Have A Nice Mechanical Meltdown, See You Next Fall
Over The Moon Games exploded into the gaming world in 2014 with The Fall – Evaluation, a title that I sorely regret forgetting to pick up now more than ever. It won the Best Story award from Giant Bomb that same year, and if this sequel is any indicator to the quality of the first game, it’s not difficult to understand why.
A gruelling four years have passed in that time, and fans of ARID and her harrowing journey can now find out what happens to her in the follow up: The Fall Part 2 – Unbound which may leave something to desire in terms of naming conventions, but will otherwise bring fans up to speed on what’s going on with our favorite, albeit terrifying, A.I.
It appears that Unbound picks up near immediately where Evaluation leaves off. ARID had just discovered that for all her work in attempting to save Josephs, her superior, he was actually never present in the combat suite she was piloting (think Cortana controlling Chief’s armor but Chief not being inside). This leads to her being interpreted as a rogue AI and decommissioned by the AI at the Domesticon facility in the final minutes of the game.
ARID wakes up and retakes control of her body at the beginning of Unbound, setting out to find Josephs and discover what went wrong. Over the course of time, she goes on a very interesting journey through both the real world and cyberspace in as she traces the network signal responsible for assigning her decommissioning. She will make friends, or enemies, of those she encounters while hurtling on a crash course towards her objective. What will come of it, and who, or what, will ARID be at the end? That will be for the player to decide.
The Butler Did It
The game doesn’t start you out light in terms of puzzles, and that was probably a wake-up call on what to expect for the rest of my time with this game. How the player interacts with the environment hasn’t seemed to change from Evaluation to Unbound either. You’re still handling a gun/flashlight combo that you let fall over various points in the environment (see above image for better example). From here you will get a mini menu where you can select between the listed options to choose what you want to do. Generally, this is easy enough, but these features can change depending on what you pick up along the way, so take notes on what you come across. If those spaces or items are pertinent to a puzzle, inventory items may change how you interact with those locations.
The order in which you do things is important as well, requiring more than a little problem solving as players progress. One particular puzzle that had me for a while was while I was controlling The Butler. The Butler lives in a mansion and is awakened once every night to make tea for his master. As ARID works inside of him you get to follow him around in his nightly routine. Things are, shall we say, uncanny in this household. Nevertheless, The Butler is persistent in accomplishing his singular goals, and thus ARID must use her wits to break his cycle to accomplish her agenda.
There are items all over the mansion with which ARID can interact with, however, she must always work within the limitations of The Butler’s programming. ARID must, therefore, set out to break him if she is to reach her objective. This seems to be a common theme throughout The Fall, though it has a tendency to be abstract in its application. Is extending past one’s limitations a good thing? For people we generally think so, but what about in the case of an AI who is given these limitations for a reason?
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
As ARID’s time with The Butler concludes, the player may have a lot of questions concerning the ethics of her approach. While it is understandable to a degree that ARID takes selfish risks with the lives of others as she tries to save herself, things compound the more she encounters other AIs. If you’re left questioning whether or not ARID is the good guy at the end of this, trust me, you aren’t the only one. While things aren’t clear with The Butler, things become more severe as she finds One and later The Companion. I don’t want to spoil things, but the further you go the harder it can be to sympathize with the character you’re piloting.
Things aren’t all puzzles and philosophical musings, however. The Fall has its share of combat to go along with it. Since a great deal of what ARID encounters is in the digital world, we see physical representations of things like viruses and firewalls appear as adversaries from time to time. ARID is able to shoot these down with some ease, but progression means battles get more complicated. This also means that ARID gets some pretty nifty upgrades as the game goes on, making her a veritable fighting force. These don’t translate into the real world experiences as ARID possesses the bodies of other AIs, so don’t expect things to get too crazy. Still, it breaks the monotony of playstyles up well enough to keep things fresh and interesting as you further explore ARID’s world.
Eventually ARID accomplishes her goal, getting two birds with one stone though not in the way she expects. When the truth becomes apparent ARID is sent back to the beginning with the realities of her decisions presented before her. It is here that she has a choice to make, to correct the mistakes she has made, or continue on toward her original goal.
Guess What, I’m Not A Robot
It’s hard to say how much time I spend on The Fall Part 2 because you spend a lot of time doing vastly different things. The monotony is broken up fairly smoothly, though at times this didn’t help with some of the more frustrating puzzles I experienced. The game could definitely benefit from some sort of hint system, but it’s not entirely necessary. Most solutions will come to you after a short break from the game at worst.
Ultimately what fascinated me the most was ARID’s clear devolution over the course of the game. As I stated before, it’s hard to really empathize with ARID as she willingly risks others for her own sake, and it brings to mind a lot of important questions one needs to ask about what they’re doing. At what point in time is it no longer acceptable to fight for your own survival? Is sacrificing others acceptable for oneself? Ideally, the answer is no, but when faced with the reality of such a situation we are likely to respond very differently.
I do feel comfortable saying that this game is likely not going to appeal to everyone. As a 3D platformer-puzzle with some very intricate puzzles, The Fall Part 2 ups the ante on problem-solving in a manner I personally am not used to. Still, the game is engaging and I personally loved the various environments ARID found herself in as she body hopped from one network to another.
Also, whether the game purposely asks such deep questions about self-preservation and the significance of artificial intelligence is hard to say. But if you’re one of those that enjoys inferring a deeper meaning from your video games, The Fall Part 2 will deliver to be sure.
I guess overall my recommendation comes with a caveat. If you like these kinds of games, you’ll like The Fall Part 2 Unbound. If you don’t or are selective about such things, maybe do some research first.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC, Switch, XboxOne; Publisher: Over The Moon ; Developer: Over The Moon Players: 1 ; Released: Feb 13, 2018 ; ESRB: T for Teen
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy of The Fall Part 2 Unbound given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.