I annoyed robots until they went insane in The Fall Part 2


The butler did it

I'll be honest, I didn't expect to ever hear news of The Fall Part 2: Unbound, let alone play a demo on the PAX West show floor. Not just because the first installment ended on a perfect thematic conclusion, although I could understand if the team at Over the Moon Games decided to leave well enough alone. It's been two years since the first episode of The Fall dropped, and Unbound is currently set for a 2017 release. That kind of release schedule makes Kentucky Route Zero look punctual.

But! The next chapter in ARID's story is here despite my doubts, and I'm excited to finally preview a sequel at this show where I have played the first installment. The Fall's first episode nestled a stripped down sci-fi yarn inside a breezy metroidvania, making for a thoroughly engaging game. Based on the demo I just played, Unbound has learned all the right lessons from its predecessor.

At the end of Part 1, our heroine was being dragged off to be deactivated, but Unbound confirms her consciousness managed to survive. I'm being light on specifics because I literally have to guess -- the demo I saw was ostensibly representative of the final product, but was designed specifically for PAX to avoid spoilers for Unbound. We pick up with ARID in the middle of possessing a solider, who fears a collective known as "The Many."

After some flavor dialogue, the game launched into a new combat mechanic, which is more about punching than Part 1's rudimentary cover shooter. It's less brawler and more rhythm game; attacking leaves ARID open for a counter-attack, so you need to pick the perfect moment. I found myself getting way into it, especially once the game reveals it was grading my performance. My short time with the hand-to-hand combat makes me hope for more sequences like it in the full game or maybe even a separate mode a la the Arkham challenge rooms.

After I made the combat unit so uncomfortable that he kicked me out of his head, I had to convince a butler robot that his beloved family was long dead. The sequence felt like an artifact from Part 1's household simulation, bringing along the delightfully macabre humor, haunting visuals, and confusing puzzles. I could tell I was supposed to use the writing utensils on a desk to trigger the butler's crisis of self, but there was a step I kept missing. Thankfully, the game eventually prodded me via some helpful dialogue from ARID, and even let me skip around to the necessary sections. 

The overarching theme of The Fall has always been an exploration of "the self," with Part 1 focusing on unhealthy boundaries, and Part 2 on pushing the boundaries of others. My concern is how Part 2 will present its themes, and how this will all tie up in Part 3. Both installments (thus far) have done a great job of welding gameplay and story, but I've yet to see how the thematic conclusion of Part 1 will affect the thesis of Part 2, and how that will be reflected in the gameplay.

I spoke with John Warner and Caleb Allard (the director and writer of The Fall, respectively) about this exact issue. "We try to make games that are informed by the story," Warner said to Destructoid earlier today. "If a puzzle doesn't fit the story, the puzzle changes."

"We've cut 30-45 minutes of gameplay because they didn't fit the story," Allard said. According to Warner and Allard, the duo collaborate at every stage of the development process, a working relationship perfectly reflected in the first part of The Fall. They also told me Unbound would have different gameplay to reflect the game's different themes, which is partially true.

The combat is different, and you're using the combat to make a robot uncomfortable, but nothing about the combat itself ties into the concept of social discomfort. There's also nothing unique about adventure game mechanics, streamlined as they may be. I'm also curious about the idea of unintentional social discomfort -- ARID was deliberately pushing buttons during the demo, which seems less interesting than exploring somebody who unintentionally pushes people away.

If Unbound can match the heights of its predecessor, then I'm officially upgrading the threat level for The Fall to Kentucky Route Zero status: a great (albeit incomplete) game released very intermittently that rocks the house every time it shows up. The demo had everything I liked from Part 1 -- ARID's deadpan, some gallows humor, rich visuals, a compelling narrative -- and I hope the full game continues that trend.

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Mike Cosimano
Mike CosimanoSenior Reporter   gamer profile

It takes a lot to make a stew. more + disclosures



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    Filed under... #Indie #Indie Megabooth #PAX #PC



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