The Fall: A quick trip with an impactful finish

September 4, 2014


At the outset of Over the Moon Games Studio’s debut offering, The Fall, a figure in an advanced combat suit plummets towards a planet for reasons never explained. Seconds before slamming into a rocky outcropping, the combat suit’s self-defense systems automatically kick in, initiating antimatter shielding that lets the suit blast through the obstacle without harm. The figure then proceeds to carve a fifty-meter hole into the surface before finally coming to rest.

This self-defense system is operated by an artificial intelligence called an armored robotic interface device (ARID), which is also capable of piloting the suit independently should the user within become unresponsive. After a fall like that, “unresponsive” is probably the best-case scenario, but since almost all of the suit’s diagnostics and advanced functions were disabled the AI has no way of knowing anything more than that. Driven by its Asimov-like three parameters — “must not misrepresent reality,” “must be obedient” and “must protect active pilot” — it decides that finding medical attention for its pilot is its primary objective.

The Fall is a dark game, both in theme and composition. It feels very much like a game from the Metroid Prime series, with a lone figure wearing a combat suit exploring an unknown and ultimately hostile environment. This particular ARID has even been programmed with a feminine voice, although it has no actual gender and the pilot inside the suit is male.


The way you explore is also reminiscent of the Prime series. Using the right control stick, you can shine a flashlight around your surroundings. When you encounter a point of interest, an icon appears and a HUD provides information if you maintain your focus on it for a second or two. You can also hit the R button to interact with it, although this only works when applicable.

Outside of some cover-based shooting that is more about patience and timing than it is fast-twitch reflexes, gameplay in The Fall is mostly explorative, not unlike the adventure game genre that was all but dead until the wizards at Telltale revived it. You will have puzzles to solve, items to use and obstacles to avoid. If you happen to figure out what the heck is going on in this long-abandoned facility then that’s a bonus, but remember: your primary concern is your pilot.

Control is reliable for the most part. My only real issue was having the toggle between your laser sight and your flashlight being governed by pushing down the right stick. It was way too easy to do this by accident while using one mode or the other. When exploring this isn’t a big problem, but in the middle of a firefight the last thing you want is your flashlight.


Part of me wants to ask why one of the unused buttons, like ZL, wasn’t used for this, but I already suspect I know the answer: The Fall was planned as part one of an eventual trilogy. By the game’s end there will still be suit functions left inactivated. Presumably these will come into play in future installments, but at this point I’m more interested in seeing how the story continues.

Speaking of the game’s end, all I will say is that it comes way too soon. Anyone with adventure game experience can probably blast through it in about three hours. If you’re prone to being stumped by puzzles then it might take you as many as five, tops. When in doubt, explore. Look for points of interest and when all else fails, try everything.

While three hours isn’t normally enough for me to consider The Fall to be a good value at its normal price point, Over the Moon really impressed me with its story and presentation. Having full voice acting (which was a stretch goal for the original Kickstarter campaign) helped a lot, but even the best voice work won’t hold up without solid writing underneath. Sure, the ending is an obligatory twist, but the narrative leading up to that is an interesting examination of artificial intelligence set in a background of unresolved mysteries.


ARID makes some interesting choices that both fall completely within its parameters while also seemingly directly opposing them. And it’s not the only one. Just about every AI encountered in The Fall has adapted to its situation, and none of those situations are good.

As I mentioned, I want to see where this story goes from here. If nothing else, that should qualify The Fall as a success, and hopefully Over the Moon is able to finish its vision. And if it doesn’t, The Fall still works as a self-contained short story. Either way, it’s worth a look if you’re a fan of adventure games.

Pros: Engrossing story, good adventure puzzles, combat doesn’t get in the way
Cons: Way too short, use of right stick button causes occasional problems

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.