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Downfall (PC) artwork

Downfall (PC) review

"If you are the voices in your head, then who is listening to them?"

After I finished playing The Cat Lady last year, I was eagerly looking for more games that carried on the same style. I came across Downfall, a game released in 2009 and created by the same guys. I played it a little bit - never finished it though - and was definitely intrigued by it. When I found out that the developers were working on a remake, I felt like the happiest person alive. A 'new' game that would show why The Cat Lady got the attention it deserved. The biggest question is now of course: was the remake of R. Michalski's first game what we hoped for, or was it perhaps a downfall too?


Meet Joe and Ivy Davis, a couple that has been struggling with their marriage for a long time due to Ivy's eating disorder. In order to try and save it, they decide to go on a trip to "Quiet Haven Hotel". Things don't really go as Joe had hoped, but as stubborn as he is, tries to keep fighting for Ivy. After all, he is supposed to love her .... Right?

Downfall (PC) image

Gameplay, fun factor and replayability

Just like in The Cat Lady, the gameplay exists out of two major elements: progressing the story via dialogue and exploring the area to do various puzzles and actions. Being a character-driven game, there is quite a lot of dialogue to be found, but luckily, the conversations never felt uninteresting. I was also quite surprised with the amount of different replies that you can give. You can behave like the sweet and understanding husband, or like one that is totally fed up with the whole situation. Furthermore, if the game's madness wasn't already enough for you, there's also that spoon of humour that they threw into the mix - it's rather amusing.

Being not a big puzzle solver myself, I was pleased to see that this game focused a little bit more on story progression. The puzzles that were present never felt too difficult or frustrating. In fact, most of them are pretty straight forward. All in all, they are really fun to solve/do. Lastly, both of those elements (dialogue + puzzles) alternated often enough to keep the game fun and fluent: I never felt like either of them went on for too long or became tedious.

Personally, I am someone who plays through heavily story-based games (mostly) only once, but for those who so desire: there are multiple endings! So try to forget all about this game and maybe replay it within a couple of months. Or, if you just want to try out all the different dialogue options/hunt down the achievements, you can do that. Just make sure to save often enough or make use of the quick-save option.

Downfall (PC) image

Controls, graphics and sound

The controls are very minimalistic: wandering around is done by the arrow keys. Inventory usage? Yep, you guessed it: arrow keys! All confirmation is done by pressing enter. Lastly, want to skip some dialogue during your second playthrough? The space key is your friend. The controls worked like they should; however, one tiny little thing bugged me throughout my playthrough: at certain parts of the game, you have many items at the same time. Instead of having to press the right arrow key multiple times to get to the furthest item, it would've been useful if I could've just pressed the left arrow key to get to it.

As the original Downfall was a little bit more colourful, this game presents itself in a 2D black-white style, with some sporadic colouring to be found. I like to think that the usage of black-white or colours reflect the character's' state of mind/certain events, but that is merely my personal interpretation. Whatever the developers tried to express, there is no doubt that it adds to the (creepy) atmosphere of the game. I also have to say that they did an exceptional job on the looks of the game. The Cat Lady already looked pretty good, but this game looks just gorgeous. Just about every area has been created with a lot of detail and care.

Downfall (PC) image

Along with the beautiful art comes the amazing soundtrack. I found the OST to be equally as good as the one in The Cat Lady. There was a lot of variety to be heard - from slow and creepy piano sounds to loud and heavy guitar riffs - that nailed setting the tone/atmosphere for the whole game. As it should be clear now, this is a game that makes you feel uncomfortable with almost everything that happens. Despite this feeling of unease, you just want to keep playing and discover how the story will unfold. These guys may not make bestselling games, but they are masters at setting an atmosphere so creepy, even at times when nothing's really happening: it's all in our head.

My biggest point of critique (regarding the sound section) concerns the voice acting, especially during the prologue: as a prologue is meant to peek the player's first interest, I was rather disappointed. The voice acting during the rest of the game was ok though. A last point of critique goes to the different volume levels: there were certain scenes were one character was almost shouting in my ear, whilst the other was pretty much mumbling. Also, it seems like not every actor had a good quality mic, which is a shame.

The verdict

I am glad to conclude that this game was not a 'downfall' at all. People who enjoyed The Cat Lady will not only play through a new story that they'll get to love, but are also in for quite a surprise later in the game! Fans of (psychological) horror are also in for quite a ride, but may miss some references: I definitely recommend playing The Cat Lady as well. Even if you don't like horror, you still may want to give this game a try. I'm not a real fan of horror myself - on the contrary - I try to stay away from it as much as possible. Yet, I found a special joy and satisfaction in playing such a stylistic game that dares to embrace such confrontational subjects.

Downfall (PC) image

Game overview

* Genre: indie, adventure, psychological horror
* Avg length: ~5 hours
* Developer: Harvester Games
* Publisher: Screen 7
* Release date: 15th February 2016
* Platform: PC

Pros & cons

+ Interesting story!
+ Gorgeous looking
+ Fitting soundtrack
+ An atmosphere not easily forgotten
+ Open for interpretation
+ Includes the original Downfall
(+ Same universe as The Cat Lady)
- Weird changes in volume
- Monotonous or bad quality voice acting

Project Horror 2016
Project Horror saw one (1) horror review submitted every day through the month of October. This review was part of that effort.

LadyZana's avatar
Community review by LadyZana (October 20, 2016)

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Indie Games Enthusiast | Sporadic Reviewer Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

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