"Thatís One Computation for AI; An Exponential Leap of Programing to Fulfil"
While I cannot speak on behalf of players who supported the original on launch, as someone who had played the first game last summer, The Fall: Part 2 exceeds my expectations as a sequel. Nearly every major criticism with its predecessor, narrative and gameplay, has been addressed with only previous annoyances and new hurdles left to smooth out. As someone who remained hopeful for The Fall, even closing with a line of scripture as a secular individual, itís always a great feeling to come away knowing the developers have shown they have integrity to support their creations. Through years of perseverance, Over the Moon have shown where all their efforts have been placed amidst their fansí and their own suffering, and itís this character trait that makes me believe Part 3 will be worth the wait.
Make no mistake about The Fall: Part 2: Itís not a perfect game. In contrast with the original, however, the qualities that made the first game so beloved now outweigh its shortcomings, resulting in a game that if you accept it for what it is you will find something redeemable.
If there was one success about the original that remains true about its sequel itís the amount of care and attention to detail put into its storytelling. Character and plot-development, even with somewhat predictable moments, were never weak aspects; however, the overabundance on allegories from the original bordered on pretentiousness. Achievements included nods to Platoís allegorical cave; the intro had the imagery of the fall of man; there were several Christ-like characters and robots on crucifixions everywhere. None of these elements were bad as they had relevance to the narrative of A.R.I.D. However, these elements never felt substantial because the gameplay, especially the puzzles, contrived reasons to make a reference for the sake of that reference.
Itís somewhat ironic that the example I used to showcase how a game can be based on a philosophical theme, The Swapper, shares many similarities with Part 2. The Swapper gives the player a device to make clones and swap bodies, which this mechanic was open for discussion in its narrative. In the sequel, instead of controlling A.R.I.D. once again you are connecting the AI through a server, which is why she has more polished controls, and she is manipulating three other robots. (If the allegory isnít obvious the first time, then the third time you connect these three together it will be clear.) These elements of the plot are conveyed through gameplay alone that makes it more believable than the previous game that had you knock over a crucifix.
This is only one aspect of the improved storyline as the narrative is shifted towards developing a handful of well-developed characters than simply one. A.R.I.D.ís story remains the central focus--and she has far greater personality and conflicts this time around--yet the background characters and world are given more relevance to the player. Actions, especially the puzzles, feel more grounded than the moon-logic from before, especially the Integration sections, because they play off the idea of having multiple perspectives. A lot of these new changes were accomplished by the fact that the illusion of choice is taken away, which may bother some, yet this decision is grounded into the narrative and it tells a better story. As a whole, there is no quality of the storyline that has not been improved for the better save for the annoyance of A.R.I.D. saying no to alternative solutions.
One important lesson I learned from this game is never to enter crunch-time for a review on an adventure game. There is too much stress trying to solve every puzzle with a given time-limit only to come back thirty minutes later to realize the obvious solution, especially when you think you reached the end when you really got halfway through. However, because I did not have a guide until the very last sections, I have a greater appreciation behind the puzzles in Part 2. This attitude also extends to the changes in gameplay because I have endured the games at their worst.
Part 1 felt like it was trying to accomplish too many ideas with one control scheme. While the same issues are apparent, especially the mouse being glued on the model instead of reacting as a pointer, there were a lot of changes made to make them less grating. The first thing that is apparent when controlling A.R.I.D. in the network is how much more agile she maneuvers. Her combat abilities now extend to auto-locking in 2.5D as well as being able to jump and parry attacks. (There is a difficulty setting I donít understand why you would tone it down thanks to the auto-aim.) When controlling the One, however, the gameplay suddenly changes into One Finger Death Punch where the player must fight two lanes by tapping buttons in the correct direction. (Itís nowhere near as complicated yet it is still cathartic.) This latter style of combat is visually appealing and easy to understand through colors and animations, yet it may become tedious due to how often it occurs throughout the game.
The one change Iím not sure I agree with is how interactable objects work. Instead of rubbing one item on another, the game uses ďreasonsĒ as an alternative response. On the one hand, when the system works, it does better convey what you are meant to do. When I replayed a section because I thought I ran into a bug, I ended up noticing more subtle cues. Often the writing or the environment provide sufficient clues for most puzzles. However, the consequence is that you need to know what you are doing before you can attempt to solve something, which, in the case of integrating the One, can be a headache. (It wouldnít surprise me if one reason the game took so long was the difficulty in explaining everything.) Sometimes items or entrances to new areas can be easily missed because the interact symbol doesnít show, or the option doesnít work as you would expect, such as in the case of the robot bodies and the diagnostic tool. As a whole, however, the puzzles are a remarkable improvement on the original if you take frequent breaks.
Perhaps my original assessment was wrong that The Fall added too much gameplay elements together because Part 2 proves that approach can work. Like the first game, the gameplay is something you can take or leave as the story is the main selling point, but itís more adequate and it can be enjoyed. With no significant changes to the controls, I donít expect these smaller problems will be addressed in the third game as it would be jarring to make big changes two games later. However, I hope they continue to implement these more acrobatic controls with new additions like the lane-based fighting to distract the player from its problems.
Compared to the first game, the resolution of Part 2 left me far more satisfied and hopeful than I anticipated. The closure it provides is more acceptable than the previous game, which felt like it ended on a cliffhanger. As fortunate as I was to get into the series right before the new release, I do now question how long it will be to reach the end. Perhaps itís too soon to be concerned with that right now, yet I imagine I am perhaps far more patient than others to wait for a quality game to reach its conclusion. While these two series are far different in scope and budgets, The Fall reminds me of how the Witcher series was receptive over time, slowly developing the original into two iterations that ironed out its flaws. Given how much an improvement weíve seen from one iteration, the future of The Fall is a daunting task for the developers to bridge that long gap of love from the moon and back.
Community review by Brian (May 15, 2021)
Current interests: Strategy/Turn-Based Games, CRPGs, Immersive Sims, Survival Solo Games, etc.
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