I’ve always loved a dungeon crawler, with the Diablo titles producing some of my very favourite video game memories. So when I heard Fall of Light, a game I had missed first time around, was getting a “Darkest Edition”, I had to give it a go. Although it doesn’t reach the heady heights of Blizzard’s flagship series, it does have a lot to like.
For context, the game takes place in a world overtaken by darkness after a great war ends the 13th era of men and brings about the 14th era, the first of shadow. The player takes control of an old nameless warrior who is attempting to lead his daughter, who is imbued with light, to the last remnants of the sun’s energy. Although the premise might not be entirely groundbreaking, it is both effective and engrossing enough to make finding out what happens next an appealing prospect. The first thing to notice is the voice acting, in particular the narration at the beginning of the game, which absolutely does its job of setting the scene and being a part of it at the same time.
The game world itself is really quite fantastic to look at. Built in Unity, it does a lovely job of rendering the dank, foreboding feel of a land corrupted by shadow. The lighting, strong enough to pick up on details in the landscape but still faint enough to maintain an air of tension and mystery, is a particular highlight. The character models aren’t hugely detailed but the game doesn’t feel like it suffers for this fact, certainly they are enough to carry the story forward without being distracting.
The combat is interesting because, whilst it does its job adequately, it didn’t feel particularly exciting or tricky. The mechanics involved are rudimentary and essentially consist of spamming attack and then using the dodge function to get away to refill stamina. This can get repetitive quickly, particularly if you are the kind of player who feeds off the thrilling combat in games like (sorry for doing this) Dark Souls, a game with which Fall of Light wants to draw comparisons. It’s actually more akin to a kind of grimy Ico, the classic PlayStation release, a two-hander with it’s own charm and driven by a well-written narrative.
I should probably point out at this juncture that Runeheads, the company that makes the game, are a two-man operation, and when you take the fact that they released the original version of this game within a year of their foundation, it’s a hugely impressive achievement. It is also published by 1C company, who put out some of the best indie games around so the support structure is absolutely there for the developer going forward. The Darkest Edition adds further dungeons, items, quests and NPC’s to create a rich experience that I haven’t come across often in recent games of a similar ilk.
There are a few areas where Fall of Light is a little rough around the edges. There are some spelling mistakes in the games subtitle track, which for someone who writes for a living is a little galling, maybe less so for people who aren’t wanky journos. The main menu is a little weird to navigate, with no mouse cursor it just seems like an unnecessary missing feature which would have taken the polish of the game up a notch. These are minor gripes though so take them with a pinch of salt.
So should you get it? Well, that kind of depends on who you are as a person. It’s certainly a good game, made more impressive by the low-budget nature of the product, but it can be repetitive and there are some sections that really do require patience to progress through, largely because they aren’t as interesting narrative-wise as others. Is it as good or groundbreaking as its aforementioned comparison points? Not really. But it is a good game in its own right, and one that I had absolutely no trouble sinking 15+ hours into for the purposes of this review.