The Fall Part 2 Unbound Review – Unbound from Flaws?
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Over The Moon
Publisher: Over The Moon
Release: 13th February 2018
Released three years ago, The Fall 1 from Over the Moon was a financial and critical success, tackling themes still modern today like AIs or consciousness. Now the middle of their planned trilogy finally came together in the form of The Fall Part 2 Unbound. Mixing 2D shooter gameplay with point´n click may not seem like an obvious idea but succeeds once again.
People unfamiliar with the predecessor don´t have to worry about not catching up though since The Fall Part 2 features a pretty good summary of it. After Ai Arids’ awakening, the story continues right where it left off, putting her under a hacking attack from a human user located somewhere unknown. Now she has to figure out how to survive against this seemingly crushing force, in order to retain her new found self, meeting drastic robot fates along the way.
By joining different robots on their “daily” duties, Arid comes to her attacker one step closer at a time. However, the main plot primarily revolves around the problems each of the four robots in total she will meet. For example, the first one is a butler serving his masters, cooking them tea and all that, even though they´re dead since many years, simply because it´s his duty. Naturally, an AI with consciousness will question this behaviour, unable to understand the reasoning behind sticking to a meaningless cycle. The conversation, player reaction and meaning behind these segments, especially since every robot has its own problem, is truly superb, conveying its message in a meaningful but subtle way.
In contrast to those passages is the overall plot, mainly taking place in Arids inner operating system. Honestly, it´s not nearly as good as the parts where she explores other AIs, focusing on building many questions surrounding this individual just to end in a rather unrelieving way. There just isn´t a character development as big or understandable as in the first part. Nonetheless, the cat and mouse game can entertain quite a lot, only disappointing in the last moments, which I would consider as a still pretty good story!
Fittingly enough, the gameplay of The Fall Part 2 Unbound is equally double-sided. On the one hand, the parts in Arid are played like 2D shooters with some jump´n run. Sadly, Over The Moon made the controls overly clumsy since it´s necessary to ready the gun before actually being able to shoot. In addition to having to jump, run and occasionally select a new target, shooting feels like a chore. On top of that, the usual “black mist” enemies don´t offer much in terms of hit-feedback either, making them uninteresting enemies.
On the other hand, the point´n click alike passages when Arid conquers an AI can offer way better working puzzle mechanics. Due to the fact, the AIs still have full control over their body, the player can´t control them directly, only observing and hacking other objects in the house. So solving those puzzles actually requires you to think of a way to interrupt cycles, understand weak points and a lot of logical thinking. Especially in combination with the option to gain full control over the robot once the original AI leaves it, to make coffee, for example, is an interesting mechanic, implemented along others to keep the mix fresh and create strategic depth. Unfortunately, everything circulates around finding the right spots to interact with, if you don´t, you won´t have a chance to solve anything. Quite a problem when every icon during these passages is only a few pixels big and easily overlookable, as a result, those well-designed segments can turn into yet another unsatisfying experience.
Naturally, even the first The Fall wasn´t big on the gameplay side, relying on story and of course the atmosphere. Once again Over The Moon manages to create a believable gameification of both an operating system and sci-fi world in The Fall Part 2 Unbound. While the inner segments are littered with love to detail, like “0101” explosions, great lighting and neat inner angles of the exterior damage Arid suffers throughout the journey. At the same time, exploring the vastly different dystopian scenes are a blast both in their artstyle but also visual world building. Every passage has their own background colour, features and love. Sure, the performance on PC is pretty mediocre, often lagging during the more demanding passages and the option settings are nothing more than sufficient, it´s a truly believable world, surpassing the prequel by a lot.
The Fall Part 2 Unbound isn´t a masterpiece, suffering from the same stiff, sometimes annoying gameplay. Surely it´s improved through diversity but nothing really feels right. What remains is an interesting story around AIs in a dystopian sci-fi world mixed with some incredible atmosphere, anyone could lose themselves in.
[A Review Code was provided by Over The Moon]