Initial Release Date: 11th July 2017
Enslaved by an evil Communist regime in a dystopian world, you must escape your captivity and lead the people to freedom. Making your way alone through secret passages and escaping the constant vigilance of your oppressors, your only friend is an abandoned little robot – can you make it to liberty together, or will you be captured and killed?
Black The Fall is a fascinating little stealth puzzle platformer by Sand Sailor Studio and published by Square Enix that draws on the success of similar games such as Limbo and Inside, which share the same sort of dark, side-scrolling model. However, Black The Fall still manages to be incredibly unique even while sharing some aspects of those games; while the comparison can be made it must be said that it still stands completely on its own. After winning the Square Enix Collective with on overwhelmingly positive result, Sand Sailor Studio went on to fund production of Black The Fall through a successful Kickstarter campaign and collaborate with Execution Labs accelerator program. They have put a lot of their heart and soul into this game, and it really shows.
Black The Fall throws you right in at the deep end from the very start, and the learning curve is quite steep. They don’t bother to hold your hand and walk you through some really easy puzzles to begin with, but instead force you to think hard and go through some trial and error to let you get a feel for the game mechanics. Icon instructions show you what you need to do rather than dialogue or text prompts. However, some of the puzzles can be hard to figure out due to this lack of coherent instruction. At times this is very frustrating, but it’s simply an indicator of how the developers expect you to use your brain and figure the solution out for yourself.
You will find that some of the puzzles just require some patience, and waiting for something to happen is a fairly common theme at the start. This brings into play the stealth aspect of the game and you won’t be able to blast through it carelessly. Faster-paced sections later in the game will force you to have fast reflexes and the ability to think on your feet in order to progress. Since even the most well crafted analysis can have dire consequences you will definitely become familiar with the death screen in Black The Fall. From early on in the game you will find yourself overthinking your every move, often leading to your demise. Needing to make some blind leaps of faith and hope you will to survive only makes it more heart-stopping!
Since the game has quite a dark theme it’s no surprise that lighting plays an incredibly important part in the puzzles. Red flashlights or spotlights indicate danger and you quickly learn to fear light and crave darkness. Even white lights can betray you, and are used both to indicate a safe place to jump or climb and to mislead you into plummeting to your death. Sound is also used in very clever ways as you will be plunged into pitch darkness with only audio cues to suggest if the path ahead is safe. You will definitely need headphones or a decent surround sound system if you want to progress without too many deaths.
Although the game itself is very well made and fun to play, it doesn’t really have a great deal of replay value. Compared to the impressions of the story you get while playing the ending could have been stronger, and Black The Fall ends up being a little disappointing in that respect. While the developers definitely have a message they want to get across, the absence of any text throughout loses some of the meaning and it makes the player feel a little confused at the end. Despite that it is definitely a really fun and challenging stealth puzzle game that fans of Inside and Limbo will love.