Spoiler warning for 2015's The Fall.
When The Fall
launched nearly three years ago, it impressively
brought together many different gameplay genres and told a memorable first part of the story of ARID. Always designed as a trilogy, the sequel is now finally here. If you enjoyed the original, there are ample good reasons to return to the role of the sentient suit. The Fall Part 2: Unbound
is a worthwhile sci-fi sequel.
Developed and published by Over The Moon Games
The game offers you the choice at the start to play on one of two difficulties, standard or minimal. The difference between the two of these is that the minimal playthrough has you dealing with fewer combat situations, which never offer too much of a challenge anyway, but it's nice to have the option to be able to focus more on the story in this way. That story continues exactly where The Fall
finished, where ARID found out the human in her suit had died and consequently been disposed of.
If you don't remember this or haven't played the first game (even though it's thoroughly recommended you do before touching this one) then Part 2
kindly offers a helpful recap before you get into the game. You rejoin ARID as she is freefalling. The rules that guide her have been broken, and she realises that she must reset them and create a new rule: self-preservation. After her body is attacked by a virus, her only chance of survival is to travel across a network and commandeer a number of hosts to try and find a way to save herself.
ARID's story alone would be enough to carry this game, as it did in the first one. Her struggle with resisting the virus and coming to terms with the fact that the rules that guided her for so long now no longer do so is an exciting journey. There's very little downtime with this game, as every corner you turn offers another twist in ARID's story, making it an intense experience. As it did last time, the game ends with some unanswered questions, which sets up a nice lead into the planned Part 3
On top of ARID's story, you are also integrated into three other stories, of the One, the Butler, and the Companion. The One has broken free of a collective and is trying to stand on his own, the Butler is stuck in a never-ending routine for his deceased masters and the Companion serves as little more than a sex robot. Their stories in this game are as important as ARID's, and you'll be as involved in them as you are hers. As ARID's quest to save herself forces her to take over these robots, you learn more about them, how they can help you and how their different perspectives change their outlook on the world. You will be encounter each host a number of different times, and each of their stories is well told with satisfying outcomes that play upon the game's themes of artificial intelligence and value alignments.
The game still brings a number of different genres together, but a greater focus has been placed on puzzles, with the odd bit of shooting thrown in. The puzzles are of a similar strain to the first game, requiring you to interact with various different items along the way and needing to determine when and how to use them. Things get a little harder towards the end of the game where the puzzle mechanic changes somewhat, and you must use different perspectives in order to see things that your host's normal view may not see. It feels overcomplicated and hard to get to grips with at first, but you'll need to be well into the swing of things by the time you get to the final boss, which also utilizes this late-game mechanic.
With the puzzles feeling more challenging and frequent than those in the first game, you'd expect the game to maybe hold your hand a bit more, at least at the start. Unfortunately (or not, if that's your preference) you are largely left to figure things out on your own while traversing a network that won't often guide you to the next location either. Near the end of the game don't be surprised if you find yourself lost. Generally, after a while, everything becomes solvable with a bit of thought, but a slight guiding hand when things get tough wouldn't have gone amiss.
The lock on is a genuine life saver
Another area the game has mostly improved on is ARID's movements and the shooting mechanics. ARID is now able to jump, as well as move around a lot more easily, making for a nimbler protagonist. On top of this, the shooting now allows you to lock on to enemies, making killing the mini black splodges of virus that you'll be frequently attacked by a lot easier to handle. Throw in the ability to parry as well, and ARID is more of a force to be reckoned with than ever.Part 2
is a lot more substantial than the first entry, but still keeps to the same look and tone of the first game. Dullen colours set most of the scenes and areas in the game, but somehow still manage to make the network and its hosts look appealing. There's a definite improvement from the original game, with lines looking sharper and ARID looking that bit more high tech than she did the first time around.
Not everything ARID fights is on the outside
In terms of achievements, of the total 37 that are on offer for you to earn, only a small amount of these will come with natural playing. Obviously finishing the game is your main aim in trying to save ARID and overcome the virus, but you'll want to go out of your way quite a few times in order to complete this list. Collecting all of the logs requires a bit of planning ahead, as do most of the extra achievements related to each of the hosts. A couple of playthroughs will be required to pick different conversation options, but overall it is a more involved list that will require some genuine effort in order to complete. It's certainly not the quick and simple completion like its predecessor.Check out our Best Xbox Action-Adventure Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
SummaryThe Fall Part 2: Unbound
manages to improve on the first game in most ways. Intertwining ARID's story with others is a smart move for the sequel, and each host serves as their own character with their own story to tell. A lot of the improvements come with ARID herself, with extra combat and movement abilities making for much smoother gameplay. The puzzles are genuinely tricky, maybe a little too tricky towards the end, and the lack of hand-holding may mean a few head-scratcher moments. Aside from these small issues, Unbound
is an excellent continuation of The Fall
and sets up for an exciting trilogy finale.
- Improved combat with parry and lock on
- ARID feels more flexible especially with jump ability
- Intriguing well told story that brings ARID and three others together
- Feels slicker and more substantial than the first
- Puzzle mechanic can feel a little overwhelming towards end
- Aiming still feels awkward and slow
The reviewer spent a number of hours trying to save ARID from the virus and getting to know the hosts, fighting off enemies and eventually figuring out what to do in each puzzle, earning 30 of the game's 37 achievements. A download code for the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
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