Publisher: Sand Sailor Studio
Developer: Sand Sailor Studio
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: December 14, 2017
Black the Fall is an interesting puzzle game that features a few previously seen mechanics and elements in other games and switches them up just a bit to make them feel new and fresh. While it is easy to draw a comparison between Black the Fall and other similar puzzle games such as Inside or Limbo; the title has made a nice little name for itself with its own unique flavor.
The game tells the story of an unnamed man who is tired of years and years of exhausting physical labor. He plots his escape from the communist regime as he climbs through passages, sneaks past enemies and climbs over obstacles. You traverse through the levels from left to right trying to get past various enemies and cameras that will kill you on sight if you are detected. Controlling the character feels natural as you utilize crouching, running and jumping to get through the stages. Moving from one area to the next is seamless and I truly enjoyed seeing the game unfold as I progressed further.
The puzzles in Black the Fall can range between a mix of simply sneaking past guards without being seen to more complex puzzles that require multiple actions to be completed. This is where the game truly shines. There were times where I grew incredibly frustrated with some of the puzzles. Not because of the puzzles design, but more so because after I figured out a challenging puzzle, I kicked myself for not trying that route from the start. However, there was always an immense sense of gratification whenever I completed a puzzle I was stuck on for a while.
One of the greatest puzzles in the game, which was quite unique, relied on sound. This was implied as I approached the puzzle and saw a picture of “headphones” on the wall. It just so happened that I was playing the game in hand held mode with headphone when this puzzle came up, so it worked out perfectly. At first, I thought the puzzle would be a little gimmicky, but I was wrong and thoroughly enjoyed the short puzzle. I wont spoil this puzzle for you, but it was a nice addition that took advantage of my senses and took quite a few tries before I got it down perfectly.
As you progress through the game you will acquire a laser pointer that can be used to control other NPC’s in the area to assist in completing the puzzles scattered throughout the areas. The laser is utilized in a number of different ways ranging from tapping an NPC and pointing where you want him to go, all the way to bouncing the laser off of a shiny surface to indicate an action you want performed. Eventually you acquire a companion that will help with the puzzles as well; I found this to be a lot of fun in completing some of the games more challenging puzzles.
Perhaps some of my favorite moments in Black the Fall were the platforming elements. The game handled these well and I enjoyed seeing the environment rotate around as I jumped across gaps, climbed over obstacles, and crouched through hidden passages. One of the biggest nuances in platformers can sometimes be the way the characters control. I feel Black the Fall handled this well and never felt like the games controls were hampering my ability to complete a particular platforming segment.
The game isn’t all dark though, there are some amazing set pieces that are presented with vivid color and somber, albeit archaic sounds. Even in these bright areas there was always a sense of paranoia thanks to the games ambient sounds. The color palette used throughout most of the game consisted mainly of red and black. The use of these colors really helped set the mood of the dark tone the game was trying to put out.
I really enjoyed my time with Black the Fall. The puzzles and overall gameplay mechanics were familiar yet unique enough to make it a refreshing experience. The challenging, yet rewarding puzzles mixed with the highly contrasted environments truly gave me a feeling of despair. Although the game is rather short, taking me about 4 hours to complete, it is still a recommended title if you enjoy puzzle games or if you are just looking for something fun to pick up and play.