Sci-Fi is a genre often filled with cautionary tales that predict doom and gloom on a regular basis, sucking all the fun from anything to do with Robots and cool laser guns. To be honest, it seems like the future can be a bleak place and it’s largely up to the human race advancing to a selfish degree. The Fall was an insightful game that dove right into complex issues regarding morality and the impact of AI. Arid’s tale was a sad one, showing the AI programmed suit being dismantled once she realized the pilot she thought was under her protection, was not really there. Now after a long wait we finally have the sequel and hopefully a series of answers to some unnerving questions.
The Fall: Unbound starts directly after the original game’s climactic ending, where Arid is being dismantled and examined in order to re-program her. Arid doesn’t take kindly to the invasion of her personal space and thus decides to leave her body behind and dive into the mainframe as means of escape. However, her problems have only just begun as it’s up to Arid to use her skills in problem solving and persuasion to befriend a few fellow AI counterparts and use them in order to further her own agenda. The whole idea behind The Fall: Unbound is that players enter the bodies of three distinct AI counterparts in order to gain a better understanding of what’s actually happening and resolve the issue at hand. Aside from a captivating story, The Fall: Unbound serves up some excellent voice acting, playing on a B-Movie charm that is quirky and cheesy, yet effective in tone.
Arid is trapped within the mainframe, where you’ll explore and fight the ever growing corruption that is trapped inside with her. You’ll use the mainframe to traverse from each of the three AI counterparts and enter their bodies in order to complete various objectives, that will ultimately lead you to your original pilot. You’ll explore, combat segments of the corruption that float within the mainframe, and gain new information by hacking terminals. There’s plenty to do in this central hub and it links up to the most interesting parts of the story and the game; the AI counterparts.
The Fall was a slow, unnerving tale of self-awareness and discovery, where the gameplay often reflected these themes with lateral elements taking players forward rather than action and stress. But there is a tonal shift now, lending more towards action and engaging players with a narrative centered on strong world building. This shift in tone works surprisingly well as the game feels much grander and complex, but doesn’t linger or become stilted as the original game did. We’re offered more of a living, breathing world that harbors compelling characters and interesting situations to overcome. There is a wider range of game-play elements now where different segments of the game incorporate mechanics that introduce new fighting or lateral elements.
You’ll rely more on platforming and combat in between the segments where you control one of the three counterparts. These robots have distinct behaviors ranging from a loyal yet dim-witted waiter who’s suffering from PTSD, a combat-ready Mech that believes he is unique due to his love of art and music and an escort android that sees everything with rose tinted glasses on. The aim of each encounter is to outwit them and use them to discover more intel on your pilot, even if it means you break them in the process.
Arid’s latest adventure is surely much darker in tone than before and often explores some unsettling themes on morality and choice. You’ll often be prompted to choose whether to perform certain actions with warmth and consideration or use full force. It usually pushes you to use force and Arid’s state of mind will deteriorate further. There’s a captivating sense of accomplishment within The Fall: Unbound, one that rewards for hard work and intuition.
The Fall: Unbound is extremely confident in its execution and as a sequel, it stands high on the shoulders of the original. The framework remains largely the same with lots of tweaks to improve the flow and feel of the game, for the most part. What does hold The Fall: Unbound back in some degree is the clumsy controls along with the tedious nature of certain puzzles. Controls feel restrictive as you’ll have to hold down the left trigger and aim to interact with the environment, which is annoying when collision detection plays up or the range on an interactive object is extremely minimal. Combat fares better due to the little shortcuts offered when targeting, but Arid’s movement overall is way too floaty and I experienced my fair share of moments when she just floated across the room.
The big problem in the original game was that the lateral aspects were repetitive and a downright grind of testing various objects with various other environments until something clicked. That was not the case all the time, but the game’s logic or presentation made it difficult to put two and two together, meaning a lot of frustration happened due to poor oversight from the developer. There is much of an improvement here and the logic is strengthened to ensure players can deduct and breakdown lateral problems with ease or general understanding. There were only a few times when the game decided to withhold information or not make clear enough on what should be done.
It’s easy to get lost and listening to every single word characters speak to one another can be very useful for a smooth progression. The lateral elements are broken up more often with action, narrative-driven encounters, and exploration. What does separate Unbound from the original game are the more elaborate setups for your encounters. Using the waiter robot as a host means you have to complete or break his daily cycle, serving tea, and attending to the mistress of the house. However, the master and mistress are dead and he’s stuck in a loop. Meaning you have to overcome his stubborn routine which is highly inventive and breaks away from the original game’s “bypass the killer fish” segment.
The Fall: Unbound is a great sequel, one that builds extremely well on the foundations of the original and makes a more confident and attentive game. This is a great continuation and cements The Fall as one of gaming’s smartest and brightest narrative-driven titles on the market.
A PS4 copy of The Fall: Unbound was provided by Over The Moon for the purpose of this review.