Black the Fall (Playstation 4 Review)
When you boot up Sand Sailor Studio’s Black The Fall, you can’t help but notice the artistic similarities to last year’s hit Inside. They are both 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformers with a strikingly alike aesthetic and puzzle style, but both telling a different story.
Black The Fall is set in a communist dystopian era that has you taking control of an old machinist who is attempting to escape from the regime he is trapped in. Much of the communist references you will come across are based off the experiences of the Romanian studio’s devs, who want to bring to light the realities of their country’s communist past.
Much like Inside, Black The Fall is heavy on the trial and error style of gameplay and you’ll find yourself having to die many times before you’ve figured out the solution to a puzzle. I generally have no problem with this type of mechanic. However, it did start to get a bit grating as some of the puzzle solutions aren’t clear, regardless of the number of different ways you’ve tried.
The puzzles you’ll find in Black The Fall don’t bring anything new to the side-scrolling puzzle genre, as much of what you’ll find you’ll likely find in Limbo or Inside. On the plus side, if you haven’t played previous games like this then you’re in for a treat as it’ll all be new to you.
When it comes to music, the scenes are set perfectly and the audio really communicates the sense of dread that is naturally evoked from such a subject matter. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as some violin strings making that tense screeching noise, but it’s enough to make the hairs of the back of your neck stand on end, especially if you’re sneaking along trying not to wake a guard.
Along with the music, the art for Black The Fall is spectacular. There are areas that part outside and the attention to detail is nothing short of fantastic. The inside of buildings are also just as wonderful, and really get across the harsh feeling of the controlling and oppressive situation you find yourself in. The NPCs in the background also show this off extremely well and paints an all too real image of what life was like in Romania during those times.
The game itself is quite short; it took me an hour and a half to complete with only two secret areas left to get. For the kind of game this is, a couple of hours isn’t too bad as you don’t want it to feel dragged out or for the story to lose any of its impact. For those unfamiliar with this style of game, and for those wanting to find all the secret areas, the play time will no doubt be increased.
I’ve mentioned that there are secret areas you are able to find throughout Black The Fall and this adds a level of replayability to the game. These secret areas are extremely easy to miss though, one of them involves knocking on a certain door and unless you spend your time knocking on every door you come across, the chances are you’re going to miss it. For all the completionists out there, you will have your work cut for you and I can foresee you spending an awfully long time attempting to find everything.
Overall, if you are a fan of games like Limbo and Inside, then the chances are you’ll enjoy Black The Fall thanks to the similar mechanics and puzzles. Just don’t expect anything new or different being brought to the table. If you’re a newcomer to the genre however, be prepared for a lot of trial and error and potentially some frustrated hair pulling or broken controllers if you’re prone to a bit of rage quitting.