Title: The Fall
Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Over The Moon
Publisher: Over The Moon
Genre: Side-Scroller Action Adventure
Official Site: The Fall
Release Date: May 30, 2014 (PC); July 14, 2015 (Xbox, PS)
Where To Buy: Steam, Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store
With the rise of interest in artificial intelligence and cybernetics, more indies are tapping into the potential moral ramifications that could occur with this new technology. Previously, I reviewed The Red Strings Club and the way it visualizes society and business relations with AI and cybernetics. The game reviewed here takes a more personal approach and asks what would happen if you played as the AI.
The Fall is a side-scrolling action adventure game from Over The Moon studios and asks the question, “What would happen if you played the Titan in Titanfall and had to find assistance for your pilot?”. The game begins with your pilot careening through the sky towards a mysterious planet before crashing and falling into a facility below. While the pilot is non-responsive, you play as the pilot’s cybernetic suit AI, ARID, who must navigate this strange abandoned facility and seek medical attention for the pilot.
As you are activated, you discover very quickly that most of your functionality is offline and can only be activated in emergency situations. As you explore the cavern, you stumble upon a mysterious AI known as the Caretaker who questions your functionality and purpose and deems you unfit for service. Once you break out of this, it becomes even more apparent how dangerous the circumstances are for you and your pilot. ARID advances through the facility until she comes across an intercom terminal and the facility AI called the Administrator who begins to assist her in her goal of obtaining medical attention.
The story commences in a series of challenges and fight sequences where ARID is forced to see what automated life is first hand and forces her to encounter the negative circumstances most AI are forced to go through daily. She also has continual conversations with the Administrator about her purpose and functionality and what moral codes she is willing to risk in order to fulfill her purpose. The game ends with ARID forced to make difficult moral choices, using the player to show her advancing views on self-aware morality and choice, a strange twist ending that definitely leaves the player confused, and the possibility for a sequel in the future.
The gameplay of The Fall centers around ARID exploring her environment and interacting with different objects, notes, and computers in order to continue advancing through this facility. By using her onboard intelligence, she is able to network connect to different objects and obtain additional access to various areas. She also just uses different objects in combination with one another to tackle the various obstacles that form in front of her, most of the time in ways that were not intended by the Caretaker. This causes him to continually drop by and question ARID’s morality and put more barriers between her and the medical center.
One of the best parts of The Fall is the dystopian sci-fi environment you are dropped into. While it starts as a trash pile and a maintenance center, it quickly changes into the wreckage of an abandoned science and engineering facility still filled with plenty of robots. The coolest section of the game comes in a test facility where ARID must fulfill household and civil duties that are expected of domestic AI. It’s here that you see cardboard facsimiles of normal people who command you to do menial tasks for them in their worn down houses and streets filled with strange fungi and worm creatures.
Unfortunately, The Fall has some slight downsides that keep it from being excellent. One of the hardest parts of having a game centered around AI is that there is a lack of emotional attachment to the characters since all the of the personalities feels static. While the story is cool and interesting, there is a definitely lack of investment in ARID when she is designed to be more computer than person. Also, the game has some technical flaws that are regularly noticeable.
As far as the adventure side of the game goes, everything is interesting and compelling, if not rather challenging. But the shooter half of the game feels forced and unwieldy. Each shooting section felt out of place within the rest of the game, and mechanically far too rigid and stiff. Also, the game has moments where feeling lost is an understatement. Certain areas require you to wander around and trial-and-error your way through, which tends to pull you out of the experience and make it harder to keep pushing through.
Verdict: While there are some definite drawbacks to the game, The Fall has a really compelling story about artificial intelligence and the morality of choices. The setting created is a mix of alien and technology, and definitely gives the impression of feeling disconnected from society. The flaws are noticeable, but the story still stands well despite this. It’s worth giving a shot if you like sci-fi stories.
- Compelling and interesting story
- Twist ending that leaves players wondering
- Create uses of choice
- Boring fighting sections
- Visual glitches
- No attachment to characters