The Fall Part 2: Unbound
Developer: Over The Moon
Publisher: Over The Moon
Release Date: 13 February 2018
Price: $16.99 / £12.79
Reviewed by Josh Brant
The Fall Part Part 2: Unbound, by developer Over the Moon, is a continuation of The Fall which was released on PC back in 2014, and maintains the same Metroid-like exploration and combat with some point-and-click adventure elements. The title is truly a unique platformer that admirably tackles the deep questions of science, while getting the player to navigate through harsh and eerie environments.
That being said, this isn’t a sombre journey and puzzles can often become infuriatingly complex, while the little sections of action prove to be lacking in execution. This complexity is the reason for The Fall Part 2’s greatest problem: holding back players from fully exploring the depths it actually goes to.
The Host with the Most
Before embarking on your journey, there is a brief recap of the events that took palce in The Fall. This is a good thing because, like myself, not many players have had the chance to play the first title, and for those that did, it’s been a few years since it was released. Basically, you take control of the rogue AI A.R.I.D., a power suit once controlled by a human pilot. A.R.I.D. has rewritten its protocol to follow one rule: ‘save myself’. The new parameters of A.R.I.D.’s programming have given her the ability to possess new hosts: the Butler, the One, and the Companion, in order to control them at her own will by overriding their natural human instincts. By using these hosts, you will have to solve complex puzzles and “destroy” the primary host in order to survive.
It’s these charismatic and downright spooky characters that continually push you deeper into The Fall Part 2, as they’ll normally raise more questions than answers. A.R.I.D. presents us with the callousness of efficient AI that seems to naturally decay and evolve under the pressure of her task, allowing slivers of apparent emotion to seep through. The hosts you control are also excellently written, and tentatively fleshed out in a steady fashion that helps ease the brain-bending puzzles strewn throughout.
Not your typical sci-fi
The narrative is driven by some superb script-writing and dialogue with a solid cast of voice actors who deliver their lines with skill and authenticity. The audio work is excellent too, with filters used to capture the sounds of the robots, and synthesizer-fueled space music nailing the sci-fi theme. The pacing of the story is also spot-on, as you unlock information from computers, consoles and droids, and discover that The Fall Part 2 is anything but another generic sci-fi story.
The ending also wraps up well, and provides a fitting climax for the eventual encounter with the main nemesis. There is a planned Part 3 in development so all the story threads should eventually be completed.
Unfortunately, the puzzles that should make up the backbone of The Fall Part 2 actually represent its greatest flaw. Using your flashlight you can explore and interact with your surroundings to progress, your suit can network with many electrical systems, while items can be carried and used in unique and normally unapparent ways.
Frustration, Frustration, Frustration
The scenarios are often reduced to trying all available functions on all interactive items in the given environment – a futile effort in trial and error when you realize the puzzles have to be completed in a specific order. Like all the worst adventure games, once you get stuck there's literally nothing you can do other than running over the place looking for something you've missed. Luckily, I had the guide provided to me from the developer or else this could have been much more frustrating.
To top it off, the control scheme can be frustrating as well. The one positive is that you don’t have to switch between the flashlight and gun unlike the first game. Other than that, the small amount of genuine platforming gameplay isn’t particularly smooth. Having to get into that sweet spot and stand precisely underneath a ledge in order to make that smooth transition upwards feels a little dated.
The biggest frustration, however, is object interaction, which could have been handled better. Whenever you spot an object, you can interact with it by bringing up a menu. You then have to move across that menu to select the ‘hand’ symbol to interact, or to choose an item that you wish to use. As a result it feels a little clunky. It’s maybe a small point to bring up, but I feel it would have been more intuitive to have the option of one button interaction.
Lock and Load
There's also combat, made more tactical by A.R.I.D.'s weak shields. Although the health bar is fairly sizable, your shields won’t regenerate unless you defeat all the enemies in a specific section or are able to leave the area. The combat involves using a gun that can be fired by pointing your flashlight in the direction you intend to fire. The gun is also used to solve a few puzzles and unlock certain doors a la Metroid, but is mainly used for combat.
Most fights involve fighting rogue black blobs that incorporate different attack methods and are only susceptible to damage after dodging an attack. You can lock on by pressing ZL, and sometimes cover can be used for enemies that fire from the background. Fortunately, A.R.I.D. can fire into the background to attack these enemies too. This doesn’t fix the mundane nature of the combat though, as it basically boils down to dodging, locking on, and then firing.
Overall, The Fall Part 2: Unbound has some glaring problems; namely with the unintuitive point-and-click sections and lack of discovery, but this is still a worthy sequel. It takes the story of A.R.I.D. and adds new, interesting characters who are all wonderfully voiced throughout. The first game’s scope was rightfully narrow as it focused solely on A.R.I.D.’s struggles, but Unbound opens things up in a surprisingly unique way. If you’re looking to experience one of the most thought-provoking stories of this generation, you should do yourself a favor and find some way to play the first title and Part 2: Unbound.
Pros & Cons
+ Exceptional narrative and voice acting
+ Impressive art direction
+ Great surprises and character moments
- Unintuitive point-and-click controls
- Repetitive gameplay
- Visuals are dated