls (which are considered by many to be masterpieces), but it fails throughout and ends up feeling like a bit of a chore to play.
Whilst it has a lot of flaws though, there’s something about Fall of Light: Darkest Edition’s design that I could appreciate – maybe it’s because I’m a fan of Ico and didn’t mind looking after Aether, or maybe it’s the grim setting that has the occasional neat sight. However, there’s simply no denying that it’s a bit of a technical mess on the Nintendo Switch and it’s even hard to recommend Fall of Light: Darkest Edition to die-hard fans of the games that inspired it.
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC