A severe case of identity crisis
The first game in this series, The Fall, was a great sci-fi title with some major flaws which kept the experience from mass appeal. It followed the exploits of an AI named Arid, who was trying to save the life of her human companion. There was a huge sense of mystery throughout the journey, and the story kept me enthralled all the way up until its final moments.
Warning: This review will contain some spoilers for the first game.
The Fall Part 2: Unbound (PC, PS4, Switch [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Over The Moon
Publisher: Over The Moon
Released: February 13, 2018
The Fall Part 2: Unbound takes place exactly where it left off. Arid has been dragged away to be destroyed after finding out that the human she had been protecting the entire time, Josephs, was never inside of the suit at all. From here, she realizes that, in order to survive, she must cast off her body. She transfers her consciousness, and this is where the story truly begins.
I’m not going to go into too much detail because the story is just about the only thing this game has going for it. I will, however, state that the first game is absolutely required reading for any sense of what’s going on. There’s a brief summary available, but it doesn’t quite do it justice.
Most of your time here will be spent possessing one of three different service AIs, which will help you reach your ultimate goal. There’s a butler, a soldier unit, and a female robot who’s only real purpose is to alleviate humans’ “primal needs.” In case I’m being too vague here, I mean sex. She’s basically a sentient fuck doll.
One of the biggest selling points of the first game was its sense of understated mystery. That’s pretty much all gone now. There’s still a story to unfold, but there’s a whole lot of yelling this time around. It all comes across as a bit hokey, and there’s only so many times Arid can scream, “I AM DISTINCT!” before I want her to shut up. The dialogue from the other three robots, whom you interact with and possess, isn’t much better most of the time either. It’s the story elements that they don’t outright shove in your face where the game really shines.
There are two types of combat throughout Unbound. One of them is the same basic jump, turn invisible, and shoot mechanic from the first game. The other one is wholesale lifted from a game called One Finger Death Punch. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as well executed.
You’ll have enemies running at you from each side, and you must hit the respective left and right attack buttons to keep combat flowing smoothly. It’s clunky, repetitive, and it just never quite gels correctly. The only real reason it seems to be implemented is for one small story tie-in late in the game, and the payoff is minimal at best.
The puzzles are still every bit as obtuse as they were the first time around, but now there are even larger stages, so it can get a bit infuriating at times. Instead of tweaking this element, and making the solutions feel more natural to piece together, they left them pretty much as-is. The issues are exacerbated by the protagonist’s slow movement and convoluted interaction mechanic as well.
It almost feels like the developer, Over The Moon, took all of the criticisms from the first game, ignored them completely, and then copy/pasted them into the sequel. There were so many ways they could have implemented small quality-of-life fixes, and they just didn’t. To top it all off, they added more mechanics that come with their own issues.
About four years later, we get the sequel to one of the most promising sci-fi series in gaming, and it didn’t learn from any of its past mistakes. In fact, they doubled down on them and even added some brand new ones.
If you played and loved the first game, you’ll still find something to love here, but it’s so buried under obtuse puzzles, terrible voice acting, and pointless combat sections that it’s really difficult to recommend this. The story is still pretty solid, but getting to it is a total pain in the ass.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]